It took 40 minutes for the Montreal Canadiens to show their Stanley Cup championship form. The Canadiens scored four times in the third period for a 4-3 victory Wednesday night over the Hartford Whalers.
A crowd of 16,430 at Montreal gave the Stanley Cup champions a standing ovation before the game, but was booing the Canadiens by the second period for their loose play and failure to mount a sustained attack. The cheers returned as Montreal dominated the final period.
In a ceremony before the game, a banner proclaiming Montreal's 24th Stanley Cup title was hoisted to the Forum ceiling by Jean Beliveau, the Hall of Fame center who retired as Canadien vice president last month after 40 years with the organization.
New Jersey 2, Tampa Bay 1--Jacques Lemaire got what he wanted in his first game as coach of the New Jersey Devils--a victory over the Lightning at East Rutherford, N.J., and a defensive game that made the Montreal Canadien Hall of Famer even happier.
"You feel better when you win," said Lemaire.
Andrei Lomakin's breakaway goal at 8:50 of the third period had given Florida a 3-3 tie. Then Brian Skrudland's shot from point-blank range at 13:40 beat Ed Belfour to give the Panthers a 4-3 lead.
Florida, playing its inaugural NHL game, helped the Blackhawks celebrate their final opening night in 64-year-old Chicago Stadium, which is supposed to be replaced by a new building next September.
Quebec 5, Ottawa 5--Ottawa's Brian Glynn and Quebec's Martin Gelinas scored two goals each at Ottawa.
Winnipeg 6, Wasington 4--Teemu Selanne scored three goals as the Jets rallied at Winnipeg. Selanne had 76 goals as the NHL rookie of the year last season and was a big reason the Jets drew a season-opening record crowd of 15,363 at the Winnipeg Arena.
Edmonton 3, San Jose 2--Jason Arnott, playing in his first NHL game, scored the game-winning goal with 7 1/2 minutes to play at Edmonton.
Arnott, Edmonton's No. 1 pick in the 1993 entry draft and the seventh player taken overall, had signed a three-year, $2.1-million contract on Monday.