NHL Playoff Memories: Demers The Gambler, 1993

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NHL Playoff Memories: Demers The Gambler, 1993

(Note: this is part two of the NHL Memories series. Read part one here.)

 

June 3, 1993. Late in the third period of Game 2, the L.A. Kings hold a 2-1 lead over the Montreal Canadiens.

 

With 1:45 remaining in the game, Montreal coach Jacques Demers makes a risky choice: he calls for Kings player Marty McSorley's stick to be measured.

 

If he's right and McSorley is playing with an illegal stick, Montreal goes on the power play with a chance to tie the game. If he's wrong, Montreal will be short-handed and lose any chance they have to tie the game.

 

This would mean two consecutive losses in front of the fanatical Forum crowd.

 

All eyes are on referee Kerry Fraser as he measures McSorley's stick in front of the timekeeper's box. As the crowd waits, the CBC announcers speculate on the illegality of L.A. goalie Kelly Hrudey's stick.

 

The crowd roars as Fraser hands the stick to the penalty box officials. As McSorley heads for the penalty box, Demers gambles on another big move: He pulls Patrick Roy in favour of an extra attacker, putting the Kings at a two-man disadvantage, but leaving the Habs' net open.

 

The puck is dropped at centre ice and play moves into the Kings' zone. After a few seconds of cycling the puck, Habs defenceman Eric Desjardins takes a shot from near the blueline and beats Hrudey. The Canadiens have sent the game into overtime.

 

Less than a minute into overtime, the puck is dropped to the left of Roy, and L.A. wins the faceoff. Habs defenceman Guy Carbonneau manages to clear the puck, but Montreal's first shot by Ronan hits the post. Desjardins is in perfect position in front of the net. He takes a pass from behind the net and beats Hrudey again, earning a hat trick.

 

Demers' gamble has paid off.

 

This game is the ninth-consecutive overtime playoff win for the Canadiens (who would set an NHL record with 10) and Desjardins's hat trick is the first and only playoff hat trick by a Montreal defenceman.

 

Montreal goes on to win the series, setting off the 1993 Stanley Cup Riot.

 

Oddly enough, according to the NHL, this is only the 23rd Cup for the Canadiens and not the 24th.

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