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Greatest Games: Montreal Canadiens – A Measured Response

The most famous stick measurement in NHL history changed the course of the ’93 Cup final.

No. 1 – June 3, 1993 – Montreal 3, Los Angeles 2 (OT)

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the Montreal Canadiens were desperate late in Game 2 of the 1993 Stanley Cup final.

Los Angeles won Game 1 4-1 at the Montreal Forum and were leading 2-1 with less than two minutes to play in Game 2. That’s when Montreal coach Jacques Demers pulled an ace out of his sleeve and asked for a measurement of Marty McSorley’s stick. It showed the curve exceeded the legal limit and McSorley went to the penalty box at 18:15. Demers pulled goalie Patrick Roy for a 6-on-4 power play and, 32 seconds later, Eric Desjardins scored his second goal of the night to send the game into overtime.

Desjardins became the only defenseman with a hat trick in the Cup final when he scored the OT winner, and the Habs went on to claim their 24th Stanley Cup in five games.

The decision to call for the measurement was controversial. Kings coach Barry Melrose said Demers had the right to call for it, but noted: “I don’t believe in winning that way.”

McSorley admitted he was at fault for not switching to a legal stick in the waning moments of the game, but the question remains: why were the Canadiens so sure the stick wasn’t legal? Demers insisted he acted on information provided by the eagle-eyed Guy Carbonneau, but McSorley and the Kings believe they were the victims of espionage. In a 2017 interview, McSorley said a Forum employee pulled the Kings’ stick rack into Montreal’s dressing room and measured the sticks. “We all know they pulled the stick rack into their dressing room. Am I sitting here complaining? No. But that’s what happened.”

No. 2 – April 14, 1960 – Montreal 4, Toronto 0
The Habs became the first and only team to win five straight Stanley Cups with a Jacques Plante shutout in Toronto. Jean Beliveau had a pair of goals.

No. 3 – May 18, 1986 – Montreal 3, Calgary 2 (OT)
Rookies lead the comeback as David Maley ties it in the third and Brian Skrudland scores the fastest playoff OT goal ever, nine seconds in to knot Cup final 1-1.

GREATEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE OF ALL-TIME

Maurice Richard
March 23, 1944 – Montreal 5, Toronto 1
Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard was accustomed to hearing his name announced as one of the three stars following a game, but the night of March 23, 1944, was special because Richard was awarded all three stars after a 5-1 playoff victory over the Toronto.

Richard scored all of his team’s goals to become the first player in the modern era to score five times in a playoff game. Toe Blake assisted on each, Elmer Lach had four helpers and coach Dick Irvin helped Richard by triple-shifting him to keep him away from Bob Davidson, who was shadowing the Canadiens superstar.

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