I am forty – six. My memory is somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty – five.
Thanks to Kevin from Habs Eye on the Prize for asking me for the list.
Please visit his outstanding site. In the near future – lists and memories from many sports personalities in Montreal will be added to his site …
Without further ado; here are my top ten Montreal Canadien goals!
10. Alexei Kovalev – February 19, 2008
After surrendering five straight goals to the Rangers, the Habs seemed to have dug a hole that promised to get bigger. The match was half over and a five goal deficit equaled disaster and embarrassment. Then something happened. One goal led to another and as quick as a startled bird departs a telephone wire – the Habs tied the game. To add dramatic effect for upcoming highlight reels; Kovalev netted the winner and ended up on his backside, legs in the air, as the Canadiens capped off the biggest comeback in the team’s history.
9. Chris Nilan – 1989 Flyers – Habs
Nilan’s goal was not a game winner. Nilan’s goal was not important in a game the Habs led 3 – 1 in the third period. What made Knuckles goal a notch in my memory was the way he did it. A fighter – not known for his scoring prowess, Chris took a Larry Robinson pass and skated alone on a breakaway. Channeling Guy Lafleur, Knuckles deked the Flyers’ goalie and easily placed the puck in the net. It was a defining moment. It was Chris Nilan sending a statement; ” I can play hockey too … Ya know !”
8. Eric Desjardins – 1993 Stanley Cup finals against L.A.
The game will be remembered for two things; Marty McSorley‘s illegal stick and Eric Desjardins. The Habs’ defenceman scored probably the Habs’ most important goal in their improbable run to the Cup. The Kings and McSorley were penalized with under two minutes to go in the third period. A Los Angeles victory would have sent them home with a 2-0 series lead. Habs’ coach Jacques Demers pulled goalie Roy and Desjardins scored the equalizer from atop the face-off circle. The Forum went absolutely nuts as the teams headed to overtime. Desjardins scored the winner in the extra period to become the only defenceman in NHL history to net a hat trick in the playoffs as the Habs won 3 – 2!
7. Jean Beliveau – His 500th goal.
On February 11, 1971 – M. Beliveau netted the 500th goal of his career. I was six years old and I remember it like yesterday. There was not a televised Habs’ game that I missed on television – before the days of five games a night on any given channel. Beliveau’s goal was my first recollection of feeling proud. He was my Montreal Canadien and the numbers ‘ 5-0-0 ‘ flashed on my t.v. screen in ( at the time ) ‘ state of the art ‘ graphics. His feat re – enforced my idea of becoming a hockey player and the next 500 goal scorer for the Habs.
6. John Leclair – 1993 Stanley Cup finals against L.A.
The teams were in Los Angeles tied at one game apiece. The series and Cup could have gone both ways. Once again – the pair of finalists headed to overtime, a domain ‘ owned ‘ by the Canadiens in this playoff year. John Leclair, the Vermont native with the French name – took matters onto his own stick and scored the winner just :34 into the extra time.Another miracle in the Habs’ miraculous run!
5. John Leclair – 1993 Stanley Cup finals against L.A.
Following his heroics in game three – Leclair once more scored the winner in overtime in game four. This feat made him the second player in history ( aside from Rocket Richard )to score two overtime goals in the finals. Leclair left his mark in Montreal forever …
4. Claude Lemieux – 1986 Adams Division finals against Hartford
Overtime game seven. The teams displayed the prowess of two heavyweights battling for a title fight. Back and forth the series went. No team gathering control. The Habs were filled with rookies and did not seem quite sure of their identity. Lemieux grabbed the puck behind the net and headed to the hash marks. Turning, he seemingly ‘willed’ the puck with a backhand over goalie Mike Liut’s left shoulder. The goal not only sending the Habs to the next round ( and eventual Cup ), it was the goal that instilled confidence in the young team. A turning point for many Habs’ rookies like Roy and Lemieux.
Mike McPhee and Brian Skrudland were the modern day Mario Tremblay and Doug Riseborough on the Habs in the mid to late eighties. No two players worked harder at checking the other team’s top lines while adding an offensive punch. All that hard work paid off as McPhee and Skrudland headed into the Calgary zone on a two- on- one. A play that sent Skrudland into the history books. It was game two in Calgary. The Habs startled the Flames by competing after being dominated 5- 2 in game one. McPhee poked – checked the puck at center, sending him and Skrudland toward Mike Vernon, the Flames’ goalie. McPhee orchestrated a perfect pass to Skrudland and Brian tapped the puck in just nine seconds into overtime. The fastest overtime goal in NHL history and the Habs won the next three games to bring home their twenty – third Stanley Cup.
2. Scott Gomez – February 9, 2012
I remember where I was when John Lennon was shot and killed. I will always remember where I was when Scott Gomez scored his first goal in over a year. Why is this number two on the list? Because the goal, contrary to all the other goals – is a symbol in my mind to the lowest point in my memories of the Canadiens’ franchise. Any moment in history is defined by good and bad. Gomez’ goal the most famous of the infamous. A story that will be told to generations to come. The day Scott Gomez earned his seven million dollar salary.
And the number one Montreal Canadiens’ goal?
1. Guy Lafleur – ‘ Too many men on the ice goal ‘ May 10, 1979
The Bruins were playing the Habs in another chapter of their long and bitter rivalry. The Bruins were on the verge of upsetting the Habs in the semi- finals. Up 4 – 3 with just over two minutes left in the third period; Boston got called for too many men on the ice. The Canadiens desperate for a goal and it showed. One of the most feared offences fumbled the first few shifts. Sticks were pressed a little too tight until Larry Robinson grabbed the puck and headed into the zone. Just inside the blue line, ‘ Big Bird ‘ dropped a pass to Lafleur who was skating just behind. Seventy – four seconds remained on the clock. An eight inch opening lay to Bruin goalie Gilbert’s right. Lafleur unleashed his patented slapshot. The rest … History as they say as the teams headed to overtime and a 5 – 4 Canadien victory. Lafleur’s goal the base for an Yvon Lambert overtime winner and an eventual Stanley Cup against the Rangers …
Please – send me your top ten list!
If you need a magician and an outstanding entertainer – give Kid Mercury a call! Not only will he entertain your kids or corporate party – his memories from the Forum as the Canadiens’ unofficial mascot from 1985 – 1995 will blow your mind!
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