Canadiens get through a sticky situation as Demers throws Kings a curve

June 04, 1993|By Jim Smith | Jim Smith,Newsday

MONTREAL -- Montreal Canadiens coach Jacques Demers noticed during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals that the Los Angeles Kings' Marty McSorley and Luc Robitaille were using what appeared to be illegal sticks.

Demers waited until there was 1:45 left in regulation time in Game 2 last night at the Forum to do something about it. The Canadiens were trailing 2-1. A loss would send them to Inglewood, Calif., for Games 3 and 4 trailing 2-0 in the series. Demers asked referee Kerry Fraser to measure McSorley's stick.

"It was a desperate weapon for us," Montreal goalie Patrick Roy said.

The down side was that if the stick was legal, the Canadiens would be penalized. But Fraser ruled McSorley's blade was curved more than the half-inch limit, resulting in a minor penalty and a $200 fine.

The Kings were penalized, Demers pulled Roy and Montreal had a 6-on-4 power play. Thirty-two seconds later, defenseman Eric Desjardins beat Kings goalie Kelly Hrudey with a slap shot from near the blue line in the middle of the ice to tie it at 2. Desjardins completed his first NHL hat trick 51 seconds into overtime to give the Canadiens a 3-2 victory and even the series.

"You're down 2-0 in the series if you don't do it," Demers said of asking for the stick ruling. "We just did our job. There's no big hero here."

But Kings coach Barry Melrose said he would not have tried to win a game by calling for a stick measurement. "I believe the two teams should [decide the game]," he said. "We got a lesson tonight. Obviously, we're going to have to check our skate laces and our sticks. . . . Would we have called it? No. I don't believe in winning like that."

Kings defenseman Charlie Huddy said many players in the game were using illegal sticks. "It's just a question of, 'Is it going to be called?' " he said.

Teammate Wayne Gretzky said: "It's pretty obvious Marty has a big curve. But, hey, that's just part of the game. He [Demers] is a smart coach. They've got 23 banners here for a reason. You do everything you can to win in this game."

McSorley seemed unusually calm afterward, discussing the incident matter-of-factly but obviously not feeling he cost his team the game.

"I don't feel good about it," he said. "I feel like I made a mistake. . . . I just cut down a few sticks this morning and went with them. I should have made the change. It's never been called all year against us and I think it is the first time it's ever been called against me in my career."

The stick-measuring incident overshadowed an intense, well-played defensive game in which the goalies were brilliant. Gretzky pointed out that the Kings have been on a three-game road trip, since they clinched the Campbell Conference finals in Toronto Saturday and won here, 4-1, in Game 1 Tuesday.

Melrose said: "Obviously, they're fresher than us a little bit. They looked it tonight."

Desjardins opened the scoring at 18:31 of the first period with a slap shot from the left point. Dave Taylor's short-handed goal, his third goal of the playoffs, 5:12 into the second period tied it for the Kings. Taylor set up Pat Conacher's backhander for his sixth goal 8:32 into the third period to put the Kings ahead 2-1.

Then came Desjardins' heroics. He said the last hat trick he scored was "in peewees." He added: "For sure, I never dreamed of that. It was emotional. It was great."

"Now it's 1-1," Roy said. "We've got three chances to win one game in L.A. It's possible."

STANLEY CUP FINALS

CANADIENS VS. KINGS (Series tied, 1-1) Game 1 Kings 4, Canadiens 1 Yesterday Canadiens 3, Kings 2

Tomorrow at Los Angeles 8:40

Monday at Los Angeles 9:10

Wed. at Montreal 7:30

June 12* at Los Angeles 8:40

June 15* at Montreal 7:30

* if necessary

TV: ESPN

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