Kings must work overtime to stay with Canadiens now More LeClair heroics put Montreal up, 3-1 HOCKEY

June 08, 1993|By Viv Bernstein | Viv Bernstein,The Hartford Courant

INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings and Montreal Canadiens are closing in on the record for most overtime games in a Stanley Cup championship series.

How fitting. With three overtime games in the finals so far, including Game 4 last night at the Great Western Forum, the 1993 playoffs are at a record 28 and counting.

But if the Kings can't figure out how to win one of these overtimes, they're not going to last long enough to tie the record of five set in 1951.

Canadiens wing John LeClair, who scored the game-winner in overtime in Game 3, did it again in Game 4 last night, lifting the Canadiens to a 3-2 victory and a commanding 3-1 series lead heading into Game 5 at the Montreal Forum tomorrow.

LeClair's goal came 14:37 into the overtime period. That's at least an improvement for the Kings, who lost the previous two games in the first minute of overtime.

But it was little consolation.

"It's angry," coach Barry Melrose said of the feeling in the locker room. "That's good, because we played hard. We played very well tonight. We've got to do it again."

It will be a tough trick, coming back from a 3-1 series deficit. The reality that they have to win in regulation to have a chance doesn't help.

The Canadiens are 10-1 in overtime in the playoffs, all 10 in a row after losing an opening-series game against Quebec.

"We believe at this point in time, without being cocky and trying to be very modest, we believe that we can win," Canadiens coach Jacques Demers said. "It's just a feeling when you go 10 straight without losing."

Canadiens goalie Patrick Roy, who withstood a furious Kings attack in overtime, had 40 saves. Losing goalie Kelly Hrudey had 36.

"I feel good in overtime," said Roy, who has all the overtime victories for the Kings and is likely to win his second Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP (the first came in '86) if he keeps it up. "I feel just perfect. I just want to make myself tough to beat."

Despite the Kings' 10 shots in overtime, including a point-blank attempt by Wayne Gretzky, Roy was perfect.

Said teammate Kirk Muller: "I think we're starting to take him for granted."

Maybe the Kings took Hrudey for granted a bit. He had played just as well, but in the end, Hrudey was abandoned by his teammates.

It was LeClair who carried the puck into the Kings zone down the left side on a 2-on-1 break. With defenseman Daryl Sydor the only one back for the Kings, he went down to the ice and cut off the passing lane. Hrudey came far out of the net to his left to cut off the shooting angle.

Hrudey did such a good job that LeClair shot it right into the goalie. But the rebound came back to LeClair behind the net and just off the left post. With Hrudey still out of the net, LeClair stepped up and banked the puck off Sydor into the net.

"I had pass on my mind all the time," LeClair said. "I thought if I could fake it I could get the defenseman out of position and when he did that Hrudey came on me and I really didn't have a passing lane to [Stephan] Lebeau. I ended up behind the net with everybody out of the net. I tried to jam it in by myself and I got a little help.

"I don't think anybody can see themselves scoring back-to-back [overtime] goals."

He should have thanked Sydor, who seemed stunned after the game.

"I saw he got Kelly out of position," Sydor said. "I just reacted to go down. He just shot the puck out, it went off me and in. I just went on instinct. It obviously was the wrong instinct."

STANLEY CUP FINALS

CANADIENS VS. KINGS (Canadiens lead series, 3-1) Game 1 Kings, 4-1

Game 2 Canadiens, 3-2 (OT)

Game 3 Canadiens, 4-3 (OT)

Last night Canadiens, 3-2 (OT)

Tomorrow at Montreal 7:30

Saturday* at Los Angeles 8:40

June 15* at Montreal 7:30

* If necessary

TV: ESPN

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