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Tales from the Cow Palace: Sharks vs Montreal

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Looking back on the 25th anniversary of a wild game

Pat Falloon
Great shot, Patty!

As fans of the Sharks, we’ve have had things pretty good for a long time now. Sure, things haven’t been perfect, and we fans have had to deal with some horrifying losses. But the team is capable of winning any game not played in Buffalo, and has been for some time now. It wasn’t always this way.

The Sharks only won 28 games in their first two seasons. Personally, I didn’t really mind them being so bad; I was just excited to have a local hockey team. Part of that excitement was due to the fact that great teams and players would be coming to town.

On February 28, 1992, Les Glorieux, Le Club de Hockey Canadien de Montreal, graced the Cow Palace with their presence. The Habs were well on their way to winning their division, and their roster included All Stars like Denis Savard, Guy Carbonneau, Mathieu Schneider, and Kirk Muller.

And in goal? Future Hall of Famer Patrick Roy, who was in the middle of maybe the best season his fantastic career. (Fun fact: Roy led the league with a .914 save percentage in the 1991-92 season. Which would be slightly below league average today.)

This game started out with the Canadiens cruising to a 2-0 lead in the first period. The ending, though, was a wild ride. It has everything you’d associate with first year Sharks’ hockey: Link Gaetz, bad goals, Pat Falloon, Kelly Kisio.

Checkout this video, which picks up the about midway through the third, and we’ll discuss it below:

Pretty wild, right?

  • Note the goalie. Instead of Patrick Roy, in the midst of leading the league in GAA and SV% en route to winning the Vezina & Jennings Trophies, the Sharks played against Andre “Red Light” Racicot. Yes, his nickname was Red Light. (Although, he wasn’t nearly as bad as that nickname implies.) So the Sharks definitely caught a break. But from Montreal’s perspective, the playing Racicot made perfect sense: they were playing back-to-back games on the road. Doesn’t it make sense to play the backup against the worst team in the league, and save Roy for the following night against Wayne Gretzky and the Kings?
  • The video starts with Sharks defenseman Link Gaetz skating the puck out of his zone. You are probably thinking that this video has been slowed down, but trust me, it’s a normal speed. The game really is that much faster today.
  • Gaetz gains the redline and dumps the puck into the offensive zone off the boards. And wait. It’s in the net? Racicot comes out of his net, anticipating that the puck will continue around the boards behind the net, but nope. It takes a wild bounce off boards and winds up in the net. This is one of the craziest goals I have ever seen. It had been years since I had seen it, but I remember it like it was yesterday.
  • You have now seen 1/6 of Link Gaetz NHL goals. This was by far, the most entertaining of them. It is definitely the most fitting goal he ever scored.
  • Those teal sweaters are still awesome, easily the equal of the bleu, blanc, et rouge. The fashion of the crowd, has not aged nearly as well.
  • Randy Hahn admitting that he jinxed Racicot’s shutout bid. Good job Randy!
  • Skip forward a few minutes. The Sharks are on the power play, and Dale Craigwell gets a good chance to tie the game. But Racicot kicks the puck to a defender who skates it out before passing to Guy Carbonneau. Carbonneau was known as one of the best defensive forwards of the era; he won the Selke Trophy three times and was a finalist on three other occasions. Here, he gains the blue line and fires a slap shot at Jeff Hackett, and, of course, he scores. A defensive forward, scoring on an unscreened slap shot from just inside the blue line, today has about the same odds of happening as any of us do at winning the lottery.
  • Cue Brian Hayward telling the audience that the goal is one that Hackett “would really like to have back” with one breath, and then saying that shot at the five-hole “are a very difficult thing for a goaltender, when he has his feet spread too far apart” with the next. So, in the eyes of a contemporary goalie, not a great goal to allow, but you can’t blame the goalie too much. And Hayward isn’t wrong. Goals like this were common at this time.
  • (Seriously how much of a joke is it that so many players from this era were on the NHL’s Top 100, but Thornton, Iginla, Malkin, Chara, & Lundqvist weren’t. I just blacked out and when I came to, I had written 9800 words describing how terrible that list was. I’ve deleted in an attempt to stay on topic here.)
  • With the score 3-1 late in the third, Jean-Francois Quintin scores off a Brian Mullen rebound to pull the Sharks within one. I can name most players from the inaugural season, but Quintin is not a name I remembered. He played 22 NHL games, and scored five goals. Randy tells us that Quintin, who grew up ten minutes away from the Montreal forum, had recently scored his first NHL against the Nordiques. And now he adds his second against the Canadiens. I’m going to go out on a limb and say he has those two puck prominently displayed in his home.
  • Another jump ahead. 3.4 seconds left in the third. Sharks are down 3-2. The face off is in Montreal’s zone, but this game is over, right?
  • Kelly Kisio wins the draw, playing the puck back to Pat Falloon. But Falloon doesn’t shoot immediately. He has to catch and drop the puck and waits a fraction of a second for the traffic to somewhat abate. Falloon then fires an absolute laser to the back of the net.
  • Everybody is happy! Happy Kisio congratulates happy Falloon! The crowd at the Cow Palace is happy!
  • Cut to a shot of a dejected Racicot.
  • I’ll admit it: I was not certain that Falloon got the shot off with enough time left for it to get to the net. The slow motion replay confirms that we do have a good hockey goal here. And how confused are you right now that it wasn’t reviewed for half an hour?
  • Randy sums up what everybody wearing a Montreal sweater is thinking “Strange things happen in the Cow Palace.”
  • Jump ahead to the end of overtime. The Sharks are lined up in almost exactly the same formation as they were at the end of the third. 2.7 seconds left, faceoff on the same side of Racicot. Can they do it again?
  • Kisio wins the draw back to Falloon. Falloon rips a shot eerily similar to the one he had previously scored on. And we all think it’s going in again.
  • Sadly, the puck bounces off of one of the bodies between Falloon and the net, deflecting harmlessly to the corner.
  • The game ends in a tie, but it kind of felt like a win.