Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Feb 24, 1990: Habs Blast a Record 61 Shots

image These penguins could have taken to the ice on Feb 24, 1990 and the result would have been the same. A 61-shot, 11-1 victory for the Canadiens over Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh Penguins were another year away from their first Stanley Cup, and missing their superstar player, when the Montreal Canadiens fired 61 shots on goal in an 11-1 rout.

The Penguins had been without Mario Lemieux since he went out with a back injury on February 14. Prior to the injury Lemieux had been on an NHL record 46-game points streak. He wouldn’t return for the rest of the season.

In light of Lemieux’s offensive talent present, the Penguins were still a .500 team with a pathetic defense. Much work was to be done in Lemeiux’s absence, and over the next 14 months, before the franchise would hoist Lord Stanley’s mug.

This night in February proved that, in light of Pittsburgh’s recent defensive improvement.

The Canadiens scored four goals in the first period and had 12 shots on Penguins goalie Frank Pietrangelo before Pittsburgh got their first.

“They were just coming at us and coming at us and coming at us all night long ,” said Penguins coach Craig Patrick. “They dominated us in every aspect of the game.”

Guy Carbonneau opened the scoring in the first period, and added three assists on the night.

“I don’t think anyone hit us all night,” Carbonneau said. “They gave us a lot of room in their end.”

By the time Mike McPhee scored Montreal’s fifth goal, early in the second period. A fan in the Forum crowd was heard playing a rendition of “Taps” on a trumpet.

Stephane Richer and Russ Courtnall each had two goals. Petr Svoboda, Mats Naslund, Shayne Corson and Claude Lemieux rounded out the scoring for Montreal.

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Phil Bourque snapped Patrick Roy’s shutout bid with an early third period goal. With All-Star defenceman Chris Chelios out of the lineup with an injury, Roy had a relatively busy night making 25 saves against a Lemieux-less offense.

“Everything we did tonight, we did good,” said the Canadiens Jyrki Lumme. “But Pittsburgh was really bad.”

The 61 shots was a Canadiens record for shots on goal, breaking a team record of 59 set on October 12, 1963. Pietrangelo faced every one.

“They had a lot of quality shots,”said Patrick. “I would venture to guess there were 35-40 good scoring chances.”

The sad story for Pietrangelo was that he was not scheduled to start the game. Wendell Young was to be the starter, but both he and Pietrangelo approached their coach and suggested that Young should start the next night against Quebec.

“We were on national television too – ‘Hockey Night In Canada’” said Pietrangelo. “That meant our families and friends were watching. It was embarrassing.

“You read in the papers sometimes about teams giving up 10,11,12 goals, and you wonder ‘How does that happen?’ Now we know. On paper it looks like they don’t have the capability of scoring 11 goals. But obviously they do.”

Other notes

After this game, the Penguins were 4-44-5 at the Montreal Forum. Coincidentally, the Penguins worse defeat in franchise history had come just eleven years earlier when the Canadiens thumped them 12-0 on February 22, 1979.

The Penguins were one shot from the franchise record for shots against (62) set in March 1989 against Chicago.

The Canadiens 11-goal night left the franchise’s all-time tally at 14,999. Eric Desjardins would score No. 15,000 the next night in a 6-5 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues.

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