The victory parade is scheduled Wednesday on St. Catherine Street in Montreal and, after the Canadiens' overtime heroics in Madison Square Garden early this morning, few are doubting that they will be celebrating the acquisition of their fourth straight Stanley Cup.
Serge Savard's goal at 12:34 a.m., after 7 minutes 25 seconds of extra time, gave the Rangers a 4-3 victory and boosted their lead to 3-1 in the best-of-seven final series.
Game 5 will be played Monday night in Montreal's Forum and shown on the Capital Centre TelScreen at 8 p.m. ( $2 admission, children and parking free). But there is no real chance left for the Rangers and Montreal Coach Scotty Bowman admitted that all his players had to do was "keep both feet on the ground."
The Rangers were granted a second chance in their effort to tie the series, but even that proved useless against the surging Canadiens.
A minute before Savard ended the game officially, Larry Robinson drilled a 55-foot shot that tickled the net, but not sufficiently to persuade the Chicago-based goal judge to flash the red light. The play developed so quickly that referee Andy Van Hellemond was in no position to see it and was forced to accept the goal judge's ruling that the puck stayed out.
"There was no sound, so if it didn't go in the net, what did it hit?" Robinson asked. "It hit (goalie John) Davidson's stick and went up in the top of the net and came back out. When you don't call that one, usually the way things go the other team comes back and scores."
Several Montreal players had started off the bench onto the ice to congratulate Robinson and, as play continued, the entire team was waving and pointing to the goal. There was considerable argument when a stop page occurred and Bowman feared his players would lose control.
"They were really high strung, they knew the importance of it," Bowman said. "One goal means two games, you're either even or up two. I was just trying to get the guys on the bench to sit down."
It was a brief sit, because Savard quickly had everyone jumping up again. After Montreal's Guy Lafleur, goalless despite 11 shots, was tied up by Mario Marois as he crossed the Ranger blue line, defenseman Savard trailed the play, grabbed the loose puck and fired a backhander that beat Davidson on the short side. It was Savard's first overtime goal and he relished it.
"It was a big goal, because we all figured Larry's goal was in and it would have been terrible to lose after that," Savard said. "I saw Lafleur lose the puck going around the defenseman and I just figured, if nobody wants to go, I'll go.
"I was in close in the third period and Davidson said, "What the hell are you doing here? Go back to the blue line.' I told him I'll be back."
The Canadiens, although rolling up a 42-21 edge in shots, never led in the game until it was over. Phil Esposito gave the Rangers their third and last advantage at 3-2 early in the third period with his 58th career Stanley Cup goal. Bob Gainey got it back 121 seconds later.
Davidson had swept the puck into the corner at his left, where Gainey and Ranger Dave Maloney arrived together. Gainey flattened Maloney, recovered the puck and, using Carol Vadnais as a screen, beat Davidson low on the glove side.
"Those were great individual efforts, by Gainey on the tying goal and by Savard on the winning goal," Boman said. "There's always danger of a hot goaltender staying hot and Davidson was hot. That was a tough game to lose." CAPTION: Picture, Yvon Lambert is hugged by helmeted teammate Marion Tremblay after beating Ranger goalie John Davidson. AP