Not a long review, just enough to say that the system invented by Emilio Estevez that has long defined hockey in Anaheim left the Canadiens defenseless.
The sight of Kunitz, Getzlaf, Perry, Pronger, and a little girl in a pony-tail, locked in a V formation, steaming down the ice had the Canadiens' shivery-legged squad running for the dressing rooms.
A time-out taken in the second period proved to be the turning point as coach Estevez could clearly be heard riling up his squad, comprised, amongst others, of Niedermayer, Beauchemin, Selanne and the token fat ethnic kid. "We're Ducks, and Ducks don't lose. They play with pride. Quack Quack Quack!!!". After that, Anaheim never looked back.
Estevez knew that everything would go right when the woman he had been courting for the longest time, but with whom he recently had differences of opinions, showed up unexpectedly in the middle of the game. Amazingly, Estevez was able to notice her entrance in the building among the 21 273 spectators, where she even found the only empty seat, conveniently located in the reds.
She gestured to him from far away and whispered a long sentence that he could read on her lips: "I know you've done your best with this squad and I know my billionaire father has given you a hard time. I just want you to know I'm proud of you and I wouldn't miss this game for the world, even though I said I would late last night when you came to see me at my home".
On the next shift, the Ducks won the faceoff cleanly and all retreated to their own end, at which point they put together a dazzling string of back-passes, followed by pirouettes, a somersault, and a player sliding with the puck through a Habs defender's legs, and emerging before Carey Price, freezing him with a back flip move, and batting the puck out of mid-air beyond the Canadiens' goaltender. During this entire 134-second play, no Montreal Canadien managed to touch the puck, nor appeared to move a single inch from their respective positions on the ice.
The amazing goal had Duck fans in Montreal jumping out of their seats. Eztevez's girlfriend leaped into her friend's arms, then turned to Eztevez, who happened to be looking at her at that very moment, and winked at him, a gesture he saw 700 feet away.
The Habs needed to regroup and throw the Ducks off their game. On the next faceoff after the goal, Canadiens' enforcer Georges Laraque levelled Beauchemin with a dirty hit from behind. An incensed Beauchemin limped back to the bench where Eztevez offered him these wise words: " You're better than that, don't play his game". On his next shift, Beauchemin deked Laraque, and four other players to score a beautiful goal for the Ducks. Beauchemin then looked at a dejected Laraque on the Canadiens' bench and smiled.
But the Canadiens kept coming back. With 12 seconds left in the game, the Habs led 4-3. The Ducks had one last chance but the draw was in their zone. Anaheim won the faceoff and charged into the Canadiens' end. Fans anxiously glanced at the clock that, strangely, only lost 2 seconds every time they checked, even though much more time had passed. About 43 actual seconds later, with one second left on the clock, the Ducks slipped the puck past a sprawling Price to tie the game at 4.
One last inspirational sermon from Estevez had the team pumped: "I've never been more proud of a group of guys, a token fat ethnic kid, and a girl with a pony-tail, in my entire life. Win or lose, Ducks, I'm proud of you."On the Candiens' bench, coach Carbonneau was yelling at his players: "you're an embarrassment, you're a bunch of pathetic losers! Hey Lapierre, you can forget about your brother's kidney transplant if you don't score the winner. I'll ship that kidney off to Waskaganish if you don't win this for us!".
The overtime was fought with incredible intensity, with neither team relinquishing an inch. Both teams delivered bone-crunching hits. Both goalies made incredible saves, with Anaheim's goaltender often having to remove his mask and adjust his glasses to see the play better. The Canadiens were applying incredible pressure in the Ducks' zone late in the period, but maligned defenceman Ryan O'Byrne coughed up the puck at the blue line and a young duck player, who had been under-achieving all, movie, er... season long, jumped ahead on a breakaway. Every player on the Ducks' bench rose and the crowd suddenly fell silent, as the player skated into the offensive zone. As he was about to put a move on Price, O'Byrne tripped him from behind.
With 1 second left on the clock, the referee called a penalty shot.
The young Duck had failed to score on 34 previous penalty shots and was terrified by the prospect of missing this one, in this totally important, 7th game of the regular season.
But there he was at centre ice, standing tall with the puck at his feet. A drop of sweat fell off Carey Price's forehead, as he blinked his eyes in slow-motion, waiting for the young Duck to cross into Anaheim's zone. The young forward, reached into his hockey pants and pulled out an asthma pump. He took a deep puff, locked his hands on his stick and moved forward with unrelenting confidence. One fake left, another fake right, one fake left, another fake to the left, one more fake to the right, one to the left, and again to the left, back to the right, and the forward lifted the puck beyond the bewildered Price's shoulders. The red light flashed, the Ducks bench erupted in volcanic fury, and Estevez's girlfriend came running down the stands, bumping her way through the joyous crowd. When she got to the Ducks' bench, the glass separating her from Emilio would not stop her from telling him what she had always known, but fought so hard to resist. Not this time. "I love you", she told him.
The Ducks celebrated at centre ice. Carbonneau couldn't stop hurling insults at his players, and cheezy 80's saxophone music could be heard through the Bell Centre's speakers. This morning, Estevez married his girlfriend despite her disgruntled father, and the young newlyweds sped off after the ceremony in an old Beetle, with rattling cans alerting onlookers to what the sign on the car proudly read: Just Married.
*Author's note: The Ducks never won another game that season and the Habs won the Stanley Cup.