Before I get into this, I just want to mention that it was Tom Cruise you may have seen on the sports news watching the game from a private box at the Vancouver game and not me.
Montreal 3, Canucks 2. Yes, it’s true. The first Habs win in Vancouver since 2000. Not that Vancouver has been better than the Habs every game since 2000, but they’ve managed to win anyway.
In 2000, players didn’t wear helmets and goalies didn’t wear masks. (yes they did, I’m just being silly after drinking four big pints in celebration of one of the most amazing nights I’ve experienced in as long as I can remember).
Of the 20,000 or so at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, I’m guessing 9,000 were Habs fans. In bars and restaurants and on streets throughout, Habs fans were everywhere. At the rink, cheers were as loud for the Habs as they were for the Canucks. They sang Ole, Ole. They wore new and vintage Habs sweaters. They chanted Go Habs Go and drowned out lesser Canucks chants.
It made my heart soar like all the birds that can really soar.
Surely the whole thing must piss off Canucks fans.
And the game?
We jumped out in the beginning, outshooting Vancouver at one point about 15 to 2 or so. But penalties, as they do, changed momentum and the Canucks, a fine-looking team for sure, especially those Sedins, climbed back in and took over the shot tally from the second period on. It was stressful, Habs fans were louder than loud, our seats were wonderful - just eight rows up from David Desharnais and Brian Gionta scoring only 30 feet in front of us, and it became one of the best evenings Luciena and I have spent in years except for…..never mind.
Tonight was magical. Mystical. Like a script written. In the pre-game warm-up, we went down to ice level at Montreal’s end and watched PK and Carey and the boys get ready and I looked over often at my wife and she, being a fine Habs fan at her first Habs game, had eyeballs as big as saucers and I knew at this point that I’m a good, solid husband.
Montreal played well in this game, as least I thought so considering the penalties that needed to be killed. The flow and rhythm was lost for a great part as the boys trooped to the sin bin, but it didn’t stop the noise and atmosphere from the crazy and delightful Habs fans who traveled from all corners of the province and beyond to see their team knock off the first-overall Canucks and make my day like it’s rarely made.
What a night. Beating the Canucks after losing in Edmonton and Calgary. Back on the winning track. Celebrating with thousands of Habs fans three thousand miles from Montreal. Wishing I could kick the fish mascot in the ass.
What a night. Thank you Habs, for the magic. And for just being you.
Montreal goal scorers were David Desharnais on a beautiful breakaway, Brian Gionta, and Andrei Kostitsyn with the winner.
Shots on goal – 39-25 Canucks
Next up - Home to destroy the Leafs.
Stanley Park, in the title of this story, was named after Lord Stanley of Preston, the man who donated the Stanley Cup. Stanley Park opened in Vancouver in 1888.