Montreal Canadiens: This Day in Habs History: Habs Set Defensive Records, But Lose To Arturs Irbe

22 November, 1997: Vincent Damphousse Montreal Canadiens Mandatory Credit: Robert Laberge /Allsport
22 November, 1997: Vincent Damphousse Montreal Canadiens Mandatory Credit: Robert Laberge /Allsport /
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Montreal Canadiens history books are filled with great players, historic achievements, dynasties, Hart, Vezina and Norris Trophy’s and lots and lots of Stanley Cups.

You can debate whether the best teams in franchise history were the ones built in the 1950’s that won five consecutive Stanley Cups, or the teams in the late 1970’s that won four straight Stanley Cups and set regular season records for wins and points.

There is no question, some of the worst teams were around in the late 1990’s.

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Between 1926 and 1994, the Habs would only miss the playoffs four times. They would then miss the postseason five of the next nine seasons, including three in a row from 1999-2001. It’s really no surprise the worst stint in franchise history came shortly after trading away Patrick Roy, Pierre Turgeon, John LeClair and Eric Desjardins.

In the midst of that ugly stretch, the Habs had one dominating game on the ice, but still found a way to lose.

It was January 30, 1999, exactly 22 years ago when the Habs faced the Carolina Hurricanes at the Molson Centre, which is now known as the Bell Centre. The Canadiens would set a couple of defensive records in the game, but still couldn’t win the game.

They allowed just ten shots in the whole game, which was a franchise low. They also went an entire period without allowing a shot on goal for the first time in franchise history. They would outshoot the Hurricanes 45-10, including 18-0 in the third period.

They would lose the game 3-1.

Jeff Hackett allowed three goals on eight shots in the second period, after stopping the only two shots he faced in the first period. Frederic Chabot replaced Hackett for the third period, but didn’t face a single shot on goal.

The Canadiens could only muster one goal, by Martin Rucinsky, on 45 shots in the game. Hurricanes goaltender Arturs Irbe was fantastic, stopping the other 44 shots he faced.

The loss would move the Canadiens overall record to 18-23-8 and drop them to 11th in the Eastern Conference standings. The only teams in the league averaging less goals per game at the time were the Tampa Bay Lightning and San Jose Sharks, two teams who had only been around for a few years.

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The Canadiens would miss the playoffs for the next three seasons.