As it turned out, he held up under an even worse attack. The Rangers came out flying in Game 3 in Madison Square Garden, but Roy was phenomenal, turning back 44 of 47 shots to keep Montreal in the game. Three times the Rangers went ahead by a goal, and three times the Canadiens caught up—Bobby Smith tying the score at 3-3 with 2:04 left, on a power-play goal. The Rangers kept coming. For 9� minutes of the overtime it was all New York as the Rangers blasted 13 shots at Roy without success. Then, suddenly, the Canadiens busted out two-on-none, beneficiaries of a freak collision between Ranger defenseman James Patrick and linesman Ray Scapinello. The 20-year-old Lemieux—who is no relation to Pittsburgh star Mario but is the Canadiens' leading goal scorer in the playoffs—took the feed from Mike McPhee and buried it, giving the Canadiens a 3-0 lead and leaving the Rangers wagging their heads, wondering what they had to do to solve the riddle of Roy. From the third period on, the Rangers had outshot the Canadiens 25-7, but had been outscored 3-1. "That's the best goaltending we've had since I've been here," said Robinson afterward, a shocking endorsement, considering that Robinson had played six years with Hall of Famer Ken Dryden.
But Gainey concurred. "Ken kept us in a lot of games for the first period, which allowed us to regroup," said the Canadiens' captain. " Roy was under a barrage from the opening face-off, and it never let up. I've never seen a goalie play a game like that in the playoffs."
Asked afterward what it felt like, facing 47 shots, Roy beamed and said, "Last year I face 47 shots every game, only all the time we lose."
That was while playing for the Granby Bisons of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, who were so bad that Roy's goals-against average in 44 games was a beefy 5.55. And he was playing well. So well, in fact, that the third-place Sherbrooke Canadiens of the American Hockey League called him up for last year's playoffs, and Roy led them to the Calder Cup—the AHL's top prize—with a 2.89 goals-against average. Largely on the basis of that showing, Roy, a native of Quebec City, started this season in Montreal, posting a 23-19-3 record and a respectable 3.30 goals-against average during the regular schedule.
Roy's style is hardly classic. Like many tall goalies—he is 6 feet and a rather scrawny 165 pounds—Roy spends a lot of his time on his knees, stopping low shots by fanning out his pads in a butterfly. His nickname in French, Casseau, defies literal translation, but it roughly means that Roy, when it comes to eating, is a human garbage pail. Burgers, fries, potato chips—reflex food, great for goalies. Now you see it, now you don't.
"He's a great puck stopper," says Ranger assistant coach Jack Birch, "but technically he's got some flaws. In particular, he needs work on his angles and his puck-handling ability." One of the Rangers' strategies, then, was to throw the puck into the Montreal zone and hope to force Roy to misplay it.
It worked in Game 4, a 2-0 Rangers shutout that, if nothing else, gave New Yorkers one last chance to salute their own splendid goalie, John Vanbiesbrouck, for his near miraculous work in the playoffs. Vanbiesbrouck's was the only artistry to be seen on this night. The first goal of the game came when Roy meandered behind his net to play a Ranger dump-in, inadvertently deflecting the puck out front, where New York's Bob Brooke backhanded it into the empty net. So much for the offense. Things went downhill from there. The game became chippy, but it was unclear whether the brawling started first in the stands and then spread to the ice, or vice versa. The Garden fans were in rare form all evening, distinguishing themselves early by booing throughout the playing of the Canadian national anthem, then hurling some wadded-up paper at at Roy while he stood tending the Montreal goal. Now that the Rangers have been eliminated, the Garden cuckoos presumably will migrate to their summer nesting grounds, in flocks of 50,000 or more, at Yankee Stadium.
"I hope we finish this series on Friday so we don't have to come back to this zoo," said Canadien defenseman Craig Ludwig.
Which, of course, they did. Good thing, too—the Forum fans were beginning to pick up bad habits. "This never happened before—never," lamented Ca-mil Desroches, a Forum official, before the start of Game 5, as—sacr� bleu!—the normally polite Montreal fans lustily booed The Star-Spangled Banner in revenge for their anthem's treatment in New York. The Rangers took an early 1-0 lead in the game, scoring on a tip-in by Tomas Sandstrom, but Montreal quickly overcame the deficit with goals by Lemieux—the rookie's ninth of the playoffs—and Smith, both coming on power plays. For the series, the Canadiens' power play clicked for five goals in 24 chances; the Rangers scored just twice out of 23.
The score stood 2-1 going into the third period, and the Rangers figured to come out scrambling for their lives. But the Canadiens wouldn't let them. New York could barely get the puck out of its zone, never mind mount a serious attack. In the final 20 minutes of their season—and this shows just how formidable the Montreal defense can be—the Rangers had only two shots on goal, and the second didn't come until the 19-minute mark, after Gainey had pounced on a rebound to salt away the 3-1 win. Two lousy shots. If ever a hockey team had thrown up its collective hands to shout �No m�s! it was the Rangers in the third period. Coach Ted Sator never even bothered to pull Vanbiesbrouck at the end. He was happy to say they had been close.