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There were 74 seconds left. The Bruins were ahead 4-3, seventh game, in Montreal, a minute and 14 seconds from ending the streak. Six men on the ice? The penalty was called: The Bruins had a crowd on the ice far too long for any official to miss. Then there was Guy Lafleur firing the tying goal on the power play. Here was Yvon Lambert in overtime, taking the pass from Mario Tremblay, drilling the puck past Bruin goalie Gilles Gilbert.
"I want to cry for every one of these guys," goalie Gerry Cheevers, a backup that night, said in the Boston locker room. "Each guy I see makes me want to start crying all over. I just feel so sorry for all of them. They just tried so hard. I've never seen a team try so hard."
"What bothers me is that my 12-year-old son was watching the game," captain Wayne Cashman said. "I have been telling him forever that hard work always pays off. What do I tell him now?"
No change. Every Bruins team that has arrived at the same situation—i.e., spring—has said the same things at the beginning. Jinx? There is no jinx. Streak? There is no streak. What others have done before us is of no importance. We are new people. Every team has also said the same things at the end. Tears have been shared by generations in black and gold sweaters.
The Montreal Canadiens have been blessed. They are the children of prosperity, with perfect teeth, perfect smiles, straight A's on their report cards, perfect bounces of that frozen rubber disc at the perfect times. The Bruins? The Bruins have not been blessed. Not enough.
"Hockey is unfair," goalie Doug Keans says of 1985, when Naslund's late goal won the game and the series. "Just like life."
"We should have beat 'em in 1952," Sandford says. "That was the year we had our chance. We were ahead in the series 3-2, one more game, but we let Montreal tie it 3-3, when Paul Masnick scored a goal to win here at the Garden. Batted it out of the air with his stick. I can still see it. That brought us back to the Forum. The score was 1-1 with about four minutes left. Rocket Richard had been hurt. Knocked out. Cut on the head. He came back. Later said he was still dizzy. He went the length of the ice, a good pass by Doug Harvey to spring him. They said it was the greatest goal in his career. Rocket Richard."
Should have. Would have. Unfair. The line of frustration now continues into a 19th revival. Who can watch? Who would want to watch?
"After we lost the final game, everyone seemed to disappear," Sandford says. "I didn't know where they went. [Defenseman] Hal Laycoe and I were left, and we went to some restaurant in Montreal. We ordered some food, and I guess it was delivered. Neither of us was saying much. Finally Laycoe says, 'The hell with this,' stands up, turns the table upside down and walks out the door. Stuff is everywhere on the floor. A mess. Waiters come running, bring the bill. I'm still sitting there. I have to pay for it all. And I don't even drink."