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Skrudland's nine seconds of fame

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
Habs grinder made NHL playoff history 21 years ago

MONTREAL - It may have happened over 20 years ago, but Brian Skrudland's record-breaking goal against the Flames in the 1986 Stanley Cup Finals won't soon be forgotten by fans, nor the goal scorer himself.

On May 18, 1986, the Canadiens headed into Game 2 of the Cup Final down 1-0 in the series and facing a must-win situation. Sixty minutes of regulation solved nothing as the Habs and Flames headed back to their dressing rooms deadlocked at 2-2.

On a hunch, rookie Habs coach Jean Perron sent out his checking line of Skrudland, Mike McPhee and Claude Lemieux to begin overtime.


Brian Skrudland played for the Canadiens from 1985 to 1993.

"I'm sure the Flames were like, what the hell are they thinking?" admitted Skrudland. "We were an energy line so I guess Jean was thinking we could set the tone and mix things up a little to start OT."

The trio did more than that before even breaking a sweat. After winning the opening face-off, longtime linemates Skrudland and McPhee found themselves on a 2-on-1. Hardly known for his abilities as a playmaker, McPhee faked a shot before feathering a perfect feed to Skrudland, who only had to redirect the puck past Mike Vernon. The memorable play took all of nine seconds and still stands as the NHL's fastest playoff overtime goal.

"Mike couldn't have made a nicer play than that, but leave it to me to almost screw it up," laughed Skrudland. "I had a wide open net, the full 4-by-6 to shoot at, but I still managed to bank it in off the post and in. The important thing was that it got past Vernon and we headed home with the series tied 1-1."

The Flames never recovered. The Canadiens won the next three games to win the series in five games, delivering Stanley Cup No. 23 to Montreal. No stranger to being asked about that Cup or his famous goal, Skrudland is always up for a trip down memory lane.

"I still get asked about that goal wherever I go and I can't say I ever get sick of talking about it," said Skrudland, a former NHL assistant coach with the Flames and now the VP Sales and Marketing for Calgary-based Argo Sales Ltd. "It was an incredibly proud moment for me, and as far as goals go, they don't come much bigger than that. Also to have it happen while I was with an amazing organization like the Canadiens was just icing on the cake.

The Fast and the Furious
Here's a list of the Canadiens' quickest overtime goals in the playoffs - all scored within the first minute of the first extra frame.
May 18, 1986 0:09 Brian Skrudland MTL 3 @ CGY 2
April 19, 1991 0:27 Stephane Richer MTL 4 @ BOS 3
April 11, 1980 0:29 Yvon Lambert MTL 4 @ HFD 3
June 5, 1993 0:34 John LeClair MTL 4 @ LA 3
April 10, 1969 0:42 Ralph Backstrom BOS 2 @ MTL 3
June 3, 1993 0:51 Eric Desjardins LA 2 @ MTL 3

"I always say who would have thought nine seconds could change someone's life. And I don't mean in the bedroom," added the 43-year-old Skrudland. "Seeing the goal is always a treat, and whenever the playoffs roll around, it usually gets mentioned once a game goes to overtime."

The spirit of that Stanley Cup run in the spring of 1986, lives on with Skrudland and his teammates having never forgotten the year the underdog Habs shocked the hockey world with little known 20-year-old Patrick Roy between the pipes.

 "Patrick was just unbelievable for us," said Skrudland, who also had the unenviable task of facing Roy in the 1996 Stanley Cup Final when the Avalanche swept Skrudland and the Panthers. "Let's just say it's was a lot more fun to play with Patty than against him!"

 Longtime linemate and close buddy Mike McPhee and Skrudland still keep in touch and their bond formed in Montreal lives on today.

 "We went through so much together. Roommates as teammates back in the day with the Habs and we're even roomies sometimes now as well," Skrudland said. "We play in a charity golf tournament every year and we're usually put in the same room there too. But I think this year, because we're one of the old guys, we'll finally get our own separate rooms. It's about time, it only took 20 years!"

Manny Almela is a writer for

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