Whalers Exorcise Demons, Crush Nordiques

You don’t win a series in one game, but Hartford’s performance in Game 1 certainly helped to quell some serious anxiety heading into a rematch with the Quebec Nordiques. Much has been made of the Whalers atrocious performance last season, as they were unceremoniously swept in the first round by the 7th seed Nordiques. The defeat marked their second straight disappointing first round exit, leaving questions swirling around head coach Lanny McDonald’s poor playoff pedigree in his first two seasons. This year, the Whalers’ struggles continued against the Nordiques, dropping the season series and being thoroughly outplayed in their last matchup. Despite taking home the Presidents’ Trophy, fans in Hartford were filled with an air of trepidation, as their faithful braced for what could be another let down.

And while the series is far from over, Hartford showed why they were the NFHL’s best team in 1995. Dominik Hasek tried his best to keep the Whalers at bay, but Ray Ferraro broke through late in the first period, capping Hartford’s dominant performance, as they outshot Quebec 11-4 in the first frame. While John Chabot tied things up early in the second period, the Whalers continued to dominate the pace, retaking the lead on Todd Bergen’s go-ahead, and ultimately, game winning goal. Any concerns of a third period meltdown were quickly squashed as the Whalers put forth a relentless effort, smelling blood in the water. The duo of Mario Lemieux and Luc Robitaille struck again, as Lemieux reeled off a natural hat trick, with Robitaille assisting on all three markers. Not only did Hartford pot four goals in the final frame, but they outshot Quebec 15-3, winning the final shot tally by a commanding 41-16 mark.

“It was a big game for us,” said Lemieux, following his dominant performance. “We know what we’re capable of, and we know what we left on the table the last two years. We’re not looking past the Nordiques and we know what they’ve done to us. We’re going to do whatever we can to make sure that doesn’t happen again this year.”

Up 1-0 in the series, the Whalers will trot out the same lineup for Game 2, though the Nordiques may decide to make some changes. Hartford hopes the strong play will continue, as they look to take a commanding lead in the series before it moves to Quebec in Game 3. That’s all for now Whaler fans, check back in later for more updates, and go Whalers!