Mario Lemieux. (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Canadiens have made it a habit of playing on the biggest football day of the year. There have been some superb performance over the years, too.
Naturally, Super Bowl Sunday is best known for football. Montrealers and fans of the local NHL team may have a little something to say about that.
The Canadiens have hosted back-to-back matinees on the weekend of the Super Bowl since the 1990-91 season. The festivities culminate Sunday with the second game, which leads into the big football matchup.
The Sunday tradition has treated the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge well over the last quarter century. They’re 13-10-1 in the 24 games. (The one mark in the right-hand column was a 2-2 tie to Philadelphia in 2002. Remember those?) The 2002 All-Star Game and the 2004-05 lockout were the only times the Canadiens haven’t played on Super Bowl Sunday since the tradition began.
With the Canadiens hosting the NHL’s leading scorer and one of the sports most dynamic players in Connor McDavid, it’s an appropriate chance to look back at some of the memorable offensive performances from Super Bowl Sunday in Montreal.
Feb. 4, 2007 – Tomas Plekanec and Sheldon Souray
It was Sidney Crosby’s sophomore campaign and the first – and only – time he’s played against his favorite childhood NHL team on Super Bowl Sunday. He didn’t disappoint with a two-assist effort. However, it was Plekanec and Souray who were the offensive linchpins in a 4-3 overtime victory for the Canadiens. Both had three points, capped off by Plekanec’s assist on Souray’s game winner.
Feb. 5, 2006 – Michael Ryder
Philadelphia was no match for the Canadiens on this afternoon. Montreal easily skated away with a 5-0 win as Ryder netted a hat trick. The goals represented one-tenth of Ryder’s goal output on the season. He netted 30, a feat he would replicate in 2006-07.
Feb. 1, 2004 – Niklas Sundstrom
The Canadiens topped the Chicago Blackhawks 6-4 and were led by Sundstrom’s one-goal, two-assist performance. The game was a high-water mark for the right winger over his parts of three seasons in a Canadiens uniform. Sundstrom had 20 points in 66 games in 2003-04 before playing his final 55 contests for Montreal the year following the NHL lockout.
Jan. 28, 2001 – Trevor Linden
It’s hard to envision Linden wearing anything other than Vancouver Canucks’ colors. But there was indeed a stretch around the turn of the century where he played for three other teams before returning to Vancouver. One of those was the Canadiens. Linden played 107 games for Montreal and was instrumental in a 4-1 win over Ottawa on Super Bowl Sunday 2001. He was traded to the Islanders a few weeks later.
Jan. 31, 1999 – Jaromir Jagr
It’s amazing to think this was Jagr’s ninth NHL season and he’s still playing today. This was at the apex of Jagr’s Hall of Fame career as he was the defending Art Ross Trophy winner and would win another by the spring (two of the five in his career). The Pittsburgh Penguins right winger torched the Canadiens on this afternoon, scoring twice and adding two assists in a 5-3 win.
Jan. 26, 1997 – Mario Lemieux and Ron Francis
This was the 11th and final time Lemieux scored four goals in a game over the course of his brilliant career. A pretty amazing feat in the context of today’s low-scoring NHL. Super Mario had a little help from Francis, a fellow Hall of Famer who is fifth on the all-time points list with 1,798. Francis had three assists. Thanks to the two superstars, Pittsburgh beat the Canadiens 5-2.
Jan. 28, 1996 – Martin Rucinsky, Vincent Damphousse and Jozef Stumpel
The Canadiens edged their longtime rivals, the Boston Bruins, 5-4 in a game that featured three players record three points. For Montreal, the honor belonged to Rucinsky and Damphousse, a center who would go on to captain the team the next three seasons. Meanwhile, Stumpel earned three assists a losing cause.
Jan. 31, 1993 – Josef Beranek and Garry Galley
Philadelphia lost 6-4 but two of its players had the most impressive offensive afternoons. Beranek, a center, scored twice and added an assist, while blueliner Galley had three helpers of his own.