The biggest shock arrived 10 minutes after the Whalers had dusted off Quebec in three straight.
The Whalers had eliminated the Nordiques from the Adams Division semifinals with a 9-4 thrashing Saturday night and had advanced to the divisional finals against Montreal.
John Anderson, with two goals and four assists, had fallen one point shy of the NHL playoff record of Wayne Gretzky. Kevin Dineen had five points and Ray Ferraro had two goals.
Hockey had come out from the dark, murky closet of years of defeat in Hartford as 15,126 fans had gone bonkers at the Civic Center. They had waved green towels, had shouted "Sweep! Sweep! Sweep!" and had serenaded the Nordiques with, "Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, hey, hey, hey goodbye."
None of this, however, was as shocking as what happened at 10:45 p.m.
"Well, you all wanted to see this and I'm only going to give it to you once," announced Whalers coach Jack Evans.
And then the man accused of stone-face stoicism broke into a smile as wide as the St. Lawrence River.
The Nordiques, who finished first in the Adams Division, had what their followers called a "beautiful" dream of advancing to the Stanley Cup finals this season.
The Nordiques didn't even get past the best-of-five first round. They didn't even get one victory as the Adams Division regular-season titlists failed for the fifth straight season to advance beyond the divisional playoffs.
The Nordiques ran smack into Cinderella's team, which has become a legitimate playoff threat. The team with the silver skate now has the golden touch.
"Isn't this just great?" said Chairman and Managing General Partner Howard Baldwin.
For the Whalers and hockey in this town and state, it certainly is.
The Whalers, 15-3-2 in their past 20 games and 11-1-2 in their past 14, are going to the Adams Division finals against the Canadiens, who swept Boston with a 4-3 victory in Boston Garden on Saturday night. Game 1 is Thursday in Montreal.
La grosse femme (the fat lady) sang last night for the Nordiques, but now the Whalers hope she begins tuning her vocal cords for Les Canadiens. The Whalers will cross the St. Lawrence again. The Whalers have become an unwelcome third party to the annual Battle of Quebec.
The Whalers, who finished in fourth place after a 34-day playoff drive, and their city are working on their own set of beautiful dreams.
With Mike Liut, the Whalers got better goaltending than the Nordiques.
They got better play from their defense than the Nordiques, although Quebec was battered by injuries on the blue line.
And the Whalers got more offense than the Nordiques. The line of Ron Francis, Anderson and Dineen, which had one power-play goal in the first two games, broke loose for 13 points in this one. Of course, a 4-for-6 night on the power play helped in that respect.
Quebec's high-scoring Michel Goulet didn't get a goal in the series. Peter Stastny, battling tonsillitis and the choke hold of the Whalers defense, didn't get a goal.
The Whalers outscored the Nordiques, 16-7, in the three games. Can there be an argument?
"It's a great feeling. We did it," Evans said. "The boys played some great hockey tonight. Anderson had a great game. Joel Quenneville on defense. Dave Tippett had an outstanding game. Just a great effort. I'm delighted. I never dreamed we'd sweep them three straight."
"The thing that had bothered us all year was trying to shut down Goulet and the two Stastnys. They had scored half their goals against us. We had great goaltending from Mike Liut in the first game. We got goals from [Paul] MacDermid, people we weren't really expecting from. Tonight we just got rolling."
From The Courant Archives: April 13, 1986
Nord-eeeeks! Whalers Sweep Series; Canadiens Are Next
One of the happiest nights in Hartford Whalers' history. The Courant's Jeff Jacobs filed this report as a sweep of the Quebec Nordiques in the Adams Division semifinals was complete.
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
The Baltimore Sun encourages civil dialogue related to our stories; you must register and log-in to our site in order to participate. We reserve the right to remove any user and to delete comments that violate our Terms of Service. By commenting, you agree to these terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.