Playoff Game 37 – Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 2

Playoff Game 37
Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 2
Stanley Cup Semifinals, Game 2
Thursday, March 28, 1963
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

A combination of masterful puck manipulation by the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Dave Keon, and an unsuccessful gamble by Montréal Canadiens goalie Jacques Plante, added up to the Leafs’ 3-2 victory in the second game of the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup semifinal series in Maple Leaf Gardens last night.

The Leafs last the best of seven series 2-0 and are in commanding position heading into the third game in Montréal tomorrow night.

The Blue Dart, Keon, plus two venerable veterans, 37-year-old Allan Stanley and goalie Johnny Bower, made the 3-2 lead achieved on Keon’s goal stand up for 23 minutes and 25 seconds, in which the Canadiens applied their most sustained pressure of the series. And it had been Stanley who shot the Leafs into the first lead 2-1 early in the second period.

The Leafs did not contribute one of their most impressive efforts. In the majority of instances, all-out play was sporadic, and indeed they were fortunate to come out with their second victory.

The Canadiens, a far better hockey team than in their lackadaisical, losing production on Tuesday, outplayed the Leafs much of the time and served notice to 14,007 spectators, and the Leafs, that they are certainly not through yet.

If the Canadiens lost the game on any one play or series of plays, it was in their failure to take advantage of a six-four manpower advantage they held for a minute and 47 seconds midway through the match.

Keon, Bob Baun and Carl Brewer played their positions so solidly that five Montréal attackers were able to get only three shots on Bower. And the goalie was equal to the challenge of a blistering shot from Henri Richard, and the angled rebound from Jean Béliveau. He also maintained his composure to clear the puck after being jolted by a jarring check from Bernie Geoffrion.

Keon’s goal came at 16:35 of the middle period. The little centre was dashing down left wing, accompanied by defenceman Terry Harper of the Canadiens, and skating at a precarious angle.

He managed to fend off Harper with one hand and control the puck with his stick held in the other until he reached the goal line. Plante, deciding that Harper wasn’t going to be able to take Keon completely out of the play, elected to reach forward and try to poke check the puck away from the Leaf forward.

He missed. And it only remained for Keon to steer, rather than shoot the puck, between the falling goalie’s skates and the post.

The goal produced the Leafs’ second lead of the game, and was particularly disastrous for Canadiens’ rookie defenceman Harper. He had scored a perfect goal to tie the game at 2-2, and with another freshman, Jacques Laperrière, was responsible for a vastly improved defensive performance by the Canadiens.

Despite his failure to check Keon successfully, he was named the Canadiens player of the game.

Montréal lost at least some scoring opportunities in the final period through an apparent over-anxiety to get rid of the puck. As a result, many shots aimed in Bower’s general direction struck other Leafs.

Those that penetrated were handled flawlessly by Bower, or by defenceman Stanley who at times performed acrobatics normally reserved for goalkeepers, and youthful ones at that.

Stanley’s goal came on a deflection off Jean Gauthier’s stick, and the puck was in the net before Plante had refocused on it. Stanley got the pass from Bob Pulford and shot from about 20 feet, directly in front of Plante.

George Armstrong had scored Toronto’s first goal, 47 seconds after Béliveau put the Canadiens up 1-0.

Some errant puck handling led to the goals which provided the first period 1-1 tie.

Baun was trying to field a pass from Brewer when the puck took a weird bounce over his stick to Béliveau. The big 6″3 centre shot a blazing 10-footer on, which Bower had no chance to make a move.

Armstrong intercepted a pass from Donnie Marshall for a short shot which Plante stopped, only to have the puck roll up his pad and over into the net.

The Canadiens’ attempt to get back in the series in the favourable surroundings of the Forum may have to be made without left winger Gilles Tremblay.

Tremblay, who shot 25 goals during the regular season, was accidentally clipped on the cheekbone by Bob Pulford’s stick, and it was feared he had suffered his second fracture of the season.

NOTES: Punch Imlach benched Frank Mahovlich in the final period. He refused to criticize Mahovlich’s play, but said “I had a one goal lead. I had to play my best.”…Toe Blake, satisfied now that the Canadiens are getting back in proper form, suggested the Habs will be back in the series after the games in Montréal. Ralph Backstrom, with Bill Hicke and Bobby Rousseau, one of the more prominent Hab forwards, snapped “watch our smoke now.”

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, March 29, 1963

1st Period

TOR PEN – 02:45 – Mahovlich, high sticking
MTL GOAL – 06:07 – Béliveau
TOR GOAL – 06:54 – Armstrong
MTL PEN – 14:54 – Gauthier, elbowing

2nd Period
MTL PEN – 00:16 – Backstrom, boarding
TOR GOAL – 03:15 – Stanley (Pulford)
MTL GOAL – 06:14 – Harper (Richard)

MTL PEN – 09:03 – Gauthier, interference
TOR PEN – 11:32 – Pulford, hooking
TOR PEN – 11:45 – Horton, interference
TOR GOAL – 16:35 – Keon (Armstrong, Stanley)
MTL PEN – 18:22 – Talbot, charging
TOR PEN – 19:29 – Kelly, tripping

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 07:34 – Kelly, hooking
MTL PEN – 12:14 – Gauthier, holding

TOR – Bower (W, 29-31)
MTL – Plante (L, 24-27)

TOR – 10+8+9 = 27
MTL – 8+13+10 = 31

TORGoaltenders: Johnny Bower. Defence: Bobby Baun, Carl Brewer, Kent Douglas, Tim Horton, Red Kelly, Allan Stanley. Forwards: George Armstrong (C), Dick Duff, Billy Harris, Dave Keon, Ed Litzenberger, Frank Mahovlich, Bob Nevin, Bob Pulford, Eddie Shack, Ron Stewart.
MTLGoaltenders: Jacques Plante. Defence: Jean Gauthier, Terry Harper, Jacques Laperrière, Jean-Guy Talbot, J.C. Tremblay. Forwards: Ralph Backstrom, Jean Béliveau (C), Red Berenson, Bernie Geoffrion, Bill Hicke, Don Marshall, Dickie Moore, Claude Provost, Henri Richard, Bobby Rousseau, Gilles Tremblay.