Playoff Game 39 – Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 1

Playoff Game 39
Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 1
Stanley Cup Semifinals, Game 4
Tuesday, April 2, 1963
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

The Montréal Canadiens emphatically ended their nine game winless skein against the Toronto Maple Leafs last night, out-checking, out-skating and out-hustling the Leafs for the 3-1 victory which prolonged the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup semifinal series.

The Leafs lead the best-of-seven semifinal 3-1. The fifth game will be played in Toronto tomorrow night and the sixth, if required, at the Forum on Saturday.

Gilles Tremblay shot the goals which clinched the Canadiens win. Henri Richard had tied the score 1-1 early in the second period after Ron Stewart had given the Leafs the lead with their only goal in the first period.

The Canadiens’ official margin was two goals – scored by their hitherto powerless power play while the Leafs’ George Armstrong and Frank Mahovlich were serving unnecessary, but deserved penalties. The Leafs put one goal in their own net.

But the Canadiens’ edge in this game was really much more pronounced. They outshot the Leafs 40-25 and only some exceptionally agile and alert puck stopping by Johnny Bower kept the score close.

In the first period alone, Bower stopped Claude Provost three times from close range. Richard, Jean Béliveau and Bobby Rousseau had other excellent chances. Despite them, the Leafs led 1-0 at the intermission.

Many of the 14,094 fans in the Forum had all but written off the Canadiens for the season after that. The Habs had outplayed the Leafs as they had occasionally in periods earlier in the series, but they were not leading the game, and few expected they could sustain their pace, maintain their relentless forechecking which frequently resembled the Leafs’ performance of other games.

Coach Toe Blake changed his lines much more frequently than in the first three games of the series, and the extra rest made it possible for the Habs to keep ahead of the Leafs.

Provost, Richard, defenceman Terry Harper, Rousseau and Béliveau were the most prominent Canadiens. And it was the Richard-Provost-Dickie Moore line which gave Bower his most nerve-wrecking moments. They fired 17 shots at the Toronto goalie, Richard getting seven and Provost six.

The Canadiens started the third period leading 2-1, but seemingly showing some signs of fatigue. They were brought back to life by Tremblay’s second goal, scored just four seconds after Mahovlich was penalized for cross checking Terry Harper.

“The Big M,” who started this game well but quickly reverted to the ineffectiveness which has plagued him this playoff, was getting even with Harper for being bounced into the boards behind the Montréal goal. Mahovlich didn’t have a shot on goal.

Béliveau got the faceoff draw from Bob Pulford. The Leafs’ Allan Stanley, obviously tired from six games in 11 days, intercepted the puck, but his wild pass in turn was intercepted by Tremblay, who beat Bower handily.

That rejuvenated the Canadiens, and they continued to outskate the Leafs for the duration. Coach George Imlach yanked Bower with 1:22 remaining, but the Leafs had only two good shots at Jacques Plante, and Montréal almost added a fourth goal twice.

The Leafs, who hadn’t lost a game which meant anything in 13 starts (they lost twice to Detroit after clinching first place) and had a near phenomenal record against the Canadiens, were due for an off evening.

The Canadiens were winning only their fourth of 18 games against the Leafs this season, their first since January 17, and only their second in 16 games.

Skating under comparatively little pressure since they still require a minor miracle to reach the finals, the Canadiens’ determined aggressiveness exaggerated the Leafs’ shortcomings.

Blake juggled personnel, used Bernie Geoffrion on about half his normal shifts, and gave regular assignments to Bill Sutherland, the minor leaguer from Québec.

The Leafs got their lead at 6:12 of the first period. Brewer flipped the puck from behind the Montréal net, and Red Kelly and Mahovlich had whacks at it before Stewart beat Plante.

The first 17 minutes of the second period was all Montréal and it took Richard only 28 seconds to tie the score. Provost cruised in on Bower but the Toronto goalie sprawled to block the shot. The Leafs defence, badly out of position, failed to clear. Richard had time to circle in the corner, move on goal, then golf a backhander into the unguarded net before any Leaf appeared.

The Canadiens scored the goal which produced their second lead of the series at the 14 minute mark. Gilles Tremblay took a pass from Geoffrion and eventually shook off Bob Baun nearing the goal line. Tremblay tried to sweep a pass in front of Bower. Instead, the puck caught Brewer’s stick and went in.

This came 14 seconds after Armstrong was caught hauling down a Canadien who had beaten him along the boards.

The Canadiens scored a fourth goal on a brilliant individual effort by Béliveau, who beat three Leafs, circled the Toronto goal, and shot a backhander which Bower blocked. Bill Hicke whacked Bower’s pads and the puck squirted in, but referee Frank Udvari ruled he had stopped play on Bower’s save.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, April 3, 1963

1st Period

TOR GOAL – 06:12 – Stewart (Kelly, Mahovlich)
TOR PEN – 06:36 – Stanley, tripping
MTL PEN – 12:55 – Gauthier, holding

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 00:26 – Richard (Moore, Provost)
MTL PEN – 01:32 – Gauthier, high sticking
TOR PEN – 09:44 – Horton, interference
MTL PEN – 11:11 – Moore, hooking
TOR PEN – 13:46 – Armstrong, tripping
MTL PP GOAL – 14:00 – G. Tremblay (Geoffrion)

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 05:25 – Mahovlich, cross checking
MTL PP GOAL – 05:29 – G. Tremblay (Béliveau, Rousseau)
MTL PEN – 07:56 – Talbot, holding
TOR PEN – 09:36 – Armstrong, hooking

MTL – Plante (W, 23-24)
TOR – Bower (L, 37-40)

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, Bill Sutherland, Gilles Tremblay.
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, Frank Mahovlich, Bob Nevin, Bob Pulford, Eddie Shack, Ron Stewart.