Game 461 – Canadiens 7, Maple Leafs 3

Game 461
Canadiens 7, Maple Leafs 3
Wednesday, December 18, 1963
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

The Montréal Canadiens assumed the role of the flying Frenchmen against the Toronto Maple Leafs for the first time in more than two seasons last night and destroyed the mediocre Leafs 7-3 at the Forum.

Jean Béliveau was the architect of a victory which moved the Canadiens into second place in the National Hockey League, two points ahead of Toronto.

The big centre, who is off to an exceptional start, scored twice, his 13th and 14th goals, and extended his career total to 324, tying him with Nels Stewart as the top scorer among NHL centres. He also has 28 assists in 29 games.

Béliveau is tied with Stan Mikita of the Chicago Black Hawks for the points leadership, each with 42.

Henri Richard, who has been in a prolonged scoring slump, emerged with two goals, both in the final period after the Leafs, for the second time in the game, had closed to within one goal. He also had an assist.

Gilles Tremblay scored once and earned three assists. Bernie Geoffrion got a goal and two assists, J.C. Tremblay a goal and one assist. Bobby Rousseau and Jean-Guy Talbot each had two assists.

The Béliveau-Geoffrion-Gilles Tremblay line scored four goals, 10 points.

Jim Pappin, George Armstrong – his 13th – and Frank Mahovlich scored for the Leafs, who were outshot 41-19.

The Canadiens power play, able to produce only one goal in 31 tries against the Leafs in five previous games, gave Montréal a 2-0 lead within 12 minutes of the opening faceoff. Although the Leafs twice moved within one goal deficits, they were never a threat to tie or win.

The difference between one-sided defeat and complete annihilation was the play of goalie Johnny Bower in the first half of the second period, most of which the Leafs spent behind their own blueline attempting to find the puck. The nearest Canadien usually had it. Bower made 14 stops in the period, Charlie Hodge four.

The Canadiens were skating all the time. They forechecked constantly. Their lone shortcoming was one which has bugged them all season, a lack of authoritative body checking. But last night it didn’t matter against the pacifist Leafs.

Coach Punch Imlach’s decision not to tamper with his lines in a bid to get Mahovlich untracked looked like a good move when Pappin, Red Kelly and Ed Shack combined for the Leafs’ first goal.

But by the third period the Leaf coach must have been second guessing himself. The line was on for three consecutive Montréal tallies. For several shifts in the third period, Imlach benched Pappin and Shack, employing Kelly at left wing with Billy Harris and Ron Stewart.

Despite generally inept defensive play, Imlach did not use Kent Douglas except on power plays. Carl Brewer was not in the lineup.

The Canadiens were without regular wingers John Ferguson and Billy Hicke, and rookie defenceman Jacques Laperrière.

Montréal opened the scoring at 7:58 of the first period while the Leafs’ Bob Baun served his second penalty of the period. An earlier Montréal goal, by Claude Provost, had been disallowed, referee John Ashley ruling he kicked it into the net.

Bower, screened by Allan Stanley, had no chance on Béliveau’s shot fired from just inside the Leafs blueline.

Gilles Tremblay made it 2-0, tipping Geoffrion’s shot from the point. Bower made the stop, but the puck slithered over the goal line.

Two Leafs blocked Bower’s vision on J.C. Tremblay’s goal to make it 3-1 late in the second period and before that period ended. Geoffrion had converted Béliveau’s pass which drew Bower out of position.

The Leafs were within one goal following scores by Armstrong and Mahovlich, but for only 31 seconds before Richard flipped Talbot’s rebound into an open side. Richard almost scored again within seconds and did beat Bower six minutes later.

Béliveau completed the rout at 15:54, firing a 25-footer into the bottom corner to tie Stewart’s record.

Attendance was 13,074, the largest crowd for a midweek televised game here this season, but still below the Forum seating capacity of 13,708. Two previous Leaf games here attracted fewer than 13,000 each.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, December 19, 1963

1st Period

TOR PEN – 02:34 – Baun, charging
TOR PEN – 06:25 – Baun, interference
MTL PP GOAL – 07:58 – Béliveau (Richard, G. Tremblay)
TOR PEN – 11:26 – Horton, hooking
MTL PP GOAL – 11:55 – G. Tremblay (Geoffrion, Talbot)
TOR GOAL – 13:23 – Pappin (Shack, Kelly)

MTL PEN – 17:13 – Geoffrion, tripping
MTL PEN – 18:38 – Watson, interference

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 05:53 – Keon, hooking
MTL PEN – 08:37 – J. Tremblay, holding
TOR PEN – 10:55 – Mahovlich, holding
MTL GOAL – 14:00 – J. Tremblay (Backstrom, Balon)
MTL GOAL – 18:04 – Geoffrion (Béliveau, G. Tremblay)
TOR GOAL – 19:35 – Armstrong (Keon)

3rd Period
TOR GOAL – 01:54 – Mahovlich (Pulford)
MTL GOAL – 02:45 – Richard (Rousseau, Talbot)
MTL GOAL – 08:17 – Richard (Rousseau, J. Tremblay)
MTL GOAL – 15:54 – Béliveau (Geoffrion, G. Tremblay)

MTL – Hodge (W, 16-19)
TOR – Bower (L, 34-41)

MTL – 13+16+12 = 41
TOR – 8+5+6 = 19

MTLGoaltenders: Charlie Hodge. Defence: Terry Harper, Marc Réaume, Jean-Guy Talbot, J.C. Tremblay, Bryan Watson. Forwards: Ralph Backstrom, Dave Balon, Jean Béliveau (C), Red Berenson, Bernie Geoffrion, Claude Larose, Claude Provost, Henri Richard, Bobby Rousseau, Gilles Tremblay.
TORGoaltenders: Johnny Bower. Defence: Bobby Baun, Kent Douglas, Larry Hillman, Tim Horton, Red Kelly, Allan Stanley. Forwards: George Armstrong (C), Dick Duff, Billy Harris, Dave Keon, Frank Mahovlich, Bob Nevin, Jim Pappin, Bob Pulford, Eddie Shack, Ron Stewart.

MTL – 15-9-5 (.603)
TOR – 14-9-5 (.589)