Playoff Game 41 – Canadiens 2, Maple Leafs 0

Playoff Game 41
Canadiens 2, Maple Leafs 0
Stanley Cup Semifinals, Game 1
Thursday, March 26, 1964
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

The Montréal Canadiens powered past the Toronto Maple Leafs last night for a 2-0 victory in the opening game of their Stanley Cup best-of-seven semifinal series.

The league champions outskated and outhit the Leafs from beginning to end, as they dominated the action for most of a game in which playoff penalty records were broken and tied.

Goals by Bernie Geoffrion and Ralph Backstrom were backed by a sparkling performance by goalie Charlie Hodge, who stopped everything the Leafs moved through what appeared to be layers of Montréal defenders.

The two teams accumulated 31 penalties between them, breaking the playoff record of 29 set by the Leafs and Detroit Red Wings in Detroit, March 25, 1952.

The Canadiens, with 16 penalties, tied a playoff mark held by three clubs: Boston, New York and Toronto.

The Canadiens were more aggressive and more poised than the Leafs, particularly over the first two periods when they had a 26-11 edge on shots. They showed their expected speed from the start, but they surprised, and perhaps upset the Leafs, by coming out hitting at every opportunity.

Referee Frank Udvari ruled with a frantic thumb that clearly established who was boss. But the game suffered badly.

As it turned out, Udvari loaded the penalty box with so many culprits in the early minutes, that the opening goal by Geoffrion was scored while the Leafs were a man short when they should not have been. The opinion was according to mathematicians who worked during the entire first period intermission to get the answer.

The penalty timekeeper, who neglected to tell Dave Keon his time had expired 20 seconds before the goal, didn’t have that kind of time.

Ironically, Jean-Guy Talbot, who vacated the penalty box when Keon should have done so, engineered the goal with a shot from the left point. Claude Provost, an outstanding Hab on the night’s play, got the puck to one side of the net. While Johnny Bower was covering him, he slipped it across to an unattended Geoffrion, who had half an open net.

The game was delayed for a considerable time while Udvari tried to sort out the penalty mess to see whether Talbot had emerged sooner than he should have. When he found Keon had merely emerged later, he allowed the goal to stand.

King Clancy, who travelled around the rink to investigate, was escorted back to his seat by a policeman while the crowd of 13,934 snarled disapproval.

The Leafs deserved defeat. They didn’t skate well, generally their passes were poorly timed and they lacked the hustle the Canadiens exploited with their diligent pursuit of the puck.

The game quickly degenerated into chippiness, but never reached total warfare as Udvari hustled the hotheads into the cooler.

The Leafs, who had predicted Wednesday that Udvari would give them a penalty in the first minute of play, missed by six seconds. At 1:06, Frank Mahovlich drew a slashing penalty.

A flare-up at 2:20 produced two penalties to each team, and 19 seconds later Keon and Talbot drew minors. Talbot was trying to restrain Keon from leaving the Montréal zone and as Dave broke away, Talbot fell. Udvari gave Talbot an interference penalty and Keon a tripping sentence.

From his seat in the penalty box, Mahovlich offered his own interpretation for Udvari’s benefit and the referee added a 10 minute misconduct to his term, for further meditation.

Bryan Watson served a bench penalty for too many men on the ice as the Canadiens were slow on a substitution, and Provost was given an illegal faceoff sentence for having broken into the faceoff circle to spoil two successive faceoffs. The Leafs had a two man advantage for 57 seconds, but couldn’t convert this into material gain.

The Leafs were at their bewildered worst when Backstrom made it 2-0 in the second period. The teams were at full strength when the Canadiens turned on the heat. For several seconds Toronto players appeared to do little except pivot in amazement as the hurtling homesters shot, recovered, passed and controlled the puck until Backstrom finally jammed the puck behind Bower.

Bower, who appeared jittery on a couple of shots, made some magnificent saves and was fortunate also that some Montréal blasts whizzed past the corners. Hodge made two of his finest saves at the expense of Bob Pulford and George Armstrong within minutes, early in the second period.

Pulford was the outstanding Leaf, and Andy Bathgate played his most aggressive game since joining the team. He handed out some good jolts and almost wound up in two fights.

The Canadiens didn’t display a weakness. They honed in on every stray puck and beat the Leafs to it.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, March 27, 1964

1st Period

TOR PEN – 01:06 – Mahovlich, slashing
MTL PEN – 02:20 – Béliveau, charging
TOR PEN – 02:20 – Baun, high sticking
MTL PEN – 02:20 – Ferguson, high sticking
TOR PEN – 03:06 – Keon, tripping
TOR PEN – 03:06 – Mahovlich, misconduct
TOR PEN – 03:06 – Pulford, high sticking
MTL PEN – 04:20 – Talbot, interference
TOR PEN – 04:53 – Bathgate, fighting major
MTL PEN – 04:53 – J. Tremblay, fighting major
MTL GOAL – 06:53 – Geoffrion (Provost, Talbot)
MTL PEN – 07:33 – Harper, hooking
MTL PEN – 09:53 – Talbot, boarding
TOR PEN – 13:09 – Shack, holding / roughing double minor
MTL PEN – 13:09 – Ferguson, charging / roughing double minor

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 01:00 – Stanley, hooking
MTL PEN – 04:56 – Backstrom, hooking
MTL GOAL – 09:32 – Backstrom (Provost, Balon)
MTL PEN – 11:50 – Provost, hooking
TOR PEN – 15:25 – Shack, hooking
MTL PEN – 15:25 – Geoffrion, high sticking
TOR PEN – 16:32 – Bathgate, high sticking

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 00:35 – Baun, tripping
MTL PEN – 00:38 – Béliveau, tripping
MTL PEN – 01:36 – Ferguson, holding
TOR PEN – 02:43 – Pulford, slashing
TOR PEN – 07:38 – Brewer, tripping
MTL PEN – 09:25 – team, too many men on the ice
TOR PEN – 13:37 – Brewer, elbowing
MTL PEN – 14:54 – Laperrière, holding
MTL PEN – 14:56 – Provost, faceoff violation

MTL – Hodge (W + SO, 25-25)
TOR – Bower (L, 32-34)

MTLGoaltenders: Charlie Hodge. Defence: Terry Harper, Jacques Laperrière, Jim Roberts, Jean-Guy Talbot, J.C. Tremblay, Bryan Watson. Forwards: Ralph Backstrom, Dave Balon, Jean Béliveau (C), Red Berenson, John Ferguson, Bernie Geoffrion, Bill Hicke, Claude Provost, Henri Richard, Bobby Rousseau, Gilles Tremblay.
TORGoaltenders: Johnny Bower. Defence: Bobby Baun, Carl Brewer, Larry Hillman, Tim Horton, Red Kelly, Allan Stanley. Forwards: George Armstrong (C), Andy Bathgate, Billy Harris, Dave Keon, Frank Mahovlich, Don McKenney, Jim Pappin, Bob Pulford, Eddie Shack, Ron Stewart.