Playoff Game 42 – Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 1

Playoff Game 42
Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 1
Stanley Cup Semifinals, Game 2
Saturday, March 28, 1964
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

Frank Mahovlich was “The Big M” again Saturday night.

He gave the Toronto Maple Leafs the inspirational leadership they needed to defeat the Montréal Canadiens 2-1, to even their Stanley Cup best-of-seven semifinal series at one game each.

He set up the first Toronto goal and scored the second. And he dominated play so forcefully for the remainder of the game that the Canadiens, despite a last-minute flurry, were flattered by the close score.

Red Kelly and Mahovlich scored the Toronto goals. Jean Béliveau whipped a second period screened shot past Johnny Bower for the Montréal score.

The Canadiens, who surprised the Leafs in the series opener with a hitting attack based on Toronto’s patent, were in turn unbalanced when the Leafs turned on the speed Saturday to offset a supposed Montréal advantage.

The game was played at a tremendously fast, hard clip. The Canadiens lacked the almost fanatical frenzy that marked their drive to victory in the opener, but the Leafs played with a mature poise that carried the night despite accepting eight of the 13 penalties.

Referee Art Skov ruled with a parental vigilance, permitting borderline escapades, but nailing enough offenders to keep the game under control. He handed the Canadiens the first penalty nand the last two. In between, the Leafs drew eight of 10.

This imbalance on the penalty sheet produced two defensive heroes. Ron Stewart and Bob Pulford teamed in penalty killing chores that disrupted Montréal’s attacking plans so effectively the crowd of 14,755 rained a volley of boos down on the National Hockey League champions.

On two Toronto penalties, to Brewer in the first period and to Shack in the second period, the Canadiens couldn’t manage a shot on Bower.

Eventually, the weight of pressure told, Béliveau scored his goal on a power play. Eddie Shack had drawn a penalty for elbowing rugged John Ferguson at 10:45. For two minutes, Stewart and Pulford particularly, kept the Canadiens from getting a shot on Bower.

About four and a half minutes later, Shack rode Bernie Geoffrion into the boards and didn’t merit the penalty he received. Almost immediately, the Canadiens capitalized.

Béliveau had the puck, was maneuvering around to see a teammate in the clear. He couldn’t find one uncovered, so he quickly snapped a shot that whizzed hip-high past Bower, whose view was obstructed by players grouped in front of his crease.

The teams were at full strength on Toronto’s first period goals. Kelly, who was only a shade behind Mahovlich as the outstanding offensive performer, scored on a shot from 30 feet out, that zipped knee-high between Hodge’s pads.

Mahovlich was the story behind that goal, with an individual contribution that almost obscured the final thrust by Kelly.

The Leafs were attacking and Big M had been balked by Hodge on two shots when the Canadiens broke out. Mahovlich raced in relentless pursuit, recovered the puck in his own zone, stickhandled between two rivals on a wide sweep and was on his way. He outpaced Ralph Backstrom on a sheer battle of speed down left wing, crossed the Montréal line and slid a perfect pass across to linemate Kelly.

Kelly returned the favour a little more than three minutes later as the line returned to action. George Armstrong sent Kelly in for a shot that was blocked. Kelly kept digging for the puck, got it, and whipped it out to Mahovlich who fired a shot into the corner on Hodge’s stick side, a few inches off the ice.

“The Big M” and the Leafs dominated play so widely in the first 30 minutes, they could have had a 5-0 lead on the run of the play. While Bobby Rousseau was serving the game’s first penalty, Hodge hurled himself across the goalmouth to make an impossible save on the Toronto star.

Early in the second period Kelly made a great move, but his backhander whizzed past the post. Seconds later, Mahovlich banked a hard drive off the post to Hodge’s right. Armstrong also missed half an open net when he lost control of the puck on a close-in deflection.

Bower’s most testing moments came early and late. Jim Roberts and Dave Balon broke from a Toronto power play in the second minute of action, with only Andy Bathgate to defend. Bower had to make two good saves after Bathgate forced the play to come from the side.

In the last two minutes the Canadiens threw everything they had at the Leafs and twice Bower deserted his post to clear the loose puck out of danger.

Jacques Laperrière and Al Stanley dealt the two hardest checks. In the first period Mahovlich was swooping in from the left with Terry Harper hanging on. Laperrière lined up the Leaf and jolted him to the ice.

“It hurt,” acknowledged Mahovlich. “My neck felt stiff for the rest of the period.” But “The Big M” was roaring back a minute later.

Balon was Stanley’s victim halfway through the third period. The Leafs veteran caught him with perfect timing as the Habitant tried to sneak through on the boards.

Although the Leafs played well as a unit, six of them were outstanding: Mahovlich and Kelly on attack, Stewart and Pulford defensively, and Stanley and Tim Horton on defence. Stanley and Horton destroyed numerous Montréal thrusts before they had a chance to reach Bower.

Laperrière and Jean-Guy Talbot were best of the Montréal defenders, and Henri Richard, despite a painful elbow injury, was always dangerous.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, March 30, 1964

1st Period

MTL PEN – 01:05 – Rousseau, interference
TOR PEN – 05:15 – Brewer, high sticking
TOR GOAL – 08:50 – Kelly (Mahovlich)
TOR GOAL – 12:03 – Mahovlich (Kelly, Armstrong)
TOR PEN – 12:27 – Mahovlich, high sticking
MTL PEN – 12:27 – Provost, high sticking
TOR PEN – 13:27 – Baun, charging
MTL PEN – 14:17 – Béliveau, hooking
TOR PEN – 16:38 – Brewer, hooking

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 10:45 – Shack, elbowing
TOR PEN – 15:19 – Shack, boarding
MTL PP GOAL – 15:29 – Béliveau (Ferguson, Geoffrion)
TOR PEN – 17:41 – Brewer, interference

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 05:48 – Brewer, high sticking
MTL PEN – 05:48 – Ferguson, high sticking
MTL PEN – 13:21 – Backstrom, boarding

TOR – Bower (W, 22-23)
MTL – Hodge (L, 25-27)

TOR – 8+10+9 = 27
MTL – 7+12+4 = 23

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