Game 474 – Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 2

Game 474
Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 2
Wednesday, December 9, 1964
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

The seventh goal this season against the Toronto Maple Leafs’ power play last night provided the Montréal Canadiens with a 3-2 victory and second place in the National Hockey League.

The Canadiens, who hold a game in hand on the Leafs, have three wins and a tie in five games against them, and trail the leading Detroit Red Wings by one point. The Leafs are third, two points behind Montréal.

Gilles Tremblay stole the puck from Kent Douglas and lashed a breakaway goal under Terry Sawchuk at 7:50 of the second period, 23 seconds after Montréal’s Dave Balon had gone to the penalty box.

Claude Provost and Balon, wingers for Henri Richard on the Canadiens’ strongest line of this game, had given Montréal a 2-0 lead in the first period. Richard set up both goals.

Ron Stewart, the Leafs’ top player, and Don McKenney, aided by Stewart, scored against netminder Charlie Hodge, who was outstanding. It was McKenney’s first goal in a dozen games.

Frank Mahovlich returned to the Leaf lineup and played about 90 percent of normal ice time with various partners.

He received fairly solid support from a gallery of 14,176, but appeared to tire quickly, as might be expected of someone who spent all but four days of the last month in hospital.

“The Big M” made his presence felt with a couple of resounding body checks to flatten Terry Harper and Provost, and force Hodge to an alert stop with an accurate deflection of Douglas’ shot from the point.

While Tremblay’s goal was the decisive one, the Leafs actually lost the game in the first period when the absence of the resolute centre, Bob Pulford, was particularly noticeable.

They permitted the Canadiens to bring play to them, were careless in the centre ice area and were badly beaten defensively on the goals by Provost and Balon. In addition, Sawchuk was not as sharp as he has been on many other occasions this fall.

When the Leafs had the puck they passed it too late or too often. For much of the first 30 minutes it seemed as if they were trying to give the puck to the Canadiens’ brilliant young defenceman Jacques Laperrière. No matter where the Leafs were, he wound up breaking up their play.

The Leafs gained momentum as the game progressed and played strongly in the last period. By then, however, it was too late and Hodge was entirely too much.

The wraith-like Hodge, who never has a bad game against the Leafs, made his biggest saves against Jim Pappin in the first period, off Ron Ellis’ point blank slap shot and “The Big M” in the second, and Ellis, Andy Bathgate and Stewart in the third. He made his luckiest stop when he caught a crazily bouncing puck flipped by Bathgate with less than two minutes to go.

Hodge also survived a crashing butt end by Eddie Shack with the lively Leaf somehow escaping a penalty.

The Canadiens came up with a strong defensive effort in the final 90 seconds when Sawchuk was benched for a sixth attacker. The Leafs did not get a direct shot on goal.

Shack let Provost escape along the boards and Montréal’s top scorer got in position to accept Richard’s passout for the opening goal. Unchecked, he scored on a 10-foot backhand shot. Richard again provided the puck for Balon, with the left winger shifting around Bobby Baun and scoring to the short side. Carl Brewer lost the puck to Ted Harris to start the play.

Four minutes later, Baun and Brewer combined in a centre ice passing act. Baun’s pass put Stewart in alone and he flicked in a backhand shot for his eighth goal.

Stewart took Brewer’s pass and carried down the right wing. But his rush carried him past the goal and he threw a pass into the goalmouth, which McKenney converted to make the last six minutes of play the most exciting of an otherwise unspectacular game.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, December 10, 1964

1st Period

MTL GOAL – 04:54 – Provost (Richard, Balon)
TOR PEN – 06:24 – Ellis, holding
MTL GOAL – 11:04 – Balon (Richard, Harris)
TOR GOAL – 15:30 – Stewart (Baun, Brewer)

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 04:38 – Brewer, slashing
MTL PEN – 04:38 – Backstrom, slashing
MTL PEN – 07:27 – Balon, hooking
MTL SH GOAL – 07:50 – G. Tremblay
MTL PEN – 11:33 – Harris, hooking
MTL PEN – 14:36 – Harper, hooking
TOR PEN – 17:58 – Stanley, holding
TOR PEN – 19:05 – Baun, interference

3rd Period
TOR GOAL – 13:45 – McKenney (Stewart, Brewer)

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

MTL – 11+8+6 = 25
TOR – 10+9+8 = 27

MTLGoaltenders: Charlie Hodge. Defence: Terry Harper, Ted Harris, Jacques Laperrière, Jim Roberts, Jean-Guy Talbot, J.C. Tremblay. Forwards: Ralph Backstrom, Dave Balon, Jean Béliveau (C), Yvan Cournoyer, John Ferguson, Claude Larose, Claude Provost, Henri Richard, Bobby Rousseau, Gilles Tremblay.
TORGoaltenders: Terry Sawchuk. Defence: Bobby Baun, Carl Brewer, Kent Douglas, Tim Horton, Red Kelly, Allan Stanley. Forwards: George Armstrong (C), Andy Bathgate, Ron Ellis, Billy Harris, Dave Keon, Frank Mahovlich, Don McKenney, Jim Pappin, Eddie Shack, Ron Stewart.

MTL – 11-7-5 (.587)
TOR – 10-9-5 (.521)