Game 483 – Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 2

Game 483
Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 2
Wednesday, March 24, 1965
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Johnny Bower stopped Montréal Canadiens’ rookie Yvan Cournoyer on a third period penalty shot last night to preserve a 3-2 victory for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The save also pushed the Canadiens one game away from elimination in the National Hockey League pennant race.

The Detroit Red Wings, two points up on the Habs, can clinch the title by winning only one of their last three games, tonight against New York, Saturday and Sunday against Toronto. Any tie in points would be broken in the Wings’ favour as they have more victories.

The penalty shot was called with the Leafs a man short and leading 3-2. The puck was loose in the Leaf goal crease and defenceman Carl Brewer grabbed it. Cournoyer, a 20-year-old freshman with only seven goals to his credit, was named by coach Toe Blake.

When Bower came 10 feet out of the net to close off the youngster’s shooting angle, Cournoyer made no attempt to go around the goalie, rather shooting the puck into his pads.

Bower’s heroics throughout and a late spark ignited by Frank Mahovlich’s brilliant scoring play to tie the score 2-2 saved one of the dullest attractions of a season in which there have been many more clinkers than classics.

Only 27 seconds after “The Big M”‘s masterpiece, Ron Ellis knocked the winning goal in off defenceman J.C. Tremblay’s skates. Ellis scored his 22nd goal of the season on what appeared to be merely a pass into the goalmouth.

Bobby Rousseau and Ralph Backstrom had given the Habs the lead twice in the second period. Kent Douglas’ long drop shot off a Leaf power play tied the score 1-1.

The Leafs’ comeback refuted an old hockey adage you must go 60 minutes to win. For the first 40 of this one they were outskated and outplayed, although not outmuscled, by a Montréal team which has a $1,000 a man in bonus money at stake. This is the difference between first and second place.

Players on both teams were handicapped by a flaky ice surface caused by a special light blue paint job necessary for a colour television experiment. The ice chipped easily and the puck bounced crazily to disrupt many pass patterns.

The Leafs started with a four line rotation, but dropped it quickly in favour of their playoff rotation, which includes a checking unit composed of Red Kelly, Bob Pulford and Tim Horton.

Kelly, whose parliamentary business kept him from practicing this week, let John Ferguson escape behind the Leaf net to provide the pass for Backstrom’s 25th goal.

Although their offence wasn’t much until the last period, the Leafs’ overall defensive department was fairly good. Bobby Baun was its most physical and most prominent member.

Bower’s save on Cournoyer got Carl Brewer off the hook. Brewer was in the penalty box when Rousseau slapped his 12th goal from the point and Brewer grabbed a loose puck in the goal crease to provide the Habs with the penalty shot.

Three minutes after Rousseau scored, Douglas took advantage of a power play, with Terry Harper off, to baffle Charlie Hodge with a weird mashie shot which seemed to drop at least two feet in flight, and hit the corner of the net.

Mahovlich, who had been in low gear with most Leaf forwards for two periods, suddenly broke away with Pete Stemkowski’s pass and held Harper at bay with one hand while swerving in from his wrong wing. Hodge didn’t have a chance and “The Big M” earned an ovation from a gallery of 14,331.

The Leafs continued to press. When Stemkowski won a faceoff draw in the Canadiens zone, he threw the puck to Ellis. As the Leaf rookie passed, Tremblay turned to try to intercept, and instead steered the puck in off his skates.

The Canadiens fought desperately in the final minutes, but a penalty to Jean Béliveau killed their hopes and they were unable to get Hodge out of the net for a sixth attacker.

NOTES: Eddie Shack and Ron Stewart appeared infrequently after the first period and Andy Bathgate worked only two shifts other than power plays…Richard had a chance at the puck which Brewer grabbed in the crease, but Horton dived through to pin him to the ice…Cournoyer forced Bower to two of his better saves in the middle period and also blocked two screened drives within seconds shortly after…The Canadiens played without Dave Balon…It may be too late to help, if the Wings win tonight, but Boston plans to play Ed Johnston in goal in Montréal Saturday. He could be rusty, having missed 21 games because of a broken hand.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, March 25, 1965

1st Period

MTL PEN – 04:22 – Laperrière, hooking
MTL PEN – 15:01 – Ferguson, hooking
TOR PEN – 15:44 – Kelly, tripping
MTL PEN – 17:26 – Richard, hooking

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 03:13 – Brewer, roughing
MTL PP GOAL – 03:31 – Rousseau (Laperrière)
MTL PEN – 05:37 – Laperrière, slashing
TOR PEN – 05:59 – Keon, high sticking
MTL PEN – 05:59 – Harper, high sticking
TOR PP GOAL – 06:10 – Douglas (Bathgate, Mahovlich)
TOR PEN – 06:56 – Baun, holding
MTL GOAL – 16:35 – Backstrom (Ferguson)

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 03:06 – Ferguson, roughing
TOR PEN – 05:15 – Horton, holding
TOR GOAL – 07:44 – Mahovlich (Stemkowski)
TOR GOAL – 08:11 – Ellis (Stemkowski)

TOR PEN – 13:12 – Douglas, charging
MTL PEN SHOT – Cournoyer stopped
MTL PEN – 19:00 – Béliveau, high sticking

TOR – Bower (W, 22-24)
MTL – Hodge (L, 23-26)

TOR – 8+7+11 = 26
MTL – 6+10+8 = 24

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

TOR – 29-25-14 (.529)
MTL – 35-22-11 (.596)