Playoff Game 49 – Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 1

Playoff Game 49
Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 1
Stanley Cup Semifinals, Game 2
Saturday, April 3, 1965
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

Once again failure to produce a maximum effort in an important game has placed the Toronto Maple Leafs in jeopardy of abdicating their Stanley Cup reign.

It’s been a common story this season.

As a result of their apathetic 3-1 loss to the Montréal Canadiens before 14,380 at the Forum Saturday, the Leafs must win four of the five remaining games to avoid elimination in the semifinal round. The third and fourth games will be played in Toronto Tuesday and Thursday of this week.

Power play goals by Claude Provost and Jean Béliveau plus Henri Richard’s 80-foot bouncer provided the Canadiens with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Ron Ellis scored for the Leafs.

The Canadiens won the first game 3-2 here Thursday night.

Saturday’s comparatively non-violent clash was simply a story of the Canadiens skating all out, all evening. The Leafs did not.

At no time could the Leafs keep pace with the hungrier Habs, who haven’t been in a Cup final since Maurice Richard retired in 1960. While the Canadiens hustled constantly, checking in all zones and sustaining pressure on a beleaguered defence and harassed goalie Terry Sawchuk. Leaf forwards were doing none of these things.

They also failed to move the puck quickly enough and were guilty of too much procrastination before shooting on a shaky Charlie Hodge.

By comparison, the Canadiens attacked forcefully with the underrated, but reliable, defenceman Jean Claude Tremblay, their outstanding two-way performer.

Because of Sawchuk’s spectacular stand-in for Johnny Bower, the Leafs had a 1-1 tie to the 49th minute. To that point he had made 29 saves, a dozen or more most difficult. He gave the Leafs the opportunity to turn the outcome, despite their lethargy, by expending just a little extra effort.

This they were unwilling or unable to do, and when Richard’s weird shot eluded Sawchuk in the final period, the game was over.

Tremblay, an unusually belligerent Béliveau, Richard and Robert Rousseau were the pick of the pack for the Habs. Richard controlled the puck. Rousseau and Béliveau broke up two Leaf drives to the goalmouth and Rousseau caught Red Kelly on a two-man break with Bob Pulford.

Pulford played regularly after the first five minutes and put most of the muscle in the Leafs’ play. His skating was hampered by his groin injury but he did not aggravate the ailment.

It was a particular credit to rookie centre Peter Stemkowski, and a rap against his less diligent mates, that he emerged as the Leafs’ top hand because he played most of the game opposite Richard.

The pattern of play was vastly different from Thursday’s tong war won by the Habs 3-2. The Leafs kept their sticks down and it was the Canadiens who prompted what little truculence there was. Their major target was the heart of the Leafs, Bobby Baun, and the usually mild-mannered Béliveau the chief aggressor.

The absence of suspended defenceman Kent Douglas certainly damaged the Leafs’ already weak power play. But it did not explain why they were scarcely able to get a dangerous shot on goal during a first period span when they had a one-man advantage for 5:25 and a two-man edge for two minutes.

The difference in this game and in the series has been power plays. The Habs scored when the Leafs were two players short Saturday night. The Leafs couldn’t reciprocate. Four of Montréal’s six goals have come with the Leafs short. The Leafs have only one power play goal.

Douglas’ absence also does not answer why only two Leaf wingers, Tim Horton and Ron Ellis, were noticeable. Of the rest, Eddie Shack gave an aroused and physical contribution, but he wasn’t released from the bench until the 48th minute. Ron Stewart didn’t get out till the 53rd and Dickie Moore was not called upon as frequently as in the opener, which Pulford watched from the bench.

Don McKenney and George Armstrong were dropped from regular lines in the final period, and Shack was replacing Frank Mahovlich. “The Big M” did set up Ellis’ goal, but he didn’t get a shot on goal for 53 minutes. McKenney and Dave Keon didn’t have one in the first two periods.

By comparison, Béliveau had six in the first period and Richard four.

Mahovlich and Horton were serving penalties when Provost scored on his third whack at rebounds in the third minute. Carl Brewer thought he was sitting on the puck, but it squirted loose and Sawchuk couldn’t smother it.

The Habs didn’t score again until 39:12 when Pulford was off and Béliveau lifted Richard’s rebound out of the crease and over Sawchuk to the top of the net.

“He was lucky,” Sawchuk lamented. “That puck was on its edge. Otherwise he couldn’t have lifted it past me from that distance.

“I just don’t live right, I guess.”

Sawchuk must really have believed that when Richard lofted the puck from outside the blueline. It bounced in the opposite direction of Sawchuk’s slide.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, April 5, 1965

1st Period
TOR PEN – 01:19 – Mahovlich, hooking
TOR PEN – 01:28 – Horton, tripping
MTL PP2 GOAL – 02:47 – Provost (Rousseau, Richard)
MTL PEN – 04:39 – Ferguson, elbowing
MTL PEN – 07:49 – Larose, boarding
MTL PEN – 12:46 – Laperrière, high sticking
TOR PEN – 12:46 – Pulford, high sticking
MTL PEN – 15:42 – Laperrière, charging
MTL PEN – 15:42 – Béliveau, slashing
MTL PEN – 18:35 – Backstrom, elbowing

2nd Period
MTL PEN – 02:05 – Béliveau, slashing
TOR PEN – 02:05 – Baun, roughing
TOR PEN – 07:39 – Arbour, tripping
MTL PEN – 09:00 – Rousseau, misconduct
TOR GOAL – 10:43 – Ellis (Stemkowski, Mahovlich)
MTL PEN – 14:48 – Richard, holding
TOR PEN – 18:21 – Pulford, hooking
MTL PP GOAL – 19:12 – Béliveau (Cournoyer, Richard)

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 01:38 – Mahovlich, tripping
TOR PEN – 09:49 – Pulford, cross checking
MTL GOAL – 12:12 – Richard (Tremblay)
TOR PEN – 13:47 – Baun, kneeing
MTL PEN – 16:47 – Roberts, cross checking

MTL – Hodge (W, 31-32)
TOR – Sawchuk (L, 36-39)

MTL – 11+19+9 = 39
TOR – 12+6+14 = 32

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, Dick Duff, John Ferguson, Claude Larose, Claude Provost, Henri Richard, Bobby Rousseau.
TORGoaltenders: Terry Sawchuk. Defence: Al Arbour, Bobby Baun, Carl Brewer, Tim Horton, Red Kelly, Allan Stanley. Forwards: George Armstrong (C), Andy Bathgate, Ron Ellis, Dave Keon, Frank Mahovlich, Don McKenney, Dickie Moore, Bob Pulford, Eddie Shack, Pete Stemkowski, Ron Stewart.