Game 489 – Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 2

Game 489
Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 2
Wednesday, December 29, 1965
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

People keep asking why the Maple Leafs have kept George Armstrong around so long, and “The Chief” gave them part of the answer last night at the Gardens.

The veteran Leaf captain scored the winning goal to cap a great third-period comeback as the Leafs defeated the Montréal Canadiens 3-2 to extend their unbeaten streak in the National Hockey League to nine games.

“A guy said that just tonight, between the second and third periods,” said vice president Harold Ballard. “He said that Army looked too old and that it was time we put him out to pasture.”

However, Armstrong, although he may be half a stride slower than he was, still has the experience that pays off in big games. It was only his fourth goal of the season, but it had considerable effect on the standing.

The Chicago Black Hawks moved into first place, a point ahead of Montréal, by blanking the New York Rangers 3-0, and the Leafs moved two points closer to the third-place Detroit Red Wings.

The Leafs are only four points behind Chicago, an indication of how tightly the top four teams are bunched.

The Canadiens jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first period on soft goals by Dick Duff and Jean Béliveau, even though the Leafs outshot them 18-8 during that period.

After a goalless second period, the Leafs came back with goals by Bob Pulford and Frank Mahovlich to tie it in the third and Armstrong scored the winner.

The Leafs were a man short at the time and Armstrong picked up a puck that deflected off the shins of Montréal defenceman Jacques Laperrière at the Canadiens blueline. In alone, he showed his experience by picking a corner, taking his time and firing the puck past Charlie Hodge.

“The reason we’re on a hot streak isn’t so much that we have guys who are becoming big stars,” Punch Imlach had said before the game. “It’s because we haven’t had many weaknesses. It’s a team effort and that’s what has always won for us in the past.”

Toe Blake had been bemoaning the fact that it was always his luck to meet a team when it was playing well.

There were 14,996 fans at the game, the largest crowd of the season, and they were treated to a fine defensive show by the Leafs’ Tim Horton, perhaps the best defenceman in the league when he is having a big game. And Hodge, especially in the first period, was the Montréal standout.

Other strong performers were Pulford for the Leafs and Béliveau and Duff for Montréal.

Three of the goals came on power plays – Béliveau’s, Pulford’s and Mahovlich’s. Terry Sawchuk appeared to lose his grasp on the puck on Duff’s goal, and Béliveau flipped it past him in a scramble. But from that point on, Sawchuk played strongly.

Pulford’s goal was knocked into the net by Laperrière in a scramble and Mahovlich made a perfect bunt to deflect Larry Hillman’s shot from the point into an open corner.

The Canadiens tried everything to gain a tie for the last seven minutes, but Imlach used his strongest defensive players overtime to protect his lead and they did it, despite a two minute penalty to Marcel Pronovost with less than four minutes to go.

The Boston Bruins will be here Saturday night, then the Leafs head for Detroit Sunday for a game that could shoot them into third place.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, December 30, 1965

1st Period
MTL GOAL – 03:35 – Duff (Béliveau, Rousseau)
TOR PEN – 04:00 – Pulford, hooking
MTL PP GOAL – 05:22 – Béliveau (Duff, Cournoyer)
MTL PEN – 08:50 – Harper, roughing
MTL PEN – 09:55 – Laperrière, elbowing
MTL PEN – 19:24 – Rousseau, tripping
TOR PEN – 20:00 – Mahovlich, high sticking

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 08:35 – Shack, slashing
MTL PEN – 19:57 – G. Tremblay, hooking

3rd Period
TOR PP GOAL – 01:25 – Pulford
MTL PEN – 05:30 – Béliveau, hooking
TOR PP GOAL – 05:59 – Mahovlich (Hillman, Armstrong)
TOR PEN – 10:00 – Shack, charging
MTL PEN – 11:05 – Rousseau, interference
TOR PEN – 11:32 – Horton, delay of game
TOR SH GOAL – 13:08 – Armstrong (Keon, Sawchuk)
MTL PEN – 13:46 – Talbot, holding
MTL PEN – 13:46 – Duff, misconduct
TOR PEN – 16:15 – Pronovost, interference

TOR – Sawchuk (W, 27-29)
MTL – Hodge (L, 36-39)

TOR – 18+8+13 = 39
MTL – 8+12+9 = 29

TORGoaltenders: Terry Sawchuk. Defence: Kent Douglas, Larry Hillman, Tim Horton, Red Kelly, Marcel Pronovost, Allan Stanley. Forwards: George Armstrong (C), Wally Boyer, Ron Ellis, Dave Keon, Orland Kurtenbach, Frank Mahovlich, Bob Pulford, Brit Selby, Eddie Shack, Pete Stemkowski.
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, Claude Provost, Henri Richard, Bobby Rousseau, Gilles Tremblay.

TOR – 14-10-5 (.569)
MTL – 16-8-4 (.643)