Game 491 – Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 4

Game 491
Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 4
Thursday, February 3, 1966
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

Considering the odds against them, the Maple Leafs almost pulled their biggest upset of the National Hockey League season here last night.

Why, even George Imlach, the leader, said before the game that he would be lucky to come out with a tie.

But the Leafs didn’t have the lasting power as they dropped a 5-4 decision to the Montréal Canadiens, and they didn’t have Jean Béliveau.

Béliveau scored twice to snap out of a slump before 15,513 fans and the win pushed the Canadiens within range of the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Black Hawks, who are tied in first place, one point ahead of Montréal.

What were the odds against Imlach’s gang?

Well, on their last trip here, they handed the Canadiens their worst loss in two seasons as they humiliated them 6-0. The Canadiens weren’t expected to forget it. And they obviously didn’t.

Marcel Pronovost was on the injured list and Bobby Baun, after nine weeks on the sidelines, was taking his place without a breaking-in period.

Johnny Bower, the veteran goaltender who plays so well here, didn’t make the trip because of a groin injury, forcing Imlach to go with Terry Sawchuk, who was shaky in his last outing, an 8-4 loss to the New York Rangers.

“Sure I would have played Bower tonight,” Imlach had said. “If it’s too bad going into the third period, I may stick Smith in there. No sense bringin’ him up and not usin’ him.”

He was talking about Gary Smith, the tall lad who plays goal for the Rochester Americans, who was replacing Bower.

It isn’t often that you hear Imlach speaking negatively before a game and a bettor would have rushed out and put a couple of hundred on Montréal.

Surprisingly, the Leafs didn’t play dead.

They held a 4-3 lead going into the third period and might have pulled it out had it not been for a pair of penalties and bouncing puck.

Sawchuk was magnificent, despite the score.

Larry Hillman took a penalty for kneeing at 6:01 of the third period and the Leafs’ penalty killers knocked themselves out keeping Montréal at bay during that one. Then, at 9:48, Kent Douglas took one for holding.

The Leafs almost got through that one, too, but Henri Richard, who seems to get important goals against the Leafs every time they play, scored the equalizer. Sawchuk had made a point-blank save on Yvan Cournoyer and the rebound went to Bobby Rousseau, who put Richard in alone.

At the 14:13 mark, Béliveau scored the winner. Noel Price, called up as a replacement for the injured Jean-Guy Talbot, lifted the puck into the Leaf zone and Hillman leaped to knock it down with his glove. It bounced to Gilles Tremblay who batted it to Béliveau, and Béliveau baited it past Sawchuk in flight.

Béliveau then was penalized with less than three minutes remaining, but the Canadiens tightened their defences and the Leafs couldn’t beat Gump Worsley.

Edward Shack, with goal number 18 of the season, was set up by Bob Pulford to give the Leafs the lead, then the Canadiens fought back with goals by Rousseau and Béliveau, both of which the Leafs said were offside, to take a 2-1 lead. Frank Mahovlich knotted it again before the first period ended, then the Leafs came back with two in the second.

Ron Ellis, with a big assist to Wally Boyer, and Dave Keon were the marksmen.

Then, seconds after Tim Horton returned from the penalty box, Claude Provost bounced the puck in off Sawchuk’s skate to end second period scoring.

The Leafs now face a weekend of horror – two games, back-to-back, against Rapid Robert Hull and his Chicago Black Hawks.

NOTES: Rookie Brit Selby needed a stitching job on his forehead after a skirmish with Terry Harper and John Ferguson of the Canadiens in the first period. Selby went into the boards with Harper, threw a punch, and Fergson attacked him from behind, hitting and cutting him over the left eye…Price, a former Leaf, Ranger and Red Wing, is with the Québec Aces and was one of Montréal’s top performers, very popular with the fans…After his skirmish with Selby, Ferguson found it better to stay clear of Tim Horton, who made things rather rough whenever Ferguson was in the vicinity…King Clancy, Imlach’s assistant, is off to Melville, Sask., today for a guest-speaking appearance tomorrow.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, February 4, 1966

1st Period
TOR PEN – 07:38 – Baun, interference
TOR GOAL – 12:25 – Shack (Pulford, Hillman)
MTL GOAL – 14:49 – Rousseau (Richard, J. Tremblay)
MTL GOAL – 16:03 – Béliveau (Price, G. Tremblay)
MTL PEN – 16:27 – Price, interference
MTL PEN – 18:14 – Laperrière, charging
TOR PP GOAL – 18:35 – Mahovlich (Armstrong, Douglas)
TOR PEN – 19:56 – Selby, roughing double minor
MTL PEN – 19:56 – Ferguson, fighting major

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 03:08 – Ellis (Boyer)
TOR GOAL – 05:43 – Keon (Douglas, Mahovlich)
TOR PEN – 10:17 – Horton, interference
MTL GOAL – 12:24 – Provost (Béliveau, G. Tremblay)

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 06:01 – Hillman, kneeing
TOR PEN – 09:48 – Douglas, holding
MTL PP GOAL – 11:15 – Richard (Rousseau, Cournoyer)
MTL GOAL – 14:13 – Béliveau (G. Tremblay, Price)
MTL PEN – 17:36 – Béliveau, holding

MTL – Worsley (W, 36-40)
TOR – Sawchuk (L, 33-38)

MTL – 11+12+15 = 38
TOR – 15+12+13 = 40

MTLGoaltenders: Gump Worsley. Defence: Terry Harper, Jacques Laperrière, Noel Price, Jim Roberts, J.C. Tremblay. Forwards: Ralph Backstrom, Jean Béliveau (C), Yvan Cournoyer, Dick Duff, John Ferguson, Claude Larose, Claude Provost, Henri Richard, Bobby Rousseau, Gilles Tremblay.
TORGoaltenders: Terry Sawchuk. Defence: Bobby Baun, Kent Douglas, Larry Hillman, Tim Horton, Red Kelly, Allan Stanley. Forwards: George Armstrong (C), Wally Boyer, Ron Ellis, Dave Keon, Orland Kurtenbach, Frank Mahovlich, Bob Pulford, Brit Selby, Eddie Shack.

MTL – 24-14-5 (.616)
TOR – 20-17-5 (.536)