Game 496 – Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 0

Game 496
Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 0
Thursday, March 24, 1966
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

There is more money for the team that finishes first in the National Hockey League, but this season there is also a drawback.

It looks as if the Maple Leafs will finish third and you can bet this week’s pay cheque neither the Montréal Canadiens nor Chicago Black Hawks relish the thought of meeting Toronto in the first round of the playoffs.

Montréal especially. The Leafs defeated the Canadiens 2-0 last night at the Forum and it most certainly must have been some kind of record. It was Toronto’s fifth win in seven games here this season, although the Canadiens have been known for years to be practically invincible at home.

This was a game that should have been played on a Saturday night so that television fans could have watched it.

The Canadiens stormed out in the first period, outshooting the Leafs 13-3, but scarfaced old Johnny Bower was as pliable as a piece of elastic in the Leaf net. It was perhaps Bower’s finest game of the season as he blocked 34 shots for his third shutout, and most of those shots came when the Canadiens could see the whites of his eyes.

It was finally settled at 16:01 of the third period on Dave Keon’s goal that sent the 15,478 fans into a rubber-throwing frenzy.

They all claimed the goal was offside and they were still yelling at referee Frank Udvari when Frank Mahovlich wrapped it up with a goal at 19:09.

Keon’s controversial goal came on a play started by Larry Hillman. Hillman, at his own blueline, passed directly across to Tim Horton who had stepped on the ice as the Leafs changed on the go. Horton swept a rinkwide pass ahead to Keon in one motion and Keon took it on his skates at the Montréal blueline.

Even some pressbox observers felt Keon might have crossed the line ahead of the puck, but linesman Brian Sopp was on top of the play and apparently felt differently.

Keon cut in on the net, with a halfstep on defenceman J.C. Tremblay, looked Gump Worsley straight in the eye, then shifted quickly as the Montréal goalkeeper moved out and slipped the puck behind him.

Jean Béliveau argued vehemently with Udvari, then the crowd joined in, and anything that wasn’t nailed down seemed to wind up on the ice.

“But did you notice,” said injured Leaf Allan Stanley in the pressbox, “that the crowd didn’t yell for an offside call until Béliveau started to complain? That should be proof that Keon was onside on the play.”

At 18:58 of the final period, Hillman was checking Henri Richard in the Leaf zone with his stick caught in Richard’s legs. He finally left his stick and skated to the corner to try to freeze the puck. When Udvari didn’t call a hooking penalty on Hillman, the fans sent another hail of foot rubbers in his direction.

Eleven seconds later, George Armstrong was in the corner in the Toronto zone. He got the puck in a scramble and executed a perfect pass to send Mahovlich on a breakaway.

Mahovlich was at centre with Bobby Rousseau draped on him. Rousseau is probably still trying to figure out how Mahovlich took the pinpoint pass.

He scooted down the ice like a gazelle, pulled Worsley from the net with one of his patented swooping shifts, and shoved the puck behind “The Gumper.”

The real hero was old Johnny Bower. Even in the final minute, at 19:34 to be exact, he made a great save on Béliveau to protect his shutout.

In the first and second periods, Bower was the only man keeping the Canadiens from piling up a sizable lead. Montréal had outshot the Leafs 25-9 after two periods and enjoyed a 34-20 edge in the game.

Manager-coach Punch Imlach went back to four lines late in the second period, moving Tim Horton up from defence, and, enjoying a one-line edge in manpower, the Leafs stormed out in the third and wore the Canadiens out.

Toronto used Rochester veteran Al Arbour as an emergency replacement for the suspended Kent Douglas, and Arbour was one of the best defencemen on the ice. He fell and blocked seven shots in the first two periods alone, any of which might have gone in.

Even more frustrating to the Canadiens than the fact that it was the end of a humiliating home series against the Leafs was the score posted in the Forum showing Boston had beaten Chicago 3-1.

With a chance to gain an edge on the Hawks in their fight for first place, the Habs blew it.

Then again – who wants to meet the Leafs in the playoffs? (Did somebody out there say Detroit?)

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, March 25, 1966

1st Period
TOR PEN – 06:45 – Stemkowski, holding
TOR PEN – 11:48 – Horton, hooking
TOR PEN – 15:38 – Selby, tripping
MTL PEN – 18:58 – Ferguson, high sticking

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 03:19 – Shack, high sticking
MTL PEN – 04:28 – Béliveau, tripping
TOR PEN – 11:06 – Armstrong, tripping

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 00:47 – Harris, tripping
TOR GOAL – 16:01 – Keon (Horton, Hillman)
TOR GOAL – 19:09 – Mahovlich (Armstrong)

TOR – Bower (W + SO, 34-34)
MTL – Worsley (L, 18-20)

TOR – 3+6+11 = 20
MTL – 13+12+9 = 34

TORGoaltenders: Johnny Bower, Terry Sawchuk. Defence: Al Arbour, Bobby Baun, Larry Hillman, Tim Horton, Red Kelly, Marcel Pronovost. 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, Gump Worsley. Defence: Terry Harper, Ted Harris, Noel Price, Jim Roberts, Jean-Guy Talbot, 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.

TOR – 32-23-9 (.570)
MTL – 36-21-8 (.615)