Game 500 – Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 1

Game 500
Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 1
Saturday, November 19, 1966
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

The goal meant little to most people as it came when the verdict was clearly decided.

It was scored by veteran centreman Red Kelly, with less than two minutes to play and it meant that instead of the Toronto Maple Leafs whipping the Montréal Canadiens 4-1, the final score was 5-1.

But the goal was significant to the 39-year-old redhead who two years ago deserted federal politics. It was a milestone in Kelly’s career.

Many of the 15,986 fans in Maple Leaf Gardens, the largest crowd to see a National Hockey League game in Toronto since 1946, were already heading for the exits and missed the well-executed goal.

They had seen enough of an inept Montréal hockey team that actually resembled a last place club. They had seen two of the dullest and sloppiest periods of hockey this season at the Gardens.

They had also seen the Leafs’ Quiet Line of Kelly and his young, hard-skating wingmen, Ron Ellis and Larry Jeffrey, come up with its best effort of the year by scoring four goals. Ellis got two.

When Kelly’s line took its last shift, the game was well decided as the Leafs were toying with a dispirited, disorganized Montréal team. The Habs defence was timid and porous and the many combinations of forward lines with which coach Toe Blake experimented acted like strangers.

The Canadiens began the game without their all-star defenceman J.C. Tremblay, and lost their best player, captain Jean Béliveau, at the 12 minute mark of the first period when a groin injury made it too painful for him to play.

Kelly, who had drawn assists on two goals, was forechecking near centre ice when he jabbed the puck away from Montréal defenceman Jean-Guy Talbot. Suddenly he was in the clear with only goalie Gump Worsley opposing him.

The old redhead made it look easy as he picked the right corner of the net with a low shot from about 35 feet out.

Kelly was a proud man when the goal light went on.

Why did he covet the 271st goal of his 20-year NHL career?

It wasn’t a game winner or his first of the season.

“That goal put me ahead of Howie Morenz and Aurèle Joliat. I was tied with them until tonight. Was I a tiger on that one?” said Kelly.

It comes as no surprise to coach George Imlach that the Quiet Line of Kelly-Jeffrey-Ellis, three of the more sedate players on the team, is the Leafs’ best forward unit.

“I don’t think Red got enough credit for his play last year,” said Imlach. “Pulford and Shack both had great years. Pully got 28 and Eddie 26. And who did they play with? Kelly.

“It’s no accident these people had good seasons. That’s why I decided to put Red with Ellis and Jeffrey. Here was a chance to develop two hockey players.”

The Quiet Line, which was formed at training camp this fall, still has problems because not one of its members is a holler guy when on the attack. But they’re learning to communicate.

After games, on the way to the airport, or train station, Ellis or Jeffrey will often approach Kelly and go over plays or mistakes they might have made.

It was Jeffrey who broke a goalless tie near the end of the second period. He broke in with Ellis, who fired a shot at Worsley. Just as Jeffrey put his stick on the rebound he was tripped and slid into Worsley. The puck, Worsley and Jeffrey ended up in the net.

It wasn’t a pretty goal, but it got the Leafs going. For the second time this season Jim Pappin fired the winning goal against the Habs. Frank Mahovlich did most of the work on the goal before setting Pappin up in front of the net early in the third period.

Montréal came back with its only goal as Dave Balon rounded Bob Baun and rifled a shot past goalie Terry Sawchuk, who made many excellent saves when the score was close.

Ellis then broke the game wide open. He flipped in Kelly’s rebound when Montréal was shorthanded then later used Jeffrey as a decoy on a two-man break while the Leafs’ Allan Stanley was in the penalty box.

Ellis faked a pass to Jeffrey and when Worsley left the post, Ellis drove the puck home.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, November 21, 1966

1st Period

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 18:17 – Jeffrey (Kelly, Ellis)
TOR PEN – 19:46 – Pulford, slashing

3rd Period
TOR GOAL – 03:35 – Pappin (Mahovlich, Keon)
MTL GOAL – 06:23 – Balon (Ferguson)
TOR PEN – 09:11 – Armstrong, holding
MTL PEN – 10:21 – Rousseau, slashing + misconduct
TOR PP GOAL – 12:20 – Ellis (Kelly, Baun)
TOR PEN – 13:02 – Stanley, hooking
TOR SH GOAL – 14:43 – Ellis (Jeffrey)
TOR GOAL – 18:12 – Kelly (Jeffrey, Douglas)

TOR – Sawchuk (W, 30-31)
MTL – Worsley (L, 26-31)

TOR – 8+11+12 = 31
MTL – 7+12+12 = 31

TORGoaltenders: Bruce Gamble, Terry Sawchuk. Defence: Bobby Baun, Kent Douglas, Tim Horton, Red Kelly, Allan Stanley. Forwards: George Armstrong (C), John Brenneman, Brian Conacher, Ron Ellis, Larry Jeffrey, Dave Keon, Frank Mahovlich, Jim Pappin, Bob Pulford, Eddie Shack, Pete Stemkowski.
MTLGoaltenders: Charlie Hodge, Gump Worsley. Defence: Terry Harper, Ted Harris, Jacques Laperrière, Noel Price, Jim Roberts, Jean-Guy Talbot. Forwards: Ralph Backstrom, Dave Balon, Jean Béliveau (C), Yvan Cournoyer, Dick Duff, John Ferguson, Claude Larose, Claude Provost, Henri Richard, Léon Rochefort, Bobby Rousseau, Gilles Tremblay.

TOR – 4-3-6 (.538)
MTL – 4-6-1 (.409)