Game 501 – Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 2

Game 501
Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 2
Wednesday, November 30, 1966
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Brian Conacher, who forechecks tenaciously, turned this skill into the winning goal at Maple Leaf Gardens last night when the Leafs defeated the Montréal Canadiens 3-2 before a crowd of 15,665.

Conacher, the Leafs’ versatile rookie forward, broke a 2-2 tie at the 11-minute mark of the third period when he lashed a rising 20-foot shot past goalie Gump Worsley.

The rugged left-winger, who wears contact lenses when he plays, stole the puck from Léon Rochefort in the Montréal defending zone.

Conacher then wheeled in front of the Montréal goal and faked a pass as defenceman Jean-Guy Talbot moved up to check him. However, Conacher sidestepped Talbot before driving the puck past Worsley.

Victory enabled the Leafs to keep pace with the New York Rangers in the three-way battle for first place in the National Hockey League. The Leafs and Rangers have 21 points each, one less than the first-place Chicago Black Hawks.

The Leafs, who assumed a quick 2-0 lead in the first period but gave up two goals in the middle period, have beaten the Canadiens three times in four games. The other game ended in a tie.

Defenceman Tim Horton, who was named the game’s number one star, and John Brenneman scored Leaf goals before five minutes had elapsed in the game.

Horton’s goal was slightly tainted, for his shot from the right side of the net hit defenceman J.C. Tremblay’s skate and skidded past Worsley.

Montréal’s goals, which came within a two-minute span in the second period, were scored by Claude Provost and Henri Richard.

Provost’s score was at first ruled no goal by referee Art Skov. However, after he consulted with goal judge Ed Mepham, who signalled a goal, he changed his ruling.

The contest at times resembled one of the old time matches between these two clubs as tempers flared on numerous occasions. However, Skov ignored most of the fighting.

John Ferguson, one of the league’s better policemen, roughed it up with the Leafs all night long. On one of his head-hunting expeditions he took on three Leafs.

His roughhousing play was about the only thing the Canadiens had going for them in the first period. It must have given his teammates some inspiration as the Habitants, who are off to one of their slowest starts in the past two decades, bounced back with two goals.

After bouncing Conacher into the boards with gusto, Ferguson attempted to separate Eddie Shack’s head from his body and was sent off for high sticking.

Thirteen seconds before the end of the first period, Ferguson challenged three Leafs. He put an armlock around Red Kelly’s head and brushed the Leaf centre in the face with his glove.

Kelly’s linemate, Larry Jeffrey, sped into the mixup. This move prompted all the players on the ice, except for the goalies, to grab partners. Jeffrey and Ferguson sparred briefly before Bob Baun joined the skirmish.

Ferguson seemed more eager to get at Baun than Jeffrey before the melee was broken up. Ferguson and Jeffrey drew high sticking minors on the play.

Jeffrey, who played another outstanding game and set up Ron Ellis on two occasions, also made threatening gestures at Richard and Worsley after colliding with Worsley in the goalmouth in the final period.

It was a frustrating evening for Ellis as his linemates, Kelly and Jeffrey, set him up on at least four occasions with only Worsley to beat. But either a great stop by “The Gumper” or an erratic shot prevented him from scoring. Worsley faced 38 shots.

Leaf goalie Terry Sawchuk was almost as busy, facing 36 drives. He made a brilliant save with his glove on Gilles Tremblay’s sizzling shot in the second period.

Tremblay didn’t see much action in the final period after he was cut over the right ear by Jim Pappin’s stick. Tremblay might be out of action for at least a week.

The Leafs, humiliated 5-0 by the Rangers in their previous start, were aggressive from the opening whistle and their forechecking, especially by Kelly, led to their first goal.

Horton, who blocked repeated passes in his own zone, snared a loose puck in the centre zone and broke over the blueline on the right side. He eluded Jacques Laperrière and fired the puck toward the goal as Pappin raced in for a rebound. However, the puck hit J.C. Tremblay’s skate.

J.C. Tremblay was beaten for the second goal also when the puck was taken away from him behind the goal by Shack, who fed a pass to Brenneman. He fired quickly from close range.

Most fans in the Gardens and those watching the game on television didn’t see Provost’s goal. But Mepham did. Sawchuk pulled the puck out before most spectators were aware it was in the net.

Less than two minutes later, Richard was at his niftiest in beating Horton, then faking Sawchuk before sliding the puck home.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, December 1, 1966

1st Period
TOR GOAL – 01:38 – Horton
TOR GOAL – 04:31 – Brenneman (Shack)
MTL PEN – 05:22 – Ferguson, high sticking
TOR PEN – 08:37 – Armstrong, hooking
TOR PEN – 14:06 – Armstrong, interference
MTL PEN – 19:47 – Ferguson, high sticking
TOR PEN – 19:47 – Jeffrey, high sticking

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 07:06 – Conacher, charging
MTL GOAL – 10:50 – Provost (Béliveau, Talbot)
MTL GOAL – 12:33 – Richard (Ferguson, Laperrière)

3rd Period
TOR GOAL – 11:00 – Conacher (Stanley, Stemkowski)
MTL PEN – 11:39 – Backstrom, holding
MTL PEN – 15:20 – Provost, hooking

TOR – Sawchuk (W, 34-36)
MTL – Worsley (L, 35-38)

TOR – 14+12+12 = 38
MTL – 14+17+5 = 36

TORGoaltenders: Johnny Bower, Terry Sawchuk. Defence: Bobby Baun, Larry Hillman, Tim Horton, Red Kelly, Marcel Pronovost, 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, 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, Léon Rochefort, Bobby Rousseau, Gilles Tremblay.

TOR – 7-4-7 (.583)
MTL – 7-8-1 (.469)