Game 510 – Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 3

Game 510
Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 3
Wednesday, March 22, 1967
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

The Montréal Canadiens, who have been impersonating a fourth-place team in recent weeks, are starting to return to championship character in time for the playoffs.

They needed to come up with one of their better performances here last night to stop the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3. The loss dropped the Leafs into a third-place tie with the Canadiens as the Rangers eased into lone control of second with their tie in Chicago.

The win made it official that the Canadiens will qualify for the playoffs. The Detroit Red Wings, regardless of what they do in remaining games, can’t climb beyond fifth place.

The Leafs, who burdened themselves with a three-goal handicap in the first half of the game, made a superlative comeback, but they found that three-goal impost too big a disadvantage.

Rogatien Vachon, a goalkeeper who had an embarrassing experience last time the Canadiens played here and defenceman J.C. Tremblay played the dominant roles in their team’s win.

Vachon was beaten five times in the first period a few weeks back as the Leafs won 6-4. He came up with the big saves last night, despite a tendency to wander and leave his net. A crowd of 15,658 groaned in frustration many times when a Leaf missed the wide-open net.

J.C. Tremblay scored two goals as the Canadiens built a 3-0 lead. He deserved a third late in the second period when he glided through the Toronto defence, but Bruce Gamble stopped his shot.

Ralph Backstrom, Henri Richard and Jean Béliveau scored Montréal’s other goals.

Béliveau’s goal, his first in 21 games, destroyed a determined comeback by the Leafs.

With little more than three minutes left in the game he lashed a shot from outside the Leafs blueline and the puck soared past Gamble for the Canadiens’ fifth goal.

The Leafs, attacking with a resourcefulness and surprising stamina, had accomplished everything except the tying goal in the preceding minutes. They swarmed around the Montréal net, confused the Canadiens with their persistence, but couldn’t produce the tying goal.

Béliveau scored his clincher on an unintentional pass from the Leafs’ Bobby Pulford. He swept the puck back to the right point in the Montréal zone where Béliveau picked it up, wheeled, and strode back the other way. Tim Horton was the only Leaf in his way. Béliveau didn’t wait to see if reinforcements were on the way. He fired from long range.

Ron Ellis scored two goals for the Leafs, raising his total for the season to 21. Pulford, one of the strongest Leafs, scored their other goal, the 200th of his National Hockey League career.

The Canadiens are known for their finesse and speed, yet it was raw brawn they exhibited in the first period. As usual, John Ferguson, who has a strong aversion to blue and white sweaters, was in the middle of the belligerence.

Early in the game, Ferguson flicked Pulford in the face. Referee Art Skov didn’t think it deserved a penalty.

A couple of minutes later the Leafs’ Jim Pappin steered Terry Harper of the Canadiens into the boards. Harper took exception and skated after Pappin who thrust a stick at him. This was the kind of situation that always seems to inspire Ferguson and it worked that way again.

Since Larry Hillman was the nearest Leaf, Ferguson tackled him. Pappin and Harper fell in a tangle on the ice and Pete Stemkowski and Carol Vadnais exchanged strong embraces.

Normally the linesmen try to break up these bouts. This time they didn’t interfere. Ferguson swung wildly at Hillman. Most of his blows were to the Toronto player’s shoulder pads. Hillman, who had a choke hold on Ferguson, countered by banging Ferguson’s head on the glass.

Pappin received a heat cut from his horizontal scrap with Harper. All four combatants received major penalties for fighting.

Ferguson and Bobby Baun of the Leafs had a spat in front of the Toronto goal in the second period. This time the linesmen moved in. Ferguson broke away long enough to throw a glove in Baun’s face. Skov didn’t call any penalties for this scuffle. He imposed only one in the final two periods.

Backstrom scored the only goal of the first period, steering Harper’s shot past Gamble. J.C. Tremblay scored the next two in the second period as the Canadiens bewildered the Leafs with intricate passing plays.

J.C. drove in a short pass from Bobby Rousseau for his first goal and he combined with Léon Rochefort for his second, deflecting Rochefort’s pass by Gamble. On both goals the unhurried Tremblay gave the impression he had immunity from the Leafs’ checking and the Leafs didn’t prove otherwise.

Ellis became the first Toronto player to score 20 goals this season when he flung a backhand shot past Vachon for the Leafs’ first goal. Richard floated back to restore the Canadiens’ three goal lead, finishing off another pretty passing play. Late in the period, Pulford scored when his long shot hit the goal post and ricocheted behind Vachon.

Ellis’ second goal in the third period, through Vachon’s pads, was the only dividend the Leafs received from one of their hardest working periods of the season.

Defenceman Tim Horton played a strong game for the Leafs, consistently manhandling Béliveau along the boards, which isn’t an easy chore. Dave Keon was another prominent Leaf, singularly successful on his puck-hunting expeditions in the third period. Pete Stemkowski contributed a great deal of efficient checking.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, March 23, 1967

1st Period
TOR PEN – 03:12 – Stemkowski, high sticking
TOR PEN – 06:27 – Hillman, fighting major
MTL PEN – 06:27 – Ferguson, fighting major
TOR PEN – 06:27 – Pappin, fighting major
MTL PEN – 06:27 – Harper, fighting major
TOR PEN – 08:08 – Horton, interference
MTL PEN – 09:53 – Rousseau, tripping
TOR PEN – 11:27 – Stemkowski, holding
MTL GOAL – 15:11 – Backstrom (Harper, Ferguson)
MTL PEN – 17:47 – Balon, boarding

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 00:58 – J. Tremblay (Rousseau, G. Tremblay)
MTL PEN – 04:48 – Vadnais, hooking
MTL GOAL – 06:55 – J. Tremblay (Rochefort, Talbot)
TOR GOAL – 11:25 – Ellis (Kelly, Pronovost)
MTL GOAL – 14:56 – Richard (Balon, Harris)
TOR GOAL – 16:09 – Pulford (Stemkowski, Ellis)

3rd Period
TOR GOAL – 09:23 – Ellis (Mahovlich, Hillman)
MTL GOAL – 16:54 – Béliveau (Ferguson)

MTL – Vachon (W, 38-41)
TOR – Gamble (L, 30-35)

MTL – 16+12+7 = 35
TOR – 12+17+12 = 41

MTLGoaltenders: Rogatien Vachon, Gump Worsley. Defence: Terry Harper, Ted Harris, Jean-Guy Talbot, J.C. Tremblay, Carol Vadnais. Forwards: Ralph Backstrom, Dave Balon, Jean Béliveau (C), Yvan Cournoyer, John Ferguson, Claude Larose, Claude Provost, Henri Richard, Léon Rochefort, Bobby Rousseau, Gilles Tremblay.
TORGoaltenders: Bruce Gamble, Terry Sawchuk. Defence: Bobby Baun, Larry Hillman, Tim Horton, Red Kelly, Marcel Pronovost, Allan Stanley. Forwards: George Armstrong (C), Brian Conacher, Ron Ellis, Larry Jeffrey, Dave Keon, Frank Mahovlich, Jim Pappin, Bob Pulford, Pete Stemkowski, Mike Walton.

MTL – 27-25-13 (.515)
TOR – 28-25-11 (.523)