Playoff Game 58 – Canadiens 6, Maple Leafs 2

Playoff Game 58
Canadiens 6, Maple Leafs 2
Stanley Cup Finals, Game 1
Thursday, April 20, 1967
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

The elusive Henri Richard and Yvan “The Terrible” Cournoyer had a hypnotic effect on the Toronto defence last night as Montréal swept to an authoritative victory in the opening game of the Stanley Cup final.

The Canadiens, a superior force as they manhandled the opposition with ease, scored two goals in each period to whip the Leafs 6-2 before a Forum crowd of 14,779.

The 31-year-old Richard, darting and fleeing the Leaf defence with amazing dexterity, scored three times, positioning himself in the proper place at the right time.

The winning goal in this one-sided contest went to the man who has carried on a personal vendetta against the Leafs all season long. Cournoyer, the 23-year-old power play specialist who whipped home 11 of his 25 goals against the Leafs in the schedule, counted twice from close range when the Leafs were short-handed.

The other Montréal goal went to Jean Béliveau.

Jim Pappin and Larry Hillman scored for the Leafs against Rogatien Vachon, the 21-year-old rookie.

Vachon, who has inspired the Canadiens to an impressive 16-game undefeated streak, may yet make coach George “Punch” Imlach rue the day he said “there is no way they (the Canadiens) can beat us with a junior B goaltender.”

Perhaps rankled by the remark, the Canadiens last night set out to prove that they could beat the Leafs with their Aunt Minnie playing goal.

That’s how strong they were. The Canadiens seldom let the Leafs get set in their end of the ice as they outbumped and forechecked the Leafs with unerring skill.

Vachon faced 26 shots from a team whose coach said “I don’t care about his record. He’s been up against a bunch of peashooters.”

The Leafs, anemic on attack against the frustrating and diligent checking of J.C. Tremblay, Ted Harris, Jacques Laperrière and Terry Harper, seldom were able to see if Vachon is real.

Vachon had a chance to prove he is a major-league goaltender early in the game when Tim Horton broke through the Canadiens defence.

The kid from Palmarolle, Que., beat Horton when he stole the puck off the Leaf defenceman’s stick while sprawled on the ice.

That was really his only chance to make Imlach eat his pre-playoff boast.

He had little chance to block the two goals that the Leafs scored.

Hillman’s drive from the blueline in the first period, which came 15 seconds after Cournoyer counted the game’s first goal, hit a stick or skate and deflected high into the net.

Pappin’s power play goal in the second period was a sizzling 20-footer to the far corner.

The Leafs were playing their best hockey of the night as Horton and Pappin batted the puck back and forth in the Canadiens zone to set up the goal.

That goal, which narrowed the score to 4-2, lifted the Leafs. Frank Mahovlich, who spent most of the evening with Claude Provost shadowing him, whistled a backhander that Vachon blocked and Pappin fired wide from close range.

A few minutes later, Ron Ellis broke in alone and beat Vachon. However, he couldn’t control the puck and didn’t get a shot on goal as J.C. Tremblay scooted in to take the puck away from the goal crease.

Terry Sawchuk, whose goaltending was mainly responsible for the Leafs’ semi-final victory over the Chicago Black Hawks, had little chance to prevent the rout last night before he was replaced by Johnny Bower at 4:53 of the third period.

Sawchuk left when Richard scored his second goal to give Montréal a 5-2 lead. Seconds before Richard’s score, Sawchuk was bounced into the net when Hillman checked Provost into him.

Sawchuk also came over to the bench for a rest in the second period after a scramble in front of him.

Sawchuk, who has been complaining of fatigue, looked and played like a tired goaltender last night. He, like his teammates, did not have the aggressiveness he demonstrated against the Hawks.

Pete Stemkowski and Bob Baun were the only Leafs to show willingness to assault the Canadiens.

Mahovlich, prominent against the Hawks, wasn’t able to get untracked with Provost tailing him closely. Dave Keon, a standout in every game of the semi-finals, was ordinary. His wings, Mahovlich and George Armstrong or Brian Coancher, also had their troubles.

Cournoyer opened the scoring when he wheeled out from behind the Leaf net and whipped a backhander into the far corner when he caught Sawchuk off guard.

On his second goal he grabbed Bobby Rousseau’s rebound that was off to the side of the net and quickly pumped it into the goal with Sawchuk out of position.

“His secret, I think, is his speed,” said Habs goalie Charlie Hodge, a spectator at the series. “He not only is a fast skater but his movements are especially quick. He’s so small that the Leaf defencemen can’t catch him but he’s also strong. He’s muscular for a small guy.

“The Leafs like to play the man instead of the puck. But with Cournoyer I think you have to play the puck instead of him.”

Richard started the play on his first goal when he passed it to Léon Rochefort in the middle of the Leaf zone. Rochefort got off a weak shot that struck Richard’s skate and skidded into the far corner.

On his second goal, Richard took a clearing attempt by Sawchuk and passed to Rochefort. The right-winger fired a shot that Sawchuk blocked. But Sawchuk, who was out of his net, was slow getting back to the crease and Richard grabbed the rebound and slid the puck into the net. Balon, instead of Rochefort, was credited with the assist.

Richard deflected J.C. Tremblay’s high drive past Bower three seconds after Imlach had put out a line of Mike Walton, Conacher and Eddie Shack with Autry Erickson and Bob Baun on defence.

In Shack’s first appearance on the ice in the first period Richard counted his first goal.

Béliveau teamed with Gilles Tremblay for his goal after they skated out to block Horton’s shot at the Montréal blueline. The puck bounced off Tremblay and the two broke down the ice with Allan Stanley scurrying back to defend. Tremblay set up Béliveau and the veteran centre flipped the puck past Sawchuk.

Horton and Stanley were on the ice for the first four Montréal goals. Imlach finally benched Stanley and put Baun in his place.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, April 21, 1967; photo property of Rabid Habs

1st Period
MTL PEN – 01:07 – Larose, high sticking
TOR PEN – 05:56 – Mahovlich, interference
MTL PP GOAL – 06:25 – Cournoyer (Béliveau, Rousseau)
TOR GOAL – 06:40 – Hillman (Pappin)
MTL PEN – 08:35 – Harris, hooking
MTL GOAL – 11:19 – Richard (Rochefort, Balon)
MTL PEN – 11:53 – Harris, hooking
TOR PEN – 12:48 – team, too many men on the ice
MTL PEN – 14:51 – Béliveau, elbowing
MTL PEN – 18:27 – Rochefort, charging

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 02:06 – Pappin, hooking
TOR PEN – 04:28 – Conacher, elbowing
MTL PP GOAL – 05:03 – Cournoyer (Rousseau, Richard)
MTL GOAL – 06:36 – Béliveau (G. Tremblay)
MTL PEN – 12:41 – Harper, elbowing
TOR PP GOAL – 12:59 – Pappin (Horton, Pulford)
MTL PEN – 13:12 – Larose, slashing
TOR PEN – 14:35 – Horton, hooking

3rd Period
MTL GOAL – 04:53 – Richard (Balon)
MTL GOAL – 08:21 – Richard (J. Tremblay)
TOR PEN – 09:14 – Conacher, charging
MTL PEN – 13:23 – Balon, tripping
MTL PEN – 18:34 – Ferguson, hooking

MTL – Vachon (W, 24-26)
TOR – Sawchuk (L, 30-35), Bower (8-9)

MTL – 12+18+14 = 44
TOR – 8+10+8 = 26

MTLGoaltenders: Rogatien Vachon, Lorne Worsley. Defence: Terry Harper, Ted Harris, Jacques Laperrière, 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.
TORGoaltenders: Johnny Bower, Terry Sawchuk. Defence: Bobby Baun, Autry Erickson, Larry Hillman, Tim Horton, Red Kelly, Marcel Pronovost, Allan Stanley. Forwards: George Armstrong (C), Brian Conacher, Ron Ellis, Dave Keon, Frank Mahovlich, Jim Pappin, Bob Pulford, Eddie Shack, Pete Stemkowski, Mike Walton.