Playoff Game 59 – Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 0

Playoff Game 59
Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 0
Stanley Cup Finals, Game 2
Saturday, April 22, 1967
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

The Toronto Maple Leafs unleashed an obstinate and abrasive defence to demoralize the Canadiens’ swift skaters and tie the Stanley Cup final series at one win apiece in the Forum Saturday afternoon.

The Leafs, humiliated in the opening game of the final, handcuffed Montréal’s big shooters in gaining a 3-0 victory behind goalie John Bower’s netminding.

The best-of-seven series resumes in Toronto for the third and fourth games tomorrow and Thursday.

In a complete reversal of form, the Leafs checked and hammered the Canadiens from the opening whistle. By the time the third period was half over, many in the crowd of 14,789 were heading for the exits. They knew there was no way the Canadiens would be able to break through the leech-like checking of the Leafs.

Whenever the Canadiens were able to barge through, there was the 42-year-old Bower, sliding from one side of the net to the other to turn aside their best shots. He stopped 31 shots and his fifth Stanley Cup shutout and his first since 1964, the year the Leafs last won the Cup.

The Leafs gave Bower all the support he needed before the third period started by building a 3-0 lead on goals by Pete Stemkowski, Mike Walton and Tim Horton.

Stemkowski beat rookie Rogatien Vachon from close range in the first period and Walton and Horton scored on long shots in the second period. The Stemkowski and Walton goals came while the Canadiens were shorthanded.

Vachon, centre of controversy ever since the Leafs’ George Imlach said the Canadiens could not win with a junior B goalie, had little chance to prevent any of the goals.

In losing the Canadiens had their 16-game undefeated streak and a string of 11 winning games smashed by a Toronto team that demonstrated the determination which was evident in the upset over the Chicago Black Hawks in the semi-final.

Bower, clipped about the head and face three times by the Habs’ John Ferguson, gained the most recognition because of the shutout. He earned the tribute considering he had played only 35 minutes in seven previous playoff games this season.

He was surprised when Imlach asked him to take over in goal before the team went on the ice for the pre-game warmup. Bower figured that Sawchuk, who had been sharp in the playoffs, would get the call.

But Bower was the man, and he had the answers for Jean Béliveau, Yvan Cournoyer, Claude Larose, Gilles Tremblay and Ferguson. Twice he made toe saves on blasts off Cournoyer’s stick when the Leafs were shorthanded. Another time Cournoyer bounced a shot off Bower’s right hand from in close.

Ferguson had a chance from 10 feet, but Bower got his pads in the front of the drive. In the third period Gilles Tremblay swept in alone on the left side. Bower slid out of his net and smothered the shot.

Bower said he was a bit lucky to stop Larose’s shot to the far corner. He stretched to nab the puck at the last moment. That play occurred late in the third period and it was the Canadiens’ last gasp.

The Canadiens had their best chance to break through the Toronto defence in the second period when the Leafs were shorthanded from 10:23 to 13:58. For 35 seconds the Leafs had two men in the penalty box, Marcel Pronovost and Brian Conacher.

The penalty-killers were on top in their pursuit of the puck. Dave Keon was never better in tying up a puck carrier or poking the puck over the blueline. His checking was relentless.

Skating much better and almost as effective as Keon was team captain George Armstrong. When Keon needed relief during shorthanded situations, Imlach had Ron Ellis, Bob Pulford and Brian Conacher ready. They also did a thorough chore of thwarting the Habs, who seven times had the man advantage.

Pulford, in a two-way effort, played his best game of the playoffs. His hard skating and close checking again helped make the Stemkowski, Jim Pappin line effective.

Stemkowski’s, hockey’s Magnetic Pole, came back to play strongly in the third period after he was speared in the stomach by Montréal’s Ted Harris seconds before Horton’s goal.

Not to be overlooked was the defensive combinations of Horton and Allan Stanley and Larry Hillman and Marcel Pronovost. Horton, who repeatedly charged up the ice after breaking up plays, threw himself across the ice two or three times to disrupt Hab scoring thrusts. Stanley, hitting and directing play, was particularly effective in dusting off Larose every time the left-winger moved in.

The Leafs barged into a 1-0 lead while Terry Harper was off for roughing. Stemkowski, who hit the goalpost in the first minute of play, completed a play with Pulford and Walton at 12:14 when he batted in Pulford’s goal-mouth pass.

A dazzling rush by Frank Mahovlich set up the second goal, at 9:12 of the second period when Cournoyer was off for slashing Conacher. “The Big M” was pushed away from the net after breaking down the right side and the puck was shoved toward the blueline by Jean-Guy Talbot.

However, Pappin stopped it and passed quickly to Walton, who hit the net from 40 feet.

Horton’s goal was a product of the Leafs forechecking. Conacher moved in on a Montréal player in the Canadiens zone and knocked the puck loose. He scampered after it and passed to Stemkowski, who dumped the puck back to Horton inside the blueline.

As Stemkowski crumpled to the ice in agony from Harris’ spearing, the puck whizzed past Vachon.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, April 24, 1967; photo property of Yardbarker

1st Period
TOR PEN – 01:29 – Ellis, holding
MTL PEN – 11:59 – Harper, roughing
TOR PP GOAL – 12:14 – Stemkowski (Pulford, Walton)
TOR PEN – 14:56 – Stanley, tripping
MTL PEN – 17:17 – Harris, hooking
TOR PEN – 19:41 – Conacher, roughing
MTL PEN – 19:41 – Ferguson, roughing

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 05:23 – Horton, tripping
MTL PEN – 07:18 – Cournoyer, slashing
TOR PP GOAL – 09:12 – Walton (Pappin, Mahovlich)
TOR PEN – 10:23 – Pronovost, tripping
TOR PEN – 11:58 – Conacher, charging
MTL PEN – 14:26 – Ferguson, interference
TOR GOAL – 16:57 – Horton (Stemkowski, Conacher)

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 07:58 – Conacher, hooking
MTL PEN – 14:21 – Béliveau, slashing
TOR PEN – 16:02 – Stemkowski, tripping

TOR – Bower (W + SO, 31-31)
MTL – Vachon (L, 40-43)

TOR – 14+10+19 = 43
MTL – 13+9+9 = 31

TORGoaltenders: Johnny Bower, Terry Sawchuk. Defence: Bobby Baun, 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, Pete Stemkowski, Mike Walton.
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.