Playoff Game 60 – Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 2 (2OT)

Playoff Game 60
Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 2 (2OT)
Stanley Cup Finals, Game 3
Tuesday, April 25, 1967
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Bob Pulford has been one of the Maple Leafs’ most industrious players in the Stanley Cup playoffs but he hasn’t been scoring goals.

He made up for that little oversight at the Gardens last night.

He scored at 8:26 of the second overtime period to give the Leafs a 3-2 win over the Montréal Canadiens and a 2-1 lead in the Stanley Cup final.

The fourth game will be played in Toronto tomorrow night.

The Canadiens will probably demand to see films of the game before they convince themselves that the Leafs won and that Johnny Bower actually stopped all their shots through a pressure-laden third period and 28 minutes and 26 seconds of overtime.

The Canadiens, outplayed and outmuscled throughout the second period, recovered to dominate the game in the third period and again in the first overtime.

But Bower, making one unbelievable stop after another, frustrated them so completely that the Canadiens simply ran out of stamina and desire.

They skated on wobbly legs in the second overtime while the Leafs, who appeared to be reeling in fatigue in the first overtime, inexplicably came back with a fresh load of energy.

Rogatien Vachon, the Canadiens unorthodox rookie goalie, convinced the crowd of 15,977 that disparaging remarks about his competence by Leafs coach George Imlach and others are unadulterated libel.

Vachon didn’t need to make so many dramatic stops as Bower because the Leafs had great difficulty in putting a finishing touch on their plays. But he stopped enough pucks, almost with a nonchalant flair, to prove he belongs.

Each goaltender faced 30 shots in overtime, but the Canadiens especially, in the early minutes of the first overtime, had an unbelievable monopoly of the puck.

Only Bower didn’t notice.

The Leafs, after their uneasy survival in the first overtime, came out refreshed for the second extra session and the sagging Canadiens didn’t get a shot on goal until 3:27. Vachon had made four stops before that.

Pete Stemkowski, the indefatigable workhorse started the play for the winning goal when he won a faceoff in the Montréal zone. On the backboards, almost behind Vachon, he threw out a pass to Jim Pappin in the right faceoff circle. Pappin slid a lateral to Pulford, parked in front of the net, and he swiped the puck past Vachon before the Montréal goalie could make a move. It was Pulford’s first goal of the playoffs.

The Pappin-Stemkowski-Pulford line, the Leafs’ most prominent in the playoffs, produced all three goals. Pappin and Stemkowski scored the first two, the fifth of the series for each.

Jean Béliveau and John Ferguson scored for Montréal.

Béliveau’s goal, on a power play, gave the Canadiens the lead early in the first period but Stemkowski, also on a power play, tied it for the Leafs in six minutes. Pappin sent the Leafs ahead halfway through the second period, with each team playing a man short.

The Leafs played their most robust hockey of the game after they took the lead, rocking the Canadiens with heavy checks and continually putting pressure on Vachon without getting many cleancut shots.

The Canadiens not only withstood the assault but tied the score with Ferguson, bogeyman to the Leafs, beating Bower with 50 seconds left in the second period.

Ferguson, who prowled around the Toronto net all night and had a couple of clashes with Bower, poked the puck loose from Stemkowski. Bower, who had permitted himself a moment of relaxation, exposed about a foot of space on the near post and Ferguson drove the puck into this inviting target.

It seemed absurd that this goal should inflame the Canadiens and cause an acute relapse by the Leafs but that is what happened. The Canadiens, more polished and energetic, poured it on for the next 40 minutes but Bower held them together until they tapped a hidden source of energy.

This was a tough, sometimes nasty game with the close checking sending most players to feats of self-discipline they had seldom reached before. Some didn’t bother.

In the second period, Brian Conacher slugged Claude Larose with an overhand right. Larose’s knees buckled and the linesmen saved him from falling.

Larose tried to continue the fight and even received some assistance from the linesmen who were grappling with Conacher but it descended to a sit-down wrestling match.

Larose needed seven stitches to close a cut on his forehead.

Henri Richard, the Canadiens’ perpetual-motion centre, was knocked out a couple of minutes before Pulford scored the winning goal. Barely moving through weariness as a result of playing on two lines in the overtime, Richard was felled by Allan Stanley with a brutal bodycheck. Richard was treated on the ice and helped to the bench.

Coach Toe Blake used all his reserves, trying to wear the Leafs down with fresh legs. The Canadiens went with four lines in the first period. Blake rested players like Léon Rochefort and Dave Balon in the latter part of the game, but he sent them out again in overtime.

The Leafs started and ended with the same lineup. Their reserve strength, consisting of Bobby Baun, Milan Marcetta and Eddie Shack was on the bench for most of the game, although Baun and Shack played a couple of shifts.

Overtime is frowned on by National Hockey League statesmen because it is supposed to produce dull hockey, but that argument was exposed in this game.

The overtime was the most flamboyant, entertaining hockey of the night. The Leafs didn’t get a shot at Vachon until almost six minutes had expired, while Bower kept hurling back shots from J.C. Tremblay, Bobby Rousseau, Jacques Laperrière and Ferguson. Dick Duff skated right in to Bower’s crease and twice cuffed the puck, but each time Bower moved to smother the shot. The final exasperation came for the Canadiens when Gilles Tremblay hit the goalpost on a two-on-one break with Ralph Backstrom.

The Leafs started to come back late in the first overtime and Vachon made fine saves on Stemkowski and later on Frank Mahovlich and Dave Keon.

Perhaps the vigorous overtime performance was created by John Ashley. He gave total pardon to all lawbreakers in the extra play.

In the only other overtime game of this year’s playoffs, the Canadiens won in New York to knock the Rangers out of the semi-final.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, April 26, 1967

1st Period
TOR PEN – 01:13 – Horton, interference
MTL PP GOAL – 02:27 – Béliveau (Rousseau, Duff)
MTL PEN – 08:04 – Ferguson, interference
TOR PP GOAL – 08:39 – Stemkowski (Hillman, Pappin)
TOR PEN – 09:27 – Bower, tripping
MTL PEN – 13:52 – Larose, slashing
TOR PEN – 15:57 – Mahovlich, tripping

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 02:31 – Stanley, tripping
MTL PEN – 06:10 – Larose, high sticking
TOR PEN – 06:10 – Conacher, fighting major
TOR PEN – 06:38 – Shack, high sticking
MTL PEN – 06:38 – Cournoyer, high sticking
TOR GOAL – 10:34 – Pappin (Horton, Pulford)
MTL PEN – 16:17 – Duff, interference
MTL GOAL – 19:10 – Ferguson (Béliveau)
TOR PEN – 19:32 – Mahovlich, cross checking
MTL PEN – 19:32 – Béliveau, charging

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 03:23 – Ferguson, hooking


2nd Overtime
TOR GOAL – 08:26 – Pulford (Stemkowski, Pappin)

TOR – Bower (W, 61-63)
MTL – Vachon (L, 51-54)

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, Eddie Shack, 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.