Playoff Game 62 – Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 1

Playoff Game 62
Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 1
Stanley Cup Finals, Game 5
Saturday, April 29, 1967
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

The Montréal Canadiens might have expected more charitable donations from Terry Sawchuk in the Forum Saturday afternoon but he advised them early: “I only give at home.”

The game had barely started when the Canadiens’ speedy Ralph Backstrom flew down left wing, whirled in sharply on the Maple Leafs net and tried to fire the puck past the goalie.

Sawchuk made an improbable stop, the first of many, to disillusion a team that had lobbed pucks past him with nonchalant ease a couple of nights earlier in Toronto.

The Leafs, flabbergasted by the Canadiens’ speed and puck pursuit in the first few minutes, staggered away from that early siege for a 4-1 win and a 3-2 lead in the Stanley Cup final.

The Leafs can win the Cup, which has been the Canadiens property for the past two years, in the sixth game in Maple Leaf Gardens tomorrow night.

The Canadiens looked so dejected and so disorganized through the final two periods that a seventh game seems unlikely.

However, the character and the performance of each team has changed from game to game. The Leafs appeared to be nearing the end Thursday when they lost 6-2 and the press was preparing the last writes.

That was the game in which Sawchuk replaced Johnny Bower and was embarrassed several times when he reached for pucks that weren’t there. They were behind him.

The Canadiens were elated when they learned Sawchuk would be back for the sixth game but their elation was shortlived.

They thought a whirlwind start would unnerve him. It distracted some Leafs and stupefied others, but it made no impression on Sawchuk. He calmly concentrated on the puck, ignored the milling confusion in front of him and, as the Canadiens conceded afterward, won the game in those first, frantic minutes.

Sawchuk did concede one goal, to Léon Rochefort just past the six-minute mark, but the Leafs tied the score before the period ended. The Canadiens began to fold at that point and their disintegration was complete in the second period when the Leafs scored three more goals.

The Canadiens sent in Gump Worsley to replace Rogatien Vachon for the final period and the Leafs were solicitous of Worsley, who hasn’t tended goal since March 12. They fired a few shots at him to test his reflexes, but devoted most of the period to infuriating the Canadiens with close checking. This is a chore that the Leafs perform remarkably well once they get a lead.

Canadiens coach Toe Blake said that Worsley’s reinstatement was not meant as a reflection on Vachon, but there is little doubt that he intends to start Worsley tomorrow night.

Vachon made several fine saves, but he was beaten with two long shots and he left a delectable rebound for another Toronto goal.

“He was not sharp,” said Jacques Plante, a reliable authority on goalkeepers. “Two of the Toronto goals were from 40 feet out and on the ice. You shouldn’t get beaten on those kind.”

The Leafs’ long goals were scored by Jim Pappin and Marcel Pronovost. Brian Conacher and Dave Keon scored the others.

The Leafs’ win was again the product of a prodigious team effort, but they had such individual standouts as Sawchuk, Pronovost, Tim Horton, George Armstrong and, as usual, Keon. Red Kelly played his best game of the series.

Pronovost has been ploddingly efficient on defence throughout the playoffs. Saturday, he gave it something extra and his second-period goal, while the Leafs had a player in the penalty box, destroyed the Canadiens’ last shred of resistance.

The Leafs showed versatility in their scoring. They got one goal on their power play, one while they were shorthanded, one with both teams short and one of the standard variety.

Blake was suspected of having omniscient qualities several times during the season, and in the playoffs, when he formed instant lines that scored goals. It didn’t work in this game.

It occured to him in the second period that one of his most successful lines during the season against the Leafs was composed of Backstrom, Claude Larose and John Ferguson. Although they haven’t been playing as a unit in this series, Blake reunited them in the second period. In their first shift Backstrom had a fine scoring opportunity cancelled by Sawchuk and the ambitions of this line vanished.

The Canadiens’ speed and fast passing patterns baffled the Leafs early in the game but, principally because of Sawchuk, they produced only one goal.

Defenceman Allan Stanley, his motor idling, had the puck in the corner to Sawchuk’s left when Dick Duff swooped in and stole it from him. He slid a pass out in front and Rochefort slapped a shot that deflected off Horton into the net.

That was the only dividend from the Canadiens’ all-out blitzkrieg and their disappointment started to show. All of a sudden, it seemed, the Leafs weren’t being outskated.

They tied the score when Larose was in the penalty box for board checking. Pappin picked up a pass from Frank Mahovlich inside the Canadiens’ blue line. Vachon gave the impression he expected a shot on the right side and he skidded across too late as Pappin drove the puck along the ice, just inside the left goalpost.

Conacher gave the Leafs the lead early in the second period. In the Montréal zone Kelly tripped Béliveau, skated sedately in a half-circle until he was in position for a shot but Vachon kicked the puck out. Conacher plowed in from left wing and lifted the fat rebound into the Canadiens’ net.

Kelly was serving a rare penalty (for interference) when Pronovost rushed up left wing to beat Vachon, from near the point, with a low shot to the far side of the net. Bobby Rousseau and Yvan Cournoyer became tangled with each other along the boards, just inside the Leafs blueline. Conacher sprung the puck loose to Pronovost.

Keon’s goal was a reward for his remarkable persistence or, if you prefer, the carelessness of Canadiens defenceman J.C. Tremblay.

Tremblay was away from his post at the right point in the Leafs end when Jean Béliveau threw a pass his way. Tremblay recovered the puck in the neutral zone but Keon chased him back to the Montréal blueline and poked the puck away from him.

Keon then bobbed and weaved before finding a clear path for a pass to Horton on the right point. Horton’s shot was blocked by the defence but Keon pounced on the puck again, squirmed and twisted for a few feet and flicked a shot past Vachon, who was off balance.

Imlach sent out his reserves for the final minute and a strange line of Ed Shack, Milan Marcetta and Mike Walton almost scored on Worsley. Gump made a fine save on Walton’s shot.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, May 1, 1967; photo property of Reddit

1st Period
TOR PEN – 03:09 – Pappin, charging
MTL GOAL – 06:03 – Rochefort (Duff, Richard)
MTL PEN – 13:30 – Larose, boarding
TOR PP GOAL – 15:06 – Pappin (Keon, Mahovlich)
TOR PEN – 18:29 – Horton, interference

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 03:07 – Conacher (Kelly, Ellis)
MTL PEN – 06:54 – Ferguson, charging
TOR PEN – 11:40 – Kelly, interference
TOR SH GOAL – 12:02 – Pronovost
MTL PEN – 14:55 – Harris, elbowing
TOR PEN – 17:35 – Ellis, roughing
MTL PEN – 17:35 – Duff, roughing
TOR GOAL – 19:27 – Keon (Horton)

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 06:17 – Mahovlich, tripping

TOR – Sawchuk (W, 37-38)
MTL – Vachon (L, 15-19), Worsley (10-10)

TOR – 7+12+10 = 29
MTL – 13+13+12 = 38

TORGoaltenders: Terry Sawchuk, Al Smith. 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, Milan Marcetta, Jim Pappin, Bob Pulford, Eddie Shack, Pete Stemkowski, Mike Walton.
MTLGoaltenders: Rogatien Vachon, Lorne Worsley. Defence: Terry Harper, Ted Harris, Jacques Laperrière, Jim Roberts, Jean-Guy Talbot, J.C. Tremblay. Forwards: Ralph Backstrom, Jean Béliveau (C), Yvan Cournoyer, Dick Duff, John Ferguson, Claude Larose, Claude Provost, Henri Richard, Léon Rochefort, Bobby Rousseau, Gilles Tremblay.