Game 515 – Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 0

Game 515
Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 0
Wednesday, December 20, 1967
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

Before last night’s 5-0 victory by Montréal over the Maple Leafs, the gossip around the Forum was that Dick Duff was fighting for his job with the Canadiens.

The 31-year-old left-winger was in trouble, spending more time on the bench in recent games and was not in uniform for two games.

On Saturday he was on the ice for only two shifts and the following night in Detroit was used mainly on power plays.

He had also been plagued by injuries for the second season in a row, missing games at the beginning of the 1967-68 season because of an injured knee.

The story was that Duff was battling a rookie, Danny Grant, for a regular’s position.

Last night coach Toe Blake decided to use Duff against his former teammates and bench Grant. Duff usually played well against the Leafs.

It was a judicious move by Blake because Duff played his best game in two seasons, scoring three goals in the Canadiens’ lopsided victory.

Duff was playing on a line with Henri Richard and Bobby Rousseau, a unit that had the Leafs completely mesmerized all night long as it darted in on goalies John Bower and Bruce Gamble as though they were practicing line rushes.

Surprisingly enough, the line looked as if they had been playing together for years but in truth was assembled before the game. It scored in its debut last night, when Duff beat Bower at 3:24 of the first period.

The trio amassed 11 points as Richard gained four assists and Rousseau had a goal and three assists. The Canadiens’ other goal was scored by Claude Provost.

Duff’s goals were his fifth, sixth and seventh in 22 games.

Gump Worsley turned in his third shutout of the season.

The Leafs, who have been shut out two games in a row and have only nine goals in their past eight road games, were never in this game.

They gave the puck away in the first minute when Brian Conacher made a bad pass in his own zone and they continued this type of play all evening.

They were skating at about half the speed of the Canadiens and except for a few players, did little hitting.

The Leafs used both goalies, with Bower being removed after the second period when the score was 4-0.

Mike Walton limped off the ice in the third period after crashing into Jacques Laperrière and didn’t return. The extent of his leg injury was not known.

The Leafs’ 17-goal scorer had a frustrating evening trying to stickhandle past the tenaciously checking Canadiens, who gave Worsley more protection in five minutes last night then they did in two periods last Sunday in Detroit.

Worsley, who was taken out after the Red Wings scored six goals, was far too sharp for a Leaf team that rarely threatened. Their sporadic attempts to spoil his shutout were calmly turned aside.

Worsley faced 27 shots. One of his best stops was on Frank Mahovlich in the first period when Big M broke in alone on Dave Keon’s pass.

Big M blasted from 20 feet but Worsley came out and blocked the drive.

The closest he came to losing his shutout occurred late in the game. Duane Rupp made a goalmouth pass to Murray Oliver, who replaced Walton. Oliver’s shot hit the crossbar.

The Leafs are still seeking their first goal in the Forum this season because they were shut out 1-0 by Worsley in their only other visit October 12.

Bower was not so sharp as he has been in other games this season but did make several remarkable saves, particularly against Jean Béliveau, Rousseau and Ted Harris.

Duff deflected Richard’s pass between Bower’s legs for his first goal. On his second he took the puck away from Tim Horton and passed to Richard. Duff then outmuscled Horton as he skated in on Bower to receive the puck back from Richard and tap it into the open goal.

Gamble surrendered Duff’s third score when the winger broke in alone and drove the puck between Gamble’s legs.

Another factor in the Leafs loss was the three successive penalties they were given late in the first period. They were shorthanded from 16:30 until 19:53 when Rousseau scored to make it 2-0 just as Marcel Pronovost returned to the ice. The Leafs were two men short at the time.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, December 21, 1967

1st Period
MTL GOAL – 03:24 – Duff (Richard, Rousseau)
TOR PEN – 16:30 – Horton, interference
TOR PEN – 17:51 – Pronovost, tripping
TOR PEN – 19:46 – team, too many men on the ice
MTL PP GOAL – 19:53 – Rousseau (Richard)

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 02:22 – Duff (Richard, Rousseau)
TOR PEN – 08:25 – Mahovlich, high sticking
MTL PEN – 08:25 – Harper, high sticking
MTL GOAL – 16:15 – Provost (G. Tremblay, Béliveau)

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 06:53 – Richard, hooking
MTL GOAL – 09:34 – Duff (Richard, Rousseau)
MTL PEN – 11:03 – Harper, hooking

MTL – Worsley (W + SO, 27-27)
TOR – Bower (L, 19-23), Gamble (10-11)

MTL – 15+8+11 = 34
TOR – 7+11+9 = 27

MTLGoaltenders: Rogatien Vachon, Gump Worsley. Defence: Terry Harper, Ted Harris, Jacques Laperrière, Serge Savard, J.C. Tremblay. Forwards: Ralph Backstrom, Jean Béliveau (C), Dick Duff, John Ferguson, Claude Larose, Jacques Lemaire, Claude Provost, Mickey Redmond, Henri Richard, Bobby Rousseau, Gilles Tremblay.
TORGoaltenders: Johnny Bower, Bruce Gamble. Defence: Larry Hillman, Tim Horton, Marcel Pronovost, Duane Rupp. Forwards: George Armstrong (C), Wayne Carleton, Brian Conacher, Ron Ellis, Dave Keon, Frank Mahovlich, Murray Oliver, Jim Pappin, Bob Pulford, Pete Stemkowski, Mike Walton.

MTL – 11-13-7 (.468)
TOR – 14-11-5 (.550)