Game 516 – Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 2

Game 516
Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 2
Wednesday, December 27, 1967
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

It took Jean Béliveau and Danny Grant 91 seconds to undo something the Maple Leafs needed almost 52 minutes to accomplish.

They batted in goals past Johnny Bower late in the third period to enable the Montréal Canadiens to tie Toronto 2-2 last night in a National Hockey League game before a crowd of 15,091 at Maple Leaf Gardens.

Until the 21-year-old rookie from Fredericton, N.B., scored at 16:13 it appeared the Leafs and Bower were headed for their second shutout on home ice against the Canadiens.

The Leafs had counted twice in the period to break the goalless tie. George Armstrong connected early in the period and Pete Stemkowski scored from a sharp angle to put the game seemingly out of reach for a Montréal team that was weakened by the loss of key personnel.

The Canadiens started without Ralph Backstrom and Yvan Cournoyer and lost centre Henri Richard in the first period when he injured his left knee when checked by the Leafs’ Tim Horton.

However, the Canadiens held the Leafs goalless for two periods before the persistent Leaf attack finally paid off in the 2-0 lead.

A crack appeared in the Leaf armor at 16:03, however when the Canadiens’ rookie line of Grant, Jacques Lemaire and Mickey Redmond wheeled into the Leaf zone.

Lemaire drove a shot that Bower blocked. The puck rebounded to Grant and the kid from the Maritimes hit the far corner. The score was 2-1, but the Leafs showed no signs of buckling under the Habitant attack, which suddenly was inspired.

It was the Habs’ brilliant centre, Béliveau, who made amends for spoiling an earlier opporunity when his shot toward an open goal was blocked by Bower.

However, the Canadiens’ rugged John Ferguson, who started the game on the bench, was the man who made the goal possible when he checked the puck away from Stemkowski in the Leaf zone.

The big centre was slow getting the puck out of his own end and Ferguson crowded him, knocking the puck loose. Claude Provost pounced on it as the Leafs were caught breaking out of their own end and fed it to Béliveau in front of Bower.

Béliveau whacked a shot at Bower that hit the Leaf goalie and bounced over him into the net at 17:44.

This was a splendid contest, with both teams going all out at times seeking the first goal, which looked as if it would never come. Erratic shooting, spectacular goaltending or ill luck worked against both teams’ marksmen.

The Leafs and Canadiens squandered a dozen excellent opportunities from close range or on drives from the point that had goalies Bower and Gump Worsley beaten if the shots had been on target.

Worsley was saved the embarrassment of permitting a goal from about 90 feet out in the first period when he lost the direction of Horton’s drive after deflecting it up into the air over his head.

The puck fell behind Worsley in the crease and rolled slowly toward the open net as the pudgy goaltender desperately looked around for the puck but refused to move his skates backwards for fear he might knock it.

The puck finally came to a rest on the red line before J.C. Tremblay, possibly Montréal’s best player, pushed it out of the crease and to safety.

Bower, who earlier had halted Provost on a breakaway, delighted the crowd with an almost unbelievable recovery on Béliveau in the second period.

Provost, for the second time in the game, sped in alone on the Leaf goalie but was outguessed when Bower came well out of his net to block his shot. However, the rebound slid to Béliveau and the big centre fired quickly. Bower, who was lying on the ice, put up his stick and luckily deflected the shot.

Armstrong, who had opened the scoring for the Leafs in their past two games, broke the tie when he whacked in a 10-foot drive at 4:05 after linemates Dave Keon and Frank Mahovlich had outfought the Canadiens for the puck behind the goal.

The goal was Army’s 10th, one more than he scored all last season.

At 11:30 Stemkowski scored from an almost impossible angle. His hard shot wiggled its way between a tiny opening between the post and Worsley’s right pad.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, December 28, 1967

1st Period
TOR PEN – 03:34 – Stemkowski, elbowing
MTL PEN – 09:14 – Grant, interference
MTL PEN – 13:56 – Harper, high sticking
TOR PEN – 15:48 – Stemkowski, elbowing
MTL PEN – 18:14 – Vadnais, high sticking
TOR PEN – 19:44 – Mahovlich, cross checking

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 05:57 – Horton, high sticking
MTL PEN – 05:57 – Ferguson, high sticking
MTL PEN – 16:17 – Ferguson, interference

3rd Period
TOR GOAL – 04:05 – Armstrong (Keon, Mahovlich)
MTL PEN – 08:26 – Harper, roughing
TOR PEN – 08:26 – Mahovlich, roughing
TOR GOAL – 11:20 – Stemkowski (Pappin)
MTL GOAL – 16:13 – Grant (Lemaire, Harris)
MTL GOAL – 17:44 – Béliveau (Provost)

TOR – Bower (T, 32-34)
MTL – Worsley (T, 29-31)

TOR – 13+12+6 = 31
MTL – 12+8+14 = 34

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

TOR – 16-11-6 (.576)
MTL – 12-14-8 (.471)