Game 518 – Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 0

Game 518
Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 0
Tuesday, January 30, 1968
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

Mention the Montréal Canadiens and the average hockey fan thinks of speed, colour and volatile action.

Often overlooked in the Canadiens’ success is simple, hard work. A great deal of the time this humdrum part of their game is provided by Claude Provost, an indefatigable right winger.

Provost has been surrounded by superstars in his 13 years with the Canadiens. They have attracted most of the applause and the endorsements. Provost has done most of the unglamorous work, checking, killing penalties and occasionally padding his part by scoring important goals.

In the Forum last night his first-period goal started the Canadiens on the way to a 3-0 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, a win that strengthened the Canadiens’ position in first place in the National Hockey League.

Provost scored his goal when the Leafs were executing a power play. He almost duplicated it again in the second period and Leafs coach George Imlach looked on with anxiety whenever one of the Montréal players went to the penalty box.

This was the Canadiens’ 10th successive win, something that hasn’t occurred in the NHL since the 1943-44 season when the Canadiens did it for the first time.

It was also the Canadiens’ 14th game without a defeat (two ties), a period of prosperity that has moved them from last place to first.

The Leafs could have moved into first place with a win. They were one point behind when the game started. They were behind by a much bigger margin in all three periods.

A crowd of 15,670 probably expected one of those pugnacious, slam-bang games that used to be commonplace between the Canadiens and Leafs even when first place was not at stake. If so they were disappointed.

Pete Stemkowski, Tim Horton, Bob Pulford and occasionally Larry Hillman checked resolutely but the Leafs, as a team, played with a considerate, restrained manner that seldom wins points for them. They went out of their way to avoid bumps and the Canadiens seemed to like it that way, too.

Jean Béliveau scored his 19th goal of the season in the second period and Yvan Cournoyer scored his 17th, on a power play, in the third period.

Rogatien Vachon, the Canadiens’ youthful goalie, has been commended by coach Toe Blake for his capable play in recent games. Only seven goals have been scored on Vachon in seven games.

He made a few difficult stops in blanking the Leafs, but normally shutouts are much more difficult to get. Vachon needed to stop only 19 shots, four in each of the last two periods.

Provost, who normally gets such unattractive jobs as checking Bobby Hull or Frank Mahovlich, scored his seventh goal of the season to get the Canadiens started. It was his 224th goal in 13 seasons, not bad for a fellow who is looked on as a defensive forward.

It was a faux pas by the Leafs’ Mike Walton that gave Provost his opportunity. Walton aimlessly jabbed the puck over the Montréal blueline directly to Jacques Laperrière. He dumped it into the centre zone and PRovost chugged away with it down the right wing. He cut in front of the Toronto net and fired a shot at Johnny Bower. When Bower was slow in clearing the rebound, Provost punched the puck into the net.

Béliveau picked up a drop pass from Cournoyer in the second period and beat Bower with a hard shot. Cournoyer’s goal was banked into the net off a prostrate Bower. He was lying in the crease after stopping a shot from Gilles Tremblay.

Bower was injured in the third period when he was hit on the chest by Serge Savard’s shot. Bruce Gamble replaced him for a couple of minutes. Bower returned after getting treatment in the dressing room.

Although the score was 3-0 coach George Imlach removed Bower with 1 minute and 6 seconds left in the game. The crowd booed but Vachon’s shutout was safe. Bower had to return for a faceoff outside the Montréal zone but he departed again with 20 seconds left in the game.

The Canadiens played without defenceman Terry Harper who is suffering from a charley horse.

Centre Henri Richard, who has been out for three weeks with recurring knee injuries, returned for this one but he played only two shifts.

Until the third period, the Leafs played Walton and Jim Pappin only on power plays. In the third period they were on a line with Pulford and later on one with Mahovlich.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, January 31, 1968

1st Period
MTL PEN – 01:54 – Ferguson, hooking
MTL SH GOAL – 03:03 – Provost (Laperrière)

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 05:40 – Stemkowski, hooking
TOR PEN – 06:45 – Rupp, hooking
MTL PEN – 08:47 – Laperrière, interference
MTL GOAL – 13:55 – Béliveau (Cournoyer, Savard)
MTL PEN – 19:14 – Backstrom, interference
MTL PEN – 19:14 – Laperrière, misconduct

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 04:51 – Horton, holding
MTL PP GOAL – 06:17 – Cournoyer (G. Tremblay, Rousseau)
MTL PEN – 12:00 – Savard, high sticking

MTL – Vachon (W + SO, 19-19)
TOR – Bower (L, 26-29), Gamble (1-1)

MTL – 7+12+11 = 30
TOR – 11+4+4 = 19

MTLGoaltenders: Rogatien Vachon, Gump Worsley. Defence: Ted Harris, Jacques Laperrière, Serge Savard, J.C. Tremblay. Forwards: Ralph Backstrom, Jean Béliveau (C), Yvan Cournoyer, Dick Duff, John Ferguson, 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, Allan Stanley. 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 – 24-14-9 (.606)
TOR – 23-17-8 (.563)