Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 2
Wednesday, February 14, 1968
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario
The Montréal Canadiens won a hockey game at the Gardens last night because of their superior body attack.
No, they didn’t beat the slumping Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 by slamming the losers to the ice with bruising body checks.
The Canadiens were much more subtle than that. Twice they got their bodies in front of shots and deflected the puck past a surprised goalie Johnny Bower, who was powerless to prevent the scores.
Bower was also in no position to block the fourth goal, which went into an open net.
The Leafs, in losing a game they twice came from behind to tie, have now lost five in a row and have only one win in their past 10 games.
The fast-moving Canadiens, who seem headed for a National Hockey League championship, have won 18 of their past 21 games. There is only one loss in this string.
Demonstrating that the body is more powerful than the stick, the Canadiens scored the winner at 13:50 of the final period when Claude Provost’s rebound hit John Ferguson’s leg and the puck flipped into the net.
Bower was unable to prevent the goal because Provost was lying on top of him after charging into the crease.
The Canadiens’ first goal, by Henri Richard in the first period, also was tainted. It skidded into the Leaf goal off Richard’s glove.
Richard was standing just off the goal crease and was struck by Bob Rousseau’s passout from the corner.
There was nothing fluky about the Canadiens’ other goal, a 25-foot blast by Terry Harper in the second period which put the Canadiens ahead 2-1.
Defeat must have been galling for the Leafs, who can’t do anything right, even at home. Returning after a losing road trip, they dropped their third game in a row at the Gardens.
Twice they overcame one-goal margins held by the Canadiens and for a time in the third period it appeared they might even go ahead.
They didn’t let Richard’s surprise score upset them. Thirty-two seconds later they tied the game at 1-1 when Frank Mahovlich whipped a 25-foot backhander past Rogatien Vachon.
It was “The Big M”‘s 19th goal of the season and was set up by George Armstrong and Dave Keon, who hurtled about the Hab zone to prevent the puck from escaping over the blueline.
The goal didn’t prevent coach Punch Imlach from benching Mahovlich in the final period.
Imlach replaced “The Big M” with one of his bench brigade, 23-goal scorer Mike Walton, and Shakey responded immediately with a goal to tie the score 2-2.
He pumped in Marcel Pronovost’s rebound with a sizzling 20-foot drive to the corner of the net at 3:45.
The Leafs had their chances after tying the game. Walton broke in on the Montréal goal and shot wide. Then Ron Ellis, a standout two-way performer, bounced a drive off Vachon’s shoulder.
But then came Ferguson’s goal and the Canadiens were content to protect Vachon after that. They almost let the Leafs tie it when Ellis slipped in with Murray Oliver’s pass but Vachon blocked the shot. Jacques Laperrière dived into the crease and cradled the puck before shoving it to Vachon.
Vachon, playing like the nerveless goalie who almost led the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup last spring, was at his best when the traffic was jammed around his net or when confronted with a soloing Leaf.
He blocked Pete Stemkowski on a breakaway and took two goals away from Ellis.
The Canadiens were by far the better team. It was the way they won that was frustrating for the 16,095 on hand to welcome the Leafs home.
The Leafs were handicapped without defenceman Tim Horton, who is recuperating from a severe charley horse injury to his left leg. He has missed the Leafs’ past four games.
Although Marcel Pronovost was the Leafs’ best defenceman, he and his partner Larry Hillman were on the ice for the first three Hab goals. But then, how do you defend against deflections?
The Leafs used Mike Pelyk with veteran Allan Stanley and the rookie defenceman showed a great amount of poise under pressure. He is the best of the newcomers to join the Leafs since the demotion of Brian Conacher and Jim Papin. The Leafs’ fifth defenceman Duane Rupp was on the bench for most of the game.
The Béliveau, Yvan Cournoyer, Gilles Tremblay line at times overpowered the Leafs. It was fitting that big Jean scored the final goal after a solid two-way performance that earned him the No. 1 star honuor ahead of Keon and Vachon.
Referee John Ashley called only three penalties, a minor to Pelyk and majors to Hillman and Ferguson for fighting in the first period.
Hillman, who won a decision last season against Ferguson, appeared to get the worst in the brief scrap. Ferguson got the first two punches, both uppercuts, before the linesmen moved in.
Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, February 15, 1968
MTL GOAL – 08:11 – Richard (Rousseau, Harper)
TOR GOAL – 08:43 – Mahovlich (Keon, Armstrong)
MTL PEN – 16:00 – Ferguson, fighting major
TOR PEN – 16:00 – Hillman, fighting major
MTL GOAL – 11:26 – Harper (Cournoyer, Béliveau)
TOR PEN – 16:24 – Pelyk, hooking
TOR GOAL – 03:45 – Walton (Pronovost, Armstrong)
MTL GOAL – 13:50 – Ferguson (Provost, Laperrière)
MTL EN GOAL – 19:46 – Béliveau (Lemaire, Provost)
MTL – Vachon (W, 32-34)
TOR – Bower (L, 31-34)
SHOTS ON GOAL
MTL – 14+10+11 = 35
TOR – 11+12+11 = 34
MTL – Goaltenders: Rogatien Vachon, Gump Worsley. Defence: Terry Harper, Ted Harris, Jacques Laperrière, J.C. Tremblay. Forwards: Ralph Backstrom, Jean Béliveau (C), Yvan Cournoyer, Dick Duff, John Ferguson, Jacques Lemaire, Claude Provost, Henri Richard, Bobby Rousseau, Gilles Tremblay.
TOR – Goaltenders: Johnny Bower, Bruce Gamble. Defence: Larry Hillman, Mike Pelyk, Marcel Pronovost, Duane Rupp, Allan Stanley. Forwards: George Armstrong (C), Wayne Carleton, Ron Ellis, Duke Harris, André Hinse, Dave Keon, Frank Mahovlich, Murray Oliver, Bob Pulford, Pete Stemkowski, Mike Walton.