Game 522 – Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 0

Game 522
Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 0
Wednesday, October 30, 1968
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

The Toronto Maple Leafs gave the puck away in their own zone five times in the first 90 seconds at Maple Leaf Gardens last night.

After that things got worse as the Montréal Canadiens jumped on Leaf errors and turned them into goals as they coasted to a one-sided 5-0 National Hockey League victory.

It was a sweet triumph for the Stanley Cup champions, who return to their renovated Forum today with a sparkling record of six victories and a tie in eight road games.

This was a game that was foolishly billed as contest for first place.

It wasn’t a close match for long as the Canadiens immediately stamped themselves superior in overpowering a nervous, bewildered Leaf team.

Seldom has a Leaf team been so dominated on home ice by the Canadiens.

The Habs came out flying and they rammed the puck down the Leafs’ throats at every opportunity with an awesome display of coolness and superior manpower.

The Habs treated the Leafs like an expansion team in going ahead 1-0 in the first 20 minutes and 3-0 after two periods.

The Leafs’ attempts to spoil goalie Rogatien Vachon’s shutout were futile as he out-guessed them on every opportunity.

You should have felt some sympathy for Leaf goaltender John Bower. He was subjected to a pitiful display by his defenders.

The first two Canadien goals were set up on almost identical plays as first Yvan Cournoyer, and then Jacques Lemaire, sneaked in behind the Leaf defence to take long lead passes from defenceman Serge Savard. They cruised in without an obstructing body in their way.

Rookie Jim Dorey, obviously jittery in his first start against the champs, was partially responsible for both goals as he and his partner Tim Horton were trapped.

Gilles Tremblay’s goal was a gift from another Leaf rookie defenceman, Mike Pelyk, who put the puck on Cournoyer’s stick deep in the Toronto zone.

Bower erred on John Ferguson’s goal as he missed a puck that rebounded off the backboards and big Fergy promptly pumped it upstairs.

Lemaire added his second goal, a sizzling slap shot from just inside the blueline to make it 5-0.

Coach Punch Imlach knew there would be nights like this as he attempts to break in three young defencemen.

Surprisingly enough, it was 19-year-old Rick Ley, who wasn’t supposed to be with the Leafs when the season opened, who was the best of the young defencemen. Each game he has been getting more ice time and could soon be a regular.

The Leaf rookies weren’t the only ones guilty of misplays.

Ralph Backstrom fooled Marcel Pronovost along the boards in the first period but Bower came up with a big save to prevent a goal.

Pronovost later came back to prevent two goals as he blocked drives toward an open net when Bower was caught out of position during a Hab power play.

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

1st Period
TOR PEN – 03:34 – Horton, tripping
MTL PEN – 04:05 – Duff, tripping
MTL GOAL – 09:46 – Cournoyer (Savard)
MTL PEN – 13:55 – Rousseau, high sticking
MTL PEN – 17:18 – Béliveau, holding

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 01:27 – Lemaire (Savard, J. Tremblay)
TOR PEN – 06:24 – Pelyk, holding
MTL GOAL – 12:35 – G. Tremblay (Cournoyer)

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 00:24 – Dorey, boarding
MTL PEN – 01:49 – Béliveau, high sticking + misconduct
MTL GOAL – 13:54 – Ferguson (Harper)
MTL GOAL – 16:44 – Lemaire (Duff)

MTL – Vachon (W + SO, 27-27)
TOR – Bower (L, 25-30)

MTLGoaltenders: Rogatien Vachon, Gump Worsley. Defence: Terry Harper, Ted Harris, Serge Savard, J.C. Tremblay. Forwards: Ralph Backstrom, Jean Béliveau (C), Yvan Cournoyer, Dick Duff, John Ferguson, Jacques Lemaire, Garry Monahan, Claude Provost, Mickey Redmond, Bobby Rousseau, Gilles Tremblay.
TOR Goaltenders: Johnny Bower, Al Smith. Defence: Jim Dorey, Tim Horton, Rick Ley, Mike Pelyk, Pierre Pilote, Marcel Pronovost. Forwards: Wayne Carleton, Ron Ellis, Paul Henderson, Dave Keon, Murray Oliver, Bob Pulford, Floyd Smith, Bill Sutherland, Norm Ullman, Mike Walton.

MTL – 6-1-1 (.813)
TOR – 4-2-1 (.643)