Game 523 – Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 3

Game 523
Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 3
Thursday, November 14, 1968
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

Five goals!

The fans back home wouldn’t believe it possible of the scoreless wonders.

But it actually happened and right here in the renovated Forum last night when the Toronto Maple Leafs thumped the Montréal Canadiens 5-3.

The Leafs, who seldom score more than two goals a game, struck for four goals in the second period to upset a haughty Montréal team which perhaps was still thinking about its 5-0 win in Maple Leaf Gardens two weeks ago.

There was no resemblance between that Leaf team and the one that challenged the Habitants before a noisy and at times disgruntled audience of 17,953.

They didn’t like the way the Leafs manhandled some of their aces, namely Ralph Backstrom, Jacques Lemaire and Bobby Rousseau.

The Leafs’ formula for success was an old one – hit, hit and hit some more.

The Leafs did that in their most robust display of the season. King Clancy, Toronto’s assistant manager and chief statistician of hits, reported a season high of 67.

Tim Horton, chosen the games number one star, was the chief assassin. He might not have had the most hits, but he certainly had the most telling and the crowd didn’t like it.

Late in the first period he collided with Backstrom, who was attempting to push Horton into the boards. Horton affixed a bear-like hug around Backstrom and flung him to the ice like a sack of flour.

Backstrom bounced a couple of times and, after he checked to make sure all his parts were still intact, he discovered he could hardly stand.

The body slam that would have made Gene Kiniski proud took its toll as Backstrom suffered a twisted knee. He came back in the second period but with less vigour, considerably less.

The Leafs authority increased as Mike Pelyk, Jim Dorey and Marcel Pronovost began hammering away.

It easily was Pelyk’s best performance of the season as he and Pronovost played like a team for the first time.

The Leafs received spectacular goaltending from Bruce Gamble, who faced 42 shots and made some saves that bordered on the unbelievable. He couldn’t be faulted on Montréal’s goals, two by Yvan Cournoyer and one by Jacques Lemaire.

However, as robust as was the Leaf hitting and forechecking and Gamble’s strong play, the five goals were remarkable.

They were by Mike Walton, Norm Ullman, Paul Henderson, Wayne Carleton and Murray Oliver.

Last season in five games here, the Leafs scored only three goals while losing four times and tying once.

The goals by Walton and Ullman came on power plays, matching the Leafs’ total output with a man advantage in their first 12 games.

The Leafs, with the best road record in the league (five wins in six starts), went ahead 1-0 on Walton’s sizzling high drive at 2:25 while Jean Béliveau was off. The Canadiens retaliated with Pelyk off at 5:52 when Cournoyer deflected Rousseau’s shot past Gamble, who was screened.

Carleton’s first goal of the season from a goalmouth scramble made it 2-1 early in the second period. The Canadiens came back to tie it again when Cournoyer knocked his rebound out of the air past Gamble. The goalie had blocked Cournoyer’s breakaway attempt but was unable to stop the second shot.

Then came a penalty to Serge Savard and 19 seconds later the Leafs were in front 4-2. Ullman beat Rogatien Vachon with a slider in the short side and 10 seconds later Henderson backhanded a drive from the faceoff circle. Vachon fanned on it.

Close checking by Dave Keon set up Oliver for his goal when J.C. Tremblay gave the puck away and Oliver quickly rapped it between Vachon’s legs.

Lemaire’s deflected shot at 14:33 inspired the Canadiens for a few minutes but there was no way they were going to beat this determined Toronto team.

The Leafs played without defenceman Pierre Pilote, who, because of an injured knee, didn’t make the trip. His place in the lineup was taken by Jim McKenny, who arrived at 5 o’clock from Rochester. McKenny took four shifts up on right wing in the final period.

The forechecking of Ullman – Henderson – Smith and the Keon – Oliver – Ellis lines was impressive. The KOE pressured the Béliveau line so much that coach Claude Ruel finally switched his combinations around to get Jean Béliveau away from Keon.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, November 15, 1968

1st Period
MTL PEN – 02:11 – Béliveau, high sticking
TOR PP GOAL – 02:25 – Walton (Horton)
TOR PEN – 04:37 – Pelyk, elbowing
MTL PP GOAL – 05:52 – Cournoyer (Rousseau, J. Tremblay)
MTL PEN – 09:29 – Harris, holding
TOR PEN – 18:23 – Dorey, high sticking

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 03:39 – Carleton (Mickey, Dorey)
MTL GOAL – 10:35 – Cournoyer (Béliveau, G. Tremblay)
MTL PEN – 11:28 – Savard, high sticking
TOR PP GOAL – 11:37 – Ullman (Henderson)
TOR GOAL – 11:47 – Henderson (Smith, Pelyk)
TOR GOAL – 14:43 – Oliver
TOR PEN – 18:57 – Pelyk, cross checking

3rd Period
MTL GOAL – 14:33 – Lemaire (Laperrière, Duff)

TOR – Gamble (W, 39-42)
MTL – Vachon (L, 28-33)

TOR – 9+14+10 = 33
MTL – 9+20+13 = 42

TOR Goaltenders: Johnny Bower, Bruce Gamble. Defence: Jim Dorey, Tim Horton, Jim McKenny, Mike Pelyk, Marcel Pronovost. Forwards: Wayne Carleton, Ron Ellis, Paul Henderson, Dave Keon, Larry Mickey, Murray Oliver, Bob Pulford, Floyd Smith, Norm Ullman, Mike Walton.
MTLGoaltenders: Rogatien Vachon, Gump Worsley. Defence: Terry Harper, 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, Bobby Rousseau, Gilles Tremblay.

TOR – 7-4-2 (.615)
MTL – 9-3-2 (.714)