Game 526 – Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 1

Game 526
Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 1
Wednesday, February 19, 1969
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

The Montréal Canadiens blamed the referee but they conceded, grudgingly, that Maple Leafs goaltender Bruce Gamble had something to do with it.

The majority of the 16,485 viewers in Maple Leaf Gardens last night will testify that Gamble had everything to do with it.

He stopped 40 shots, a great many with a swiftness he has seldom demonstrated, as the Leafs disillusioned the Canadiens with a 5-1 win.

Gamble may have played better games in this National Hockey League season but Leafs biographers couldn’t recall any. The same teams play again tonight in the Montréal Forum.

The Canadiens lost for the first time in eight games and they also lost goalkeeper Gump Worsley. He was taken to the hospital for observation after suffering a head injury early in the first period.

Worsley was the victim of a collision caused by Montréal defenceman Jacques Laperrière. Laperrière cross-checked the Leafs’ Bob Pulford and Serge Savard, another Montréal defenceman, into the Canadiens goal area.

Worsley was ministered to on the ice for several minutes before he proceeded slowly to the dressing room. Rogatien Vachon replaced him. There had been no scoring at the time.

Laperrière received a penalty for cross-checking Pulford.

It was an exasperating game for many Canadiens, but especially Laperrière. He was victimized on two Toronto goals, when he couldn’t trap the puck around his ample feet.

The Canadiens, who should have had several goals in the first period but for Gamble’s excellence, took out their frustrations on referee Bob Sloan. They derided him on the ice, from the bench and, after the game was over, in the dressing room.

Sloan imposed 14 penalties, nine to the Canadiens, but the Montréal players drew five of the first six penalties. They also were tagged with two misconducts – one to Jean Béliveau, with about a minute left in the game. The Leafs’ Murray Oliver, who made several magnificent sprawls throughout the game, executed a splendid belly flopper after Béliveau flung him aside with a casual wave of his stick.

Sloan awarded Béliveau a minor for tripping. Béliveau extended his hand to the official but, with his usual elegant manners, Béliveau first removed his glove. That is when he got the misconduct.

Béliveau remonstrated with the referee in the first period, only to be ignored. Evidently in great agitation, Béliveau took his case to Leafs captain George Armstrong, engaging him in deep conversation. Armstrong listened patiently.

John Ferguson, a pugilistic left winger of the Canadiens, got their other misconduct in the first period. It was an extension of a minor he received for spearing Oliver, a mild-mannered fellow who seemed to infuriate the Canadiens.

Ferguson stalled after getting his minor, pawed at a few Leafs and finally wore out Sloan’s patience. Ferguson gave the impression he was looking for a fight, but he ignored Leafs defenceman Pat Quinn, who tugged at his sweater from behind two or three times. Although normally that is enough provocation to get Fergy swinging, he declined Quinn’s invitation.

Norm Ullman, Dave Keon, Bill Sutherland, Ron Ellis and Paul Henderson scored the Toronto goals. Bobby Rousseau scored for the Canadiens with little more than eight minutes left in the game. It was Rousseau’s 25th goal of the season and he picked the puck out of the net as a souvenir.

He said he wanted it for a personal reason, not because it was his 25th of the schedule. Observers thought he might want to have copies made of it for tonight’s game, just in case Gamble is just as competent again.

That might be too much to expect.

Gamble demoralized the Canadiens, principally in the first 10 minutes of the first period, but he kept frustrating them throughout the game.

Early in the game the Canadiens turned on the inorexable pressure that normally causes the opposition to flounder and then collapse. It worked on the Leafs too – all except Gamble.

His best of 15 first-period saves were on Jacques Lemaire, a vicious slap shot, and another one on Claude Provost on a breakaway.

In the second period he made superlative stops on Mickey Redmond twice, Yvan Cournoyer, Lemaire and Laperrière. Gamble also had a little luck with him. Ralph Backstrom and Savard hit goalposts and Savard missed an open net.

The Leafs scored two power-play goals and another when they had a player in the penalty box.

Ullman scored the game’s first goal. A shot by Mike Walton hit Harris. Ullman recovered the puck and fired it past Vachon.

The Canadiens were still dominating the Leafs at 11:27 of the second period when Keon broke away from a Montréal ganging attack and slapped a long shot past Vachon.

Sutherland recovered a pass off Bob Pulford’s skates and beat Vachon with a short shot. Ellis scored with a hard, short drive after the Montréal defence couldn’t get rid of a rolling puck.

Rousseau scored from short range in the third period. Henderson, who had squandered numerous scoring opportunities in recent games, drove a pass from Ellis past Vachon late in the game for the Leafs’ final goal.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, February 20, 1969

1st Period
TOR PEN – 03:21 – Pilote, hooking
MTL PEN – 09:29 – Ferguson, cross checking
MTL PEN – 13:51 – Laperrière, cross checking
TOR PP GOAL – 14:50 – Ullman (Walton, Ellis)
MTL PEN – 15:42 – Ferguson, spearing + misconduct
MTL PEN – 19:40 – Harris, slashing

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 09:38 – Pelyk, holding + misconduct
TOR SH GOAL – 11:27 – Keon (Oliver)
TOR GOAL – 14:17 – Sutherland (Pulford, Pilote)
MTL PEN – 17:55 – Harris, elbowing
TOR PP GOAL – 19:54 – Ellis (Ullman, Henderson)

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 01:12 – Backstrom, slashing
TOR PEN – 07:34 – Dorey, holding
MTL GOAL – 11:42 – Rousseau (Richard, Bordeleau)
TOR GOAL – 16:49 – Henderson (Ellis, Pilote)
TOR PEN – 17:32 – Sutherland, high sticking
MTL PEN – 18:59 – Béliveau, tripping + misconduct

TOR – Gamble (W, 40-41)
MTL – Worsley (5-5), Vachon (L, 25-30)

TOR – 11+15+9 = 35
MTL – 15+12+14 = 41

TOR Goaltenders: Johnny Bower, Bruce Gamble. Defence: Jim Dorey, Tim Horton, Mike Pelyk, Pierre Pilote, Pat Quinn. Forwards: George Armstrong (C), Ron Ellis, Paul Henderson, Dave Keon, Larry Mickey, Murray Oliver, Bob Pulford, Floyd Smith, Bill Sutherland, Norm Ullman, Mike Walton.
MTLGoaltenders: Rogatien Vachon, Gump Worsley. Defence: Ted Harris, Larry Hillman, Jacques Laperrière, Serge Savard, J.C. Tremblay. Forwards: Ralph Backstrom, Jean Béliveau (C), Christian Bordeleau, Yvan Cournoyer, Dick Duff, John Ferguson, Jacques Lemaire, Claude Provost, Mickey Redmond, Henri Richard, Bobby Rousseau.

TOR – 26-18-11 (.573)
MTL – 35-16-8 (.661)