Game 528 – Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 3

Game 528
Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 3
Thursday, March 6, 1969
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

The Toronto Maple Leafs might have had a chance if one of the Montréal Canadiens had been confined to the penalty box for the entire game.

One major penalty imposed on the Canadiens by referee Bill Friday in the first period helped but, from a Toronto standpoint, it was insufficient.

When the teams played even it was no contest.

The Leafs took advantage of a major to Montréal defenceman Jacques Laperrière to score two power-play goals in the first period, but it was only a minor challenge to the Canadiens.

Led by Yvan Cournoyer with three goals, they stormed back for a 5-3 win and first place in the National Hockey League, one point ahead of the Boston Bruins. The Bruins, however, have two games in hand.

The Canadiens’ modest winning margin is misleading. The Leafs were thoroughly outplayed, especially in the third period when the Canadiens turned on a high speed offence that had all Leafs, except goalie Bruce Gamble, thoroughly confused and unable to cope with it.

Gamble, given only meagre protection from his gentle defence, played with his usual competence. He had a perilous job. The Canadiens fired 21 shots at him in the third period alone, 39 for the game. They scooted in and blazed away at him any time they wished, relaxing only when they became tired of shooting.

The Leafs’ defence is not the most mobile when confronted by speed. Last night the Canadiens generated such speed that the Leafs, for recognition purposes, would need to work from silhouettes.

The Leafs’ defence is supposed to make up in brawn and belligerence what it takes in finesse and some of the other refinements. This may be only another idle rumour.

The Leafs played with an anti-septic inoffensiveness but, most of the time, it probably wasn’t their fault. The Canadiens didn’t linger in one spot long enough to get together with the Leafs.

Gamble was removed from his goal with 2 minutes and 57 seconds left in the game. It was not immediately known if this was a strategic move on the part of Toronto coach Punch Imlach or a compassionate gesture to Gamble. Whatever the reason, it didn’t make any difference in the score.

Toronto players Murray Oliver and Tim Horton made alert stops in front of their abandoned net to prevent other Montréal goals. Gamble came back for the final 26 seconds.

Defenceman Ted Harris and left-winger Dick Duff scored Montréal’s other goals. Horton, Ron Ellis and Paul Henderson scored for Toronto.

Cournoyer, in his fifth NHL season, scored 28 goals last year, his best single-season production. His three last night gave him 39 this season in 64 games. It was the third time this year he has scored three goals, the second time against the Leafs. Two of his goals came on power plays.

The Leafs scored two goals in 24 seconds in the first period while Laperrière was serving time on one of those late-developing penalties that are becoming so popular in the NHL these days. One was called against the Leafs in Philadelphia last week.

Laperrière was fingered for slashing Floyd Smith. It took the referee a few seconds to assess the penalty, after he spotted Smith kneeling on the ice and defacing it with blood. Friday immediately gave Laperrière a major penalty and the crowd of 16,927 booed. Smith went to the Forum hospital to have repairs done over his right eye. He returned for one shift in the third period.

Horton beat Gump Worsley with a shot from the right point and Ellis, on a passing play with Oliver, worked in close to outshift the Montréal goalie for his score.

Norm Ullman should have made it 3-0 on the same power play. He broke through to find Worsley deserted. Ullman gave him all the usual moves but Gump wouldn’t go for the fakery. He blocked the shot.

The Canadiens, who didn’t get a shot on goal until 14:37 of the period, stepped up their offensive as soon as Laperrière returned. They had seven shots for the period but two were goals by Cournoyer.

He scored his first from a faceoff in the Toronto zone. Jean Béliveau didn’t win a clean draw but Cournoyer, who has catlike moves, spun into the circle and slapped a shot past Gamble. Béliveau passed the puck from the corner to Gamble’s right to set up Cournoyer’s second goal. Leaf defenceman Jim Dorey let the puck slide past him and Cournoyer jabbed it over the goal line.

Harris drove in a long screen shot in the second period but Henderson tied it for the Leafs, deflecting Horton’s shot past Worsley. Mike Walton, who did some useful checking at times for the Leafs, gave the puck to Horton.

The Leafs were groping at ghosts and finding nothing but frustration for the first few minutes of the third period until the Canadiens slowed their pace after scoring goals four and five.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, March 7, 1969

1st Period
TOR PEN – 05:23 – Horton, hooking
MTL PEN – 09:10 – Laperrière, slashing major
TOR PP GOAL – 10:53 – Horton (Oliver, Walton)
TOR PP GOAL – 11:17 – Ellis (Oliver, Horton)
TOR PEN – 13:56 – Horton, holding
MTL PP GOAL – 15:02 – Cournoyer (Béliveau)
MTL GOAL – 18:36 – Cournoyer (Béliveau)

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 04:00 – Harris (Richard, Tremblay)
TOR GOAL – 08:12 – Henderson (Horton, Walton)
MTL PEN – 14:26 – Harris, slashing
MTL PEN – 16:49 – Richard, holding

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 03:22 – Selby, interference
MTL PP GOAL – 04:12 – Cournoyer (Tremblay, Duff)
MTL GOAL – 05:25 – Duff (Béliveau, Tremblay)
TOR PEN – 19:34 – Kennedy, high sticking

MTL – Worsley (W, 26-29)
TOR – Gamble (L, 34-39)

MTL – 7+11+21 = 39
TOR – 11+10+8 = 29

MTLGoaltenders: Gump Worsley. Defence: Ted Harris, 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 Goaltenders: Bruce Gamble. Defence: Jim Dorey, Tim Horton, Rick Ley, Pierre Pilote, Pat Quinn. Forwards: George Armstrong (C), Ron Ellis, Paul Henderson, Forbes Kennedy, Dave Keon, Murray Oliver, Bob Pulford, Brit Selby, Floyd Smith, Norm Ullman, Mike Walton.

MTL – 40-17-8 (.677)
TOR – 29-22-13 (.555)