Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 2
Wednesday, October 15, 1969
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario
Nobody was really disappointed except perhaps those speculators who had the Maple Leafs in the office hockey pool.
The Leafs weren’t expected to win and they didn’t, but they made an energetic effort that seemed to meet with the approval of 16,459 at the Gardens. The Leafs even had a one-goal lead with fewer than five minutes left in the game.
However, the Montréal Canadiens, who were drifting and dreaming most of the way, snapped out of it long enough to score a goal that gave them a 2-2 tie.
This was the opening game of the National Hockey League schedule in Toronto and it was like most opening games, loose, confusing and with an abundance of helter skelter skating. Sometimes there was more helter than skelter.
The 48th Highlanders pipe band, on hand for the ceremonial opening, gave a polite warning of what might happen. They played The Road To The Aisles but the fans wouldn’t take the hint. They stayed in their seats. At the end many of them were glad they did.
The Leafs, who had been portrayed as incredibly inept throughout a lengthy exhibition schedule, had moments of confusion but they managed to recover from many of them through their industrious skating.
They played with more zest and spirit than in many of their games last season. If they continue with this speedy, vigorous pace they should qualify for a playoff berth but more substantial evidence is needed than this one game.
Defence had been suspected as the Leafs’ major weakness and it was corroborated in this game although the Leafs didn’t pay for most of their mistakes. Several errors, which normally would result in goals or at least shots on goal, didn’t hurt the Leafs because the Canadiens weren’t as alert as they normally are.
Paul Henderson with the 100th goal of his career gave the Leafs a 2-1 lead near the halfway mark in the third period but it lasted for about five minutes. Ralph Backstrom tied the score for the Canadiens.
Brit Selby, one of the most vigorous skaters on the Toronto team, opened the scoring in the first period. Mickey Redmond tied it for the Canadiens.
There was no scoring in the second period but there was a great deal of superfluous skating.
The Leafs were outshot by the Canadiens 40-34 but the toughest stops throughout the game were made by Rogatien Vachon, the nimble Montréal goalie. He moved with incredible speed a few times to block shots that seemed to have him beaten.
Bruce Gamble, in the Leafs’ goal, withstood a few sieges in stoic style, but Redmond’s goal came off a fairly long shot and Backstrom fired his in on the short side, from a sharp angle, as Gamble dropped to the ice.
Tim Horton, the doughnut entrepreneur, played his first game for the Leafs since he ended his salary feud with management. For a guy who missed training camp he showed surprising stamina. He also showed long, tumbling locks, a contrast to the severe brushcut which he wore for a dozen or so years.
Mike Walton, on occasional spurts, Dave Keon, Selby and Bob Pulford were the most energetic Leaf forwards. Selby and Pulford also did a systematic job of killing penalties.
Henri Richard, the Canadiens’ phantom centre, was their most efficient player, at least for the first two periods. His floating power skating mesmerized the Leafs’ defence a few times. He set up Redmond’s goal.
Richard and most of the Canadiens didn’t have their usual traveling ease in the third period. Richard, of course, had a reason. He used up some extra energy punching out Toronto defenceman Ricky Ley in the first period.
This was 22 seconds after the game started and created a false impression it was going to be another in a series of Montréal-Toronto slugfests. There were a few rude body-checks after that, nothing else of an uncivil nature.
Selby scored his first goal of the season with the help of Walton and defenceman Jim Dorey. Walton took Dorey’s pass, carried down the ice and left the puck for Selby a few feet inside the Montréal blue line. Selby lashed a shot and the puck glanced into the net off Vachon’s glove.
Richard stamped a pass on Redmond’s stick at the Toronto blue line. Redmond skated a few feet before firing a hard shot. The puck hit Gamble’s stick and deflected between his legs.
Henderson awakened the crowd in the third period with his go-ahead goal. He came out of the penalty box to score it. He had been confined there because the Leafs had too many players on the ice. Murray Oliver did most of the work, wobbling around Montréal defenceman Serge Savard and lateraling to Henderson in front of Vachon.
Backstrom took a pass from Christian Bordeleau to tie the score. Backstrom skated deep into the right corner in the Toronto zone. It looked as if he was too deep to attempt anything drastic but he pivoted sharply and drove the puck at Gamble. From that angle it seemed the puck would soar in front of the Toronto net but it hit the stumbling Gamble on the arm and deflected into the net.
Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, October 16, 1969
MTL PEN – 00:22 – Richard, fighting major
TOR PEN – 00:22 – Ley, fighting major + misconduct
TOR GOAL – 08:06 – Selby (Walton, Dorey)
MTL PEN – 09:38 – Harris, holding
MTL PEN – 11:34 – Laperrière, holding
MTL GOAL – 14:48 – Redmond (Richard, Tremblay)
TOR PEN – 15:09 – Walton, holding
TOR PEN – 18:04 – Ellis, elbowing
TOR PEN – 05:04 – Smith, hooking
MTL PEN – 19:47 – Laperrière, roughing
TOR PEN – 19:47 – Pulford, roughing
MTL PEN – 06:10 – Laperrière, hooking
TOR PEN – 08:03 – team, too many men on the ice
TOR GOAL – 10:26 – Henderson (Oliver)
TOR PEN – 13:06 – Ullman, tripping
MTL GOAL – 15:44 – Backstrom (Bordeleau, Harris)
TOR PEN – 18:55 – Ley, slashing
TOR – Gamble (T, 38-40)
MTL – Vachon (T, 32-34)
SHOTS ON GOAL
TOR – 15+9+10 = 34
MTL – 17+10+13 = 40
TOR – Goaltenders: Marv Edwards, Bruce Gamble. Defence: Jim Dorey, Brian Glennie, Tim Horton, Rick Ley, Jim McKenny, Pat Quinn. Forwards: Wayne Carleton, Ron Ellis, Paul Henderson, Dave Keon (C), Murray Oliver, Bob Pulford, Brit Selby, Floyd Smith, Norm Ullman, Mike Walton.
MTL – Goaltenders: Rogatien Vachon, Gump Worsley. Defence: Terry Harper, Ted Harris, Jacques Laperrière, Serge Savard, J.C. Tremblay. Forwards: Ralph Backstrom, Jean Béliveau (C), Christian Bordeleau, Yvan Cournoyer, Réjean Houle, Jacques Lemaire, Claude Provost, Mickey Redmond, Henri Richard, Bobby Rousseau, Marc Tardif.
TOR – 0-1-1 (.250)
MTL – 1-0-1 (.750)
⭐ Brit Selby (TOR)
⭐⭐ Ralph Backstrom (MTL)
⭐⭐⭐ Paul Henderson (TOR)