Game 536 – Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 3

Game 536
Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 3
Sunday, March 15, 1970
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

The Leafs may be all but mathematically out of the playoffs, but if they continue to play out their schedule as they did over the weekend they could be the spoilers in determining the finish of the close NHL championship race.

They tied the Canadiens 3-3 yesterday after beating the Bruins 2-1 Saturday.

They have 10 games left, all against Eastern Division clubs. They play Chicago three times in 12 days; have two games against each Boston and New York, and one each against Detroit and Montréal. Only seven points separate those teams these morning.

In yesterday’s matinee at the Gardens Rogatien Vachon stopped 23 shots in a frantic third period but one that got away tormented him.

Vachon was mildly enraged because the Maple Leafs, who trailed 1-3 after the first period, came back to achieve a 3-3 tie. Ron Ellis scored the tying goal, his 30th of the season, with fewer than seven minutes left in the game.

This was the goal that infuriated Vachon, his coach Claude Ruel and the rest of the Canadiens. Judging by the prolonged cheering, however, it met with the wholehearted approval of most of the 16,485 fans.

It might not have been a goal if Vachon had stayed in his office in the Canadiens’ goal crease, but it was getting kind of dangerous in there. Also, his defencemen were having trouble clearing the puck. He decided to help out.

The Leafs’ Paul Henderson, on one of numerous Leaf flurries in this period, fired a long shot. The puck soared past the Canadiens’ goal and Vachon went after it. He was hoping to trap the puck behind the net.

However, the puck made the angle of incidence and refraction look like a U-turn. It bounced almost straight back in front of the Montréal goal.

Vachon showed incredible agility to scramble back in time to block a shot fired by Norm Ullman but he was lying on the ice when Ellis sped in to lift the puck over him into the net.

Although this was a tying goal and meant one point for the Leafs, it was a small rebate for a vigorous third period in which they had the Canadiens on the defensive most of the way.

The Canadiens, who haven’t had much experience in foraging for a playoff position this late in the schedule, are having trouble adapting to the challenge. They are struggling. They no longer have the infuriating poise which enabled them to assume puck control almost any time they wished. They have to scratch and scrape for every point just like other teams.

The Canadiens could refer to injuries as part of the reason for their relapse. Defenceman Serge Savard, forwards Claude Provost, Jacques Lemaire and Lucien Grenier were missing yesterday.

However, other Canadiens who have been prominent in recent seasons, were laboring. The Flying Frenchmen who scored their goals yesterday had such curious names as Pete Mahovlich, Larry Mickey and Ralph Backstrom.

Mickey and Mahovlich have been promoted from the Montréal Voyageurs of the American League. Mahovlich, who must have the longest reach in pro hockey, was the most efficient forward the Canadiens had.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, March 16, 1970

1st Period
TOR GOAL – 00:14 – Henderson (Ullman)
MTL PEN – 01:07 – Harris, charging
TOR PEN – 01:36 – Armstrong, hooking
MTL GOAL – 02:05 – Mahovlich (Richard, Laperrière)
TOR PEN – 03:23 – Ley, cross checking
TOR PEN – 10:25 – Ullman, holding
MTL PP GOAL – 10:53 – Mickey (Cournoyer, Béliveau)
TOR PEN – 15:54 – Glennie, hooking
MTL GOAL – 18:02 – Backstrom (Rousseau, Ferguson)

2nd Period
MTL PEN – 01:36 – Laperrière, holding
MTL PEN – 13:00 – Backstrom, interference
TOR PP GOAL – 13:12 – Keon (Smith, McKenny)

3rd Period
TOR GOAL – 13:19 – Ellis (Ullman, Henderson)
MTL PEN – 19:56 – Ferguson, high sticking

TOR – Gamble (T, 39-42)
MTL – Vachon (T, 46-49)

TOR – 14+11+24 = 49
MTL – 23+9+10 = 42

TORGoaltenders: Marv Edwards, Bruce Gamble. Defence: Brian Glennie, Rick Ley, Jim McKenny, Mike Pelyk, Pat Quinn. Forwards: George Armstrong, Terry Clancy, Ron Ellis, Paul Henderson, Dave Keon (C), Murray Oliver, Bob Pulford, Brit Selby, Floyd Smith, Norm Ullman.
MTLGoaltenders: Phil Myre, Rogatien Vachon. Defence: Jean Gauthier, Terry Harper, Ted Harris, Jacques Laperrière, J.C. Tremblay. Forwards: Ralph Backstrom, Jean Béliveau (C), Christian Bordeleau, Yvan Cournoyer, John Ferguson, Peter Mahovlich, Larry Mickey, Larry Pleau, Mickey Redmond, Henri Richard, Bobby Rousseau.

TOR – 27-27-12 (.500)
MTL – 33-19-14 (.606)