Game 539 – Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 1

Game 539
Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 1
Thursday, November 19, 1970
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

Murray McLachlan’s first experience in the National Hockey League as a starting goaltender came last night, and it was terrible.

It was also brief.

The Montréal Canadiens were leading the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 at 13:24 of the first period when coach John McLellan replaced McLachlan with Bruce Gamble.

The Canadiens went on to a 5-1 win, which put them in first place in the NHL Eastern Division and left the Leafs in last place, behind the Buffalo Sabres.

“I had to do something in an effort to wake the team up,” McLellan said afterward, explaining his hunch in starting the 22-year-old.

McLachlan’s professional experience consisted of five games with the Tulsa Oilers and part of one period in relief of Gamble in Wednesday’s 7-2 loss to Buffalo.

McLachlan was called up from Tulsa, a Toronto affiliate, to understudy Gamble after Jacques Plante was injured. McLellan was unhappy with Gamble’s work in Wednesday’s loss.

Yesterday morning McLachlan learned he was starting his first NHL game in the highly unfavourable surroundings of the Montréal Forum. The experience lasted until Serge Savard’s second goal, at 13:24. Bill MacMillan had provided a 1-1 tie until Peter Mahovlich scored Montréal’s second.

Mickey Redmond and Mahovlich completed Montréal’s scoring, with Mahovlich’s second goal the final at 7:12 of the third period.

“I was nervous,” McLachlan said afterward, “but not so nervious that it is anything to lean on. I just didn’t play that well.”

McLachlan’s mood could be described briefly: calm, but disgusted.

“You gotta shake something like this off. You gotta be concerned, but you can’t let it interfere with your next game.”

He appeared to be screened on Montréal’s first goal. Savard and Ron Ellis collided at the Leaf blueline and Savard took over, wheeling in and shooing him from outside a pack of players. Brad Selwood and Rick Ley were crowded at the crease.

“I saw it, all right,” said McLachlan, refusing to use a screen as an excuse. “I just played it terribly. I gave him too much to shoot at.”

The second goal, Mahovlich’s first, came when McLachlan caught the puck, but it dropped to the ice. Mahovlich, unimpeded by Leaf defenders, popped in his ninth of the season.

Savard’s 3-1 goal bounced in through another crowd.

In McLachlan’s opinion, his goaling led to the loss. There was much more involved, however, because the Canadiens were as good last night as they were bad in Toronto October 28, when the Leafs won 6-2.

The Leafs did little to spoil the Canadiens’ act. Mike Pelyk knocked Jean Béliveau to the ice, Mike Walton hit Léon Rochefort, and several players shuffled their feet vigorously while on the bench, but otherwise there was little physical action.

The Canadiens dominated the hitting, as they did everything else. John Ferguson, playing only his second game since ending his retirement, drew cheers from the crowd of 16,613 with every body-slam he delivered.

The return of Ferguson and Savard, who was playing a regular shift for only the second time since recovering from his broken leg, brought an immense improvement to the Canadiens’ play.

The other noticeable difference between the Canadiens last night and their earlier bungling act in Toronto was goaltender Phil Myre.

Myre made several outstanding saves in the first period, although the Canadiens dominated the play enough to outshoot the Leafs 17-9. Eleven of the shots were directed at McLachlan.

Then, in the third period, the Canadiens slowed and played sloppily, and the surprising result was 21 Toronto shots on goal, compared to three for Montréal.

The only goal of the period, however, went to Mahovlich. He made two outstanding moves, one on Ley and one on Glennie, and earned an ovation from the crowd.

“Unbelievable,” said a completely dejected McLellan. Last night’s loss was the Leafs’ eighth in the past 10 games, and the 13th of the season.

Selwood was taken to Montréal General Hospital after he suffered a back injury in the second period.

Selwood, 22, was attempting to check Savard when both fell and slid into the Toronto goalpost. Selwood’s lower back took the impact of the post.

Selwood was removed from the ice on a stretcher. He remained in the Montréal Forum first aid room for examination and then was accompanied to hospital by Leaf general manager Jim Gregory.

“He was in extreme pain,” said Gregory. “It was difficult to move him. The preliminary examination showed no damage to the spinal cord, but they’re making tests on him and I’ll be staying here overnight to see how he is.”

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, November 20, 1970

1st Period
MTL GOAL – 03:49 – Savard
TOR GOAL – 08:42 – MacMillan (Keon)
MTL GOAL – 10:05 – Mahovlich (Richard, Tremblay)
MTL GOAL – 13:24 – Savard
MTL PEN – 15:37 – Cournoyer, charging
TOR PEN – 17:54 – Selwood, interference

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 01:48 – Redmond (Ferguson, Richard)
TOR PEN – 05:50 – Baun, holding
MTL PEN – 14:55 – Cournoyer, boarding
MTL PEN – 19:43 – Ferguson, interference

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 01:53 – Harper, hooking
MTL GOAL – 07:12 – Mahovlich (Richard, Harper)
MTL PEN – 15:15 – Lapointe, cross checking

MTL – Myre (W, 35-36)
TOR – McLachlan (L, 8-11), Gamble (19-21)

MTL – 17+12+3 = 32
TOR – 9+6+21 = 36

MTLGoaltenders: Phil Myre, Rogatien Vachon. Defence: Terry Harper, Guy Lapointe, Serge Savard, J.C. Tremblay. Forwards: Jean Béliveau (C), Bill Collins, Yvan Cournoyer, John Ferguson, Claude Larose, Jacques Lemaire, Peter Mahovlich, Mickey Redmond, Henri Richard, Léon Rochefort, Marc Tardif.
TORGoaltenders: Bruce Gamble, Murray McLachlan. Defence: Bobby Baun, Jim Dorey, Brian Glennie, Rick Ley, Jim McKenny, Mike Pelyk, Brad Selwood. Forwards: Ron Ellis, Jim Harrison, Paul Henderson, Dave Keon (C), Billy MacMillan, Garry Monahan, Darryl Sittler, Guy Trottier, Norm Ullman, Mike Walton.

MTL – 10-5-3 (.639)
TOR – 4-13-0 (.235)