Game 544 – Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 2

Game 544
Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 2
Wednesday, November 10, 1971
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Scotty Bowman smiled, the angle of the original Big Pete Mahovlich’s big cigar was jaunty and Toronto Maple Leaf coach John McLellan talked about making mistakes against the Montréal Canadiens.

The Canadiens beat the Leafs 5-2 last night in a National Hockey League game, looking like winners all the way, but showing their Stanley Cup class only in bursts.

They showed enough for their coach, Bowman, to say he was pleased – and he isn’t pleased easily.

“The defence played well,” he said, “that’s what I look for – when our defence plays well we are all right.”

The Leaf defence was less successful.

Guy Lapointe opened the scoring with a power-play goal, set up by Yvan Cournoyer’s passout and 10 minutes later Cournoyer gave Frank Mahovlich a breakaway off a superb pass, and the seemingly inevitable result was 2-0 Montréal. Jacques Lemaire’s power-play goal made it 3-0 in the third and Phil Roberto and Réjean Houle completed the Montréal scoring.

Jim Harrison and Don Marshall were the only Leafs who could beat goaltender Ken Dryden. Marshall’s goal, his first as a Leaf, was intended as a pass, but the puck bounced off the back of Dryden’s pad.

“The shot,” said Mahovlich, “was a change of pace. I had the same kind of chance in Boston, and I put everything into the shot and it went into the goaltender’s pads. This time I hoped to hit the corner.”

He did, beautifully, for his 13th goal in 14 games.

Pete Mahovlich Sr. was at Maple Leaf Gardens. When he was asked about how it felt when his son, Frank, skated out as the first star, the father’s eyes sparkled and the cigar rose a couple of notches. He didn’t need to say anything.

“I thought Frank played well. I think Peter was a little tired. He had the flu for 10 days. He was in bed, you know.”

It was the first time he had seen his sons in a league game since he attended the Stanley Cup finals in Montréal.

“I will go back again,” he said, nudging with his elbow to signal supreme confidence, “for the Stanley Cup.”

Coach Bowman, who smiles only slightly when he says he enjoys coaching the Canadiens and hopes to stay a long while, wants the team to finish first. A third-place finish like last year’s is considered a poor entry into the playoffs.

“But look at our record. We have two losses in 14 games and we’re in second place.”

Bowman made the St. Louis Blues effective. Now, with the talent of the Canadiens available to him, he is like a kid with his first chemistry set. Just mix the secret ingredients, stand back and boom.

He started Pete Mahovlich at centre between brother Frank and Phil Roberto “because I thought it would be nice in Toronto.” Brother Frank came off immediately, and was replaced by Marc Tardif.

“I only wanted to see who the Leafs would start,” said Bowman.

Norm Ullman, Ron Ellis and Paul Henderson started. In subsequent shifts Bowman played Richard, Roberto and Tardif against the Ullman unit and was pleased with the result.

Richard was awarded an assist on Roberto’s goal, even though Richard’s pass went to Henderson and Roberto got the puck on the Leaf player’s giveaway. The point was recorded as Richard’s 900th.

“I don’t think it is such a big thing,” he said, “now that players score 100 points a year, but I am proud I got many of my points before expansion.”

Leaf coach John McLellan emphasized that he couldn’t criticize his players for lack of effort. “But you can’t make that many mistakes and hope to win against them. They’re too good a club.”

McLellan noted that the Leafs outshot the Canadiens 37-to-33, but across the hall in the Montréal dressing room Dryden considered that statistic incredulously.

“I think the third period (16-10 for Toronto) shots must have been padded.

One Canadien, Claude Larose, was injured without leaving the bench. He was looking one way when Leaf defenceman Brad Selwood shot from another direction. The puck hit Larose below the nose cutting him there and inside his mouth, requiring 20 stitches.

A reporter from Montréal observed in his game story that Selwood must have got his scouting report mixed up. If he was going to shoot a Canadien out of the game, he should have picked someone like Cournoyer, or a Mahovlich.

Frank Mahovlich needed about 10 stitches to repair a cut elbow after the game.

Hence his goodbye to his father needed to be fast.

“Take care, Pop.”

“Good luck, Boy.”

Then Frank rushed to the Canadiens’ bus to the airport on his way, many hockey observers figure, to a 50-goal season.

He had been asked about reaching the 50-goal plateau, in the dressing room. As a Leaf he once shot 48. As a Detroit Red Wing, 49.

He smiled at the question. “I never aim for a target. Actually I started this year hoping for 30.”

But when he said 30, his eyes twinkled to give away his puton. His 15 goals in 14 games leave him with 64 games in which to score 35. It’s a safe bet that if he does jump over the 50 hurdle, the man will not stop at that he figures. He will be only starting.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, November 11, 1971

1st Period
TOR PEN – 03:10 – Harrison, slashing
TOR PEN – 07:29 – Harrison, elbowing
MTL PP GOAL – 08:36 – Lapointe (Cournoyer, Tremblay)
MTL GOAL – 18:49 – F. Mahovlich (Cournoyer, Laperrière)

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 07:51 – Ley, holding
MTL PP GOAL – 09:06 – Lemaire (F. Mahovlich, Tremblay)
TOR GOAL – 10:40 – Harrison (McKenny)
MTL GOAL – 11:30 – Roberto (Richard, Tardif)

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 00:07 – Harper, hooking
TOR GOAL – 02:10 – Marshall (Keon, Ley)
MTL GOAL – 06:25 – Houle (Lafleur)

MTL – Dryden (W, 35-37)
TOR – Parent (L, 29-34)

MTL – 10+13+11 = 34
TOR – 11+10+16 = 37

MTLGoaltenders: Ken Dryden, Phil Myre. Defence: Pierre Bouchard, Terry Harper, Jacques Laperrière, Guy Lapointe, J.C. Tremblay. Forwards: Yvan Cournoyer, Réjean Houle, Guy Lafleur, Claude Larose, Jacques Lemaire, Frank Mahovlich, Peter Mahovlich, Larry Pleau, Henri Richard (C), Phil Roberto, Marc Tardif.
TORGoaltenders: Bernie Parent, Jacques Plante. Defence: Bobby Baun, Jim Dorey, Brian Glennie, Rick Ley, Jim McKenny, Brad Selwood. Forwards: Denis Dupéré, Ron Ellis, Jim Harrison, Paul Henderson, Dave Keon (C), Don Marshall, Garry Monahan, Darryl Sittler, Brian Spencer, Guy Trottier, Norm Ullman.

MTL – 10-2-2 (.786)
TOR – 4-6-5 (.433)


Frank Mahovlich (MTL)
⭐⭐ J.C. Tremblay (MTL)
⭐⭐⭐ Henri Richard (MTL)