Game 545 – Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 2

Game 545
Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 2
Wednesday, December 22, 1971
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

Ken Dryden faces an important law examination today at McGill University, as important as the one he wrote Tuesday, but he took time out last night for his usual role, goaltending with the Montréal Canadiens.

Dryden destroyed the Toronto Maple Leafs’ best efforts, helping the Canadiens to a come-from-behind 4-2 win.

Scotty Bowman, the Canadiens’ coach, often is asked how long he will continue using Dryden in goal every game. In reply, he merely points to the Canadiens position in the standing, second behind the New York Rangers, and gives Dryden’s goaltending as a major reason.

Twice last night, Dryden stopped breakaways by Dave Keon, who is not easily defied in such a situation.

Keon’s breaks came when the Leafs led, first 1-0 and then 2-1. Success either time might have kept the Canadiens flat, as they were in the first period when the visiting side got an deserved a 17-8 edge in shots on goal. But Dryden made the saves, when Keon faked twice the first chance and shot from 20 feet on the second.

Norm Ullman and Garry Monahan scored for the Leafs. Then the Canadiens took over with three goals in less than seven minutes. Henri Richard’s shot from back of the goal-line bounced off Leaf defenceman Jim McKenny’s leg and behind goaltender Bernie Parent.

Frank Mahovlich and Claude Larose succeeded on clean breakaways, Mahovlich while the Leafs were attemtping a power play.

Réjean Houle scored the final goal for the Canadiens in the third period during a power play, awarded when a sloppy line change left the Leafs with too many men on the ice.

The lesson for the Leafs, once again, was that mistakes cannot be made against any team of distinction.

The Leafs have yet to win a game against Montréal, New York, Boston or Chicago, though they have tied the latter three. They have come tantalizingly close to winning, having led in four of six losses against such teams. But losing leads is an unmentionable in any coaching manual.

“The Leafs are a tough team to beat after they’ve taken a lead,” said Bowman, throwing a plaudit in the direction of his players, who perhaps didn’t realize the Leafs have a record of throwing away leads.

“But,” Bowman continued, “Dryden’s saves on the Keon breakaways made the game.”

The Leafs undoubtedly missed Paul Henderson and Jim Harrison, both out with injuries. Brad Selwood, the most consistent of the Leafs’ young defencemen, woke up yesterday with a serious attack of the flu and so wasn’t in uniform.

But the loss still wasn’t the kind that coach John McLellan could easily dismiss. The soaring Canadiens faced neither hard checks nor all-out backchecking.

What’s more, half the Canadiens’ production came from players who have been inconspicuous in recent weeks. Larose, whose play is all it never was before in Montréal, earned assists on the first two goals before scoring the winner.

Houle, however, hadn’t scored since November 10, when the Canadiens outclassed the Leafs 5-2 in Maple Leaf Gardens. Richard had only one goal in recent weeks, and Mahovlich’s tying score was his 18th of the season, indicative of his target trouble. He scored his 15th that night in Toronto.

Mahovlich scored after Denis Dupéré passed to Keon, who was immediately checked by two Canadien penalty killers. Larose checked Keon and knocked the puck ahead to “The Big M,” who was breaking quickly.

Mahovlich returned Larose’s favour less than a minute later. Larose took Mahovlich’s pass for the breakaway that gave him his 11th goal of the season. Leaf defenceman McKenny’s shot had bounced off Jacques Laperrière to make it all possible.

Dryden, who last year told the Canadiens he preferred playing for their American Hockey League farm team because it gave him more time for his law studies, was as reflective as, say, he was after the Canadiens’ playoff wins last spring.

He said he faces breakaways as he does penalty shots, without any strategy. He’s content to react and hope for the best.

The loss ended the Leafs’ series of wins at five. The Canadiens remain undefeated at the Montréal Forum, where they have won 12 and tied three.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, December 23, 1971

1st Period
MTL PEN – 01:22 – Laperrière, interference
TOR PP GOAL – 03:10 – Ullman (Ellis)
TOR PEN – 06:26 – MacMillan, tripping
TOR PEN – 17:03 – Monahan, interference

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 00:51 – Monahan (Keon, Baun)
MTL GOAL – 02:55 – Richard (Larose)
TOR PEN – 05:43 – Glennie, holding
MTL PEN – 07:48 – Tardif, hooking
MTL SH GOAL – 09:17 – F. Mahovlich (Larose)
MTL GOAL – 09:59 – Larose (F. Mahovlich, Laperrière)

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 09:05 – team, too many men on the ice
MTL PP GOAL – 10:42 – Houle (Tremblay, Laperrière)

MTL – Dryden (W, 36-38)
TOR – Parent (L, 30-34)

MTL – 8+16+10 = 34
TOR – 17+14+7 = 38

MTLGoaltenders: Ken Dryden, Phil Myre. Defence: Pierre Bouchard, Terry Harper, Jacques Laperrière, Guy Lapointe, Jim Roberts, J.C. Tremblay. Forwards: Chuck Arnason, Yvan Cournoyer, Réjean Houle, Claude Larose, Chuck Lefley, Jacques Lemaire, Frank Mahovlich, Peter Mahovlich, Henri Richard (C), Marc Tardif.
TORGoaltenders: Bernie Parent, Jacques Plante. Defence: Bobby Baun, Jim Dorey, Brian Glennie, Rick Ley, Jim McKenny, Mike Pelyk. Forwards: Denis Dupéré, Ron Ellis, Dave Keon (C), Billy MacMillan, Don Marshall, Garry Monahan, Darryl Sittler, Brian Spencer, Guy Trottier, Norm Ullman.

MTL – 20-4-7 (.758)
TOR – 15-10-8 (.576)