Game 559 – Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 3

Game 559
Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 3
Wednesday, January 23, 1974
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

Dave Gardner and Steve Shutt, two former Toronto Marlboros who have found breaking into the Canadien lineup about as difficult as getting invited to tea by royalty, last night carried the Montréal team to a 4-3 comeback win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Leafs blew a 2-0 lead, provided by Borje Salming’s first National Hockey League goal and Ian Turnbull’s fifth, with the lost faceoffs in front of goalie Dunc Wilson leading directly to the goals by Henri Richard and Shutt. The Canadiens took over then, and Shutt’s second goal provided a 3-2 lead.

The Canadiens got the three goals they needed in a span of four minutes late in the second period. Peter Mahovlich got the other on a third-period power play. Darryl Sittler scored the Leafs’ other goal in the last minute of play.

The win put the second-place Canadiens 10 points ahead of the fourth-place Leafs. They could move up on the Boston Bruins, whom they trail by six points, tonight when they play in Buffalo. A Sabre win would move the Buffalo team ahead of the Leafs.

The Leafs and Canadiens were overcoming bad previous performances and numerous injuries last night. The Canadiens lost 8-0 here Saturday and their fans were showing loud signs of hostility when the Leafs led 2-0.

The Canadiens were missing the complete forward line of Jacques Lemaire, Yvan Cournoyer and Chuck Lefley and their best defensive defenceman, Jacques Laperrière. But the usual extras, Shutt, Gardner and Yvon Lambert, and defenceman Pierre Bouchard, were able to capitalize on Leaf mistakes as well as the more illustrious stars they were replacing.

The Leafs lacked Bob Neely, who has missed seven games with an intestinal infection, and Rick Kehoe, who bruised a heel in practice earlier this week. But the team’s problems had more to do with infrequent errors of execution than any weakness which showed up all evening.

Richard, at 37 the one grey-hair among the youth-dominated Canadiens, won a faceoff from Norm Ullman, passed back to Serge Savard and then charged for the net to deflect his shot past Wilson for the goal.

Gardner won a faceoff from Sittler two minutes later, passing to Shutt for his eighth goal of the season. Two minutes later Lambert fed Gardner for a rush which was stopped only temporarily by a stiff Brian Glennie check. Lanny McDonald and Eddie Shack collided trying to control the puck and Shutt took over, blasting the puck by Wilson for number 8.

Wilson made a brilliant stop on a Shutt breakaway in the third period, and the former Marlie played all night as though he wants to leave coach Scotty Bowman’s dog-house forever.

“The first goal was like old times, I must have got 15 a year like that playing with Dick (his name for Gardner) on the Marlies,” said the first star of the game.

“On the second, the Leaf defence just sorta disappeared, so I said thank you very much and accepted the puck.”

Gardner, the centre Shutt knows so well, has had even more difficulty in making the Canadiens. The injury to Lemaire provided his key, but earlier this season he was driven to the point of desperration by not getting a chance.

“I got in touch with Al Eagleson (his lawyer) and asked him to find out if the Canadiens had any plans for me. He talked with them, and advised me to sit tight, I’d get my chance.

“But in a lot of ways this has been a great place to play, and I wouldn’t want to move. Guys like Henri Richard are helping me a lot.

Gardner still hasn’t won a centre position. He was switched by Bowman, for no apparent reason, after an impressive two shifts at centre, and played most of the rest of the game at right wing with Lambert working between him and Shutt.

“I play anywhere,” said Gardner, “as long as I play.”

Salming played his usual game against the Canadiens, which is to say he amazed the 16,763 at the Forum. He initiated the play that led to his goal by feeding McDonald, who rushed and shot from the Canadien blue line. Salming kept skating and tipped the rebound past Michel Larocque.

“Salming played well, some other played well,” Kelly was saying last night, “some were struggling from the start – but they were trying. So the story in the nutshell was in three faceoffs (including the final Mahovlich score) – we pretty well contained them otherwise.

“You may not win the games in your own end, but you can’t lose them like we did tonight.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, January 24, 1974

1st Period
MTL PEN – 06:22 – P. Mahovlich, elbowing
TOR GOAL – 15:37 – Salming (McDonald)
TOR PEN – 18:07 – Ellis, hooking

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 01:33 – Turnbull (Ullman)
TOR PEN – 09:07 – Glennie, interference
MTL GOAL – 13:05 – Richard (Savard)
MTL GOAL – 15:41 – Shutt (Gardner)
MTL GOAL – 17:18 – Shutt (Gardner, Lambert)

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 11:27 – Ullman, tripping
MTL PP GOAL – 11:40 – P. Mahovlich
MTL PEN – 12:06 – Savard, holding
TOR PEN – 16:42 – Turnbull, interference
TOR GOAL – 19:43 – Sittler (Hammarstrom)

MTL – Larocque (W, 30-33)
TOR – Wilson (L, 23-27)

MTLGoaltenders: Michel Larocque, Wayne Thomas. Defence: Pierre Bouchard, Guy Lapointe, Jim Roberts, Larry Robinson, Serge Savard. Forwards: Bob Gainey, Dave Gardner, Glenn Goldup, Guy Lafleur, Yvon Lambert, Claude Larose, Frank Mahovlich, Peter Mahovlich, Henri Richard (C), Steve Shutt, Murray Wilson.
TORGoaltenders: Doug Favell, Dunc Wilson. Defence: Brian Glennie, Jim McKenny, Mike Pelyk, Borje Salming, Ian Turnbull. Forwards: Tim Ecclestone, Ron Ellis, Inge Hammarstrom, Paul Henderson, Dave Keon (C), Lanny McDonald, Garry Monahan, Eddie Shack, Darryl Sittler, Errol Thompson, Norm Ullman.

MTL – 27-11-6 (.682)
TOR – 21-17-8 (.543)