Game 560 – Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 3

Game 560
Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 3
Wednesday, April 3, 1974
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

Scotty Bowman insisted it really wasn’t a rehearsal for the National Hockey League playoffs so he seemed unperturbed after his Montréal Canadiens dropped a 5-3 decision to the Toronto Maple Leafs here last night.

There was nothing flukey about it. The Leafs earned the win with their fast skating and passing – as they have done most of the season when their opposition didn’t threaten them too severely.

The Canadiens seldom do this to anyone. They are under the impression they can outskate any team. Once upon a time, perhaps as recently as last season, they could. They can’t any more.

The Leafs, who received superlative goaltending from Doug Favell when the Canadiens threatened, scored three goals in the final 10 minutes of the third period after coming from behind three times.

Bowman had been quoted in the Montréal press that this was not a nothing game, that he wished to establish a playoff pattern and that he wanted the Canadiens to exceed 100 points. That, he said, might come in handy for an extra home game in the playoffs.

“No, we weren’t exactly thinking of the playoffs,” said Bowman. “We were thinking of putting pressure on their defencemen. Their defence is like the New York Rangers (whom the Canadiens meet in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs). They can hurt you if you let them move around.

“Our plan was to contain them, try to get them to make mistakes. We did too. We caught (Ian) Turnbull three times in the first period alone but Favell made the difference. He held them in. He was making us shoot high. He was playing deep in the net.

“Our plan on their defencemen might have worked but strange things happened. When we got a three on two or a two on one we got a bad pass or an offside.”

Frank Mahovlich, skating more like a 20-year-old than the 36 which the record book proclaims him to be, scored two goals for the Canadiens. One was on a breakaway in the third period and it broke a 2-2 tie.

Favell was under the impression he had analyzed the situation perfectly, according to the goaltenders’ manual. Mahovlich had a clean swoop at the Toronto net after a shot by Leafs’ defenceman Jim McKenny bounced off the Montréal player’s shins.

Favell, apart from hoisting a red flag, decided the most prudent thing to do was move out a few feet. The most ominous occurrence in hockey, to a goaltender, is Frank Mahovlich whooshing in on a breakaway.

“I thought I made the right move on the big sonnofagun (detergent version),” said Favell. “But the big sonnofagun has this helluva reach. By the time I made my move he was four feet away. I couldn’t do a damn thing about it.”

Jacques Lemaire scored the other goal for the Canadiens. Garry Monahan, Ron Ellis and Inge Hammarstrom scored for the Leafs.

McKenny set up Mahovlich’s second goal when he bounced the puck off the Montréal player’s shins but, throughout most of the game, he was the Leafs’ most competent defenceman – even though the Hockey Night In Canada people chose Salming.

There was nothing wrong with Salming’s performance either – he came on magnificently in the third period – but it was McKenny who kept bailing the Leafs out of trouble in the first two periods. As Scotty Bowman said, the Canadiens were determined to stop the Leafs’ puck-lugging defencemen – and they didn’t. Nobody does a better job in that department than McKenny.

Dave Keon, who has not been especially prominent for the Leafs in recent weeks, looked like the scooter of old. He set up Ellis’ goal with one of his old-time swerving spurts down the middle.

Actually, what the game exhibited more than anything else was the Leafs’ superiority in goal. The Canadiens, going into the playoffs, are more aware than ever of the importance of the retired Ken Dryden.

Wayne Thomas made some tough stops but many in the crowd of 16,772 thought he should have made more. Montréal fans, of course, are not satisfied even with good goaltending. They demand excellence. One could question if they got it last night. If there had to be a comparison deal Favell would have won – pads down, and they didn’t even measure his stick.

The fans booed McKenny’s goal on Thomas in the second period but actually he stopped the puck. Then it bounced past him off the rump of his defenceman John Van Boxmeer. It is tough for goalies to anticipate that.

Dupéré, who has become a scoring sensation since being sprung from the press box, might have set a NHL record for scoring while swimming the breast stroke. He was flailing on the ice when a pass from Hammarstrom, who had executed some magnificent stickhandling, arrived. Somehow Dupéré swiped the puck past Thomas.

“Everyone played well,” said Leafs’ coach Red Kelly. “We didn’t have any loafers.”

He is always this benevolent after a win. He said he would continue with three goaltenders in the playoffs. That isn’t surprising. He can’t make up his mind whom to drop.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, November 24, 1975

1st Period
TOR PEN – 13:09 – Turnbull, hooking
TOR PEN – 14:59 – McKenny, hooking
MTL PP GOAL – 16:06 – F. Mahovlich (Lafleur, Lemaire)

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 11:44 – Monahan, high sticking + fighting major
MTL PEN – 11:44 – P. Mahovlich, high sticking + fighting major
TOR GOAL – 14:29 – McKenny (Sittler)
MTL GOAL – 16:05 – Lemaire (Lefley)
TOR GOAL – 19:59 – Dupéré (Hammarstrom, Salming)

3rd Period
MTL GOAL – 07:35 – F. Mahovlich
TOR GOAL – 09:11 – Monahan (Keon, Salming)
TOR GOAL – 13:43 – Ellis (Keon, Monahan)
TOR GOAL – 16:42 – Hammarstrom (Thompson)

TOR – Favell (W, 29-32)
MTL – Thomas (L, 22-27)

TOR – 7+8+12 = 27
MTL – 17+8+7 = 32

TORGoaltenders: Doug Favell, Dunc Wilson. Defence: Willie Brossart, Jim McKenny, Mike Pelyk, Borje Salming, Ian Turnbull. Forwards: Denis Dupéré, Ron Ellis, George Ferguson, Inge Hammarstrom, Paul Henderson, Dave Keon (C), Garry Monahan, Bob Neely, Eddie Shack, Darryl Sittler, Errol Thompson, Norm Ullman.
MTLGoaltenders: Michel Larocque, Wayne Thomas. Defence: Pierre Bouchard, Jim Roberts, Larry Robinson, Serge Savard, John Van Boxmeer, Rick Wilson. Forwards: Yvan Cournoyer, Bob Gainey, Guy Lafleur, Claude Larose, Chuck Lefley, Jacques Lemaire, Frank Mahovlich, Peter Mahovlich, Henri Richard (C), Steve Shutt, Murray Wilson.

TOR – 34-26-16 (.553)
MTL – 44-23-9 (.638)