Game 561 – Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 2

Game 561
Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 2
Wednesday, October 23, 1974
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, ON

Cheap goals. Rotten refereeing.

In the opinion of Toronto Maple Leaf coach Red Kelly and of many others at Maple Leaf Gardens last night, they were the cause of the Leafs’ 3-2 loss to the Montréal Canadiens.

With a little more than five minutes remaining and with Leaf defenceman Bob Neely in the penalty box for holding, the Leafs held a 2-1 lead. They had played aggresively enough to warrant that narrow margin.

Then Peter Mahovlich threw a long pass back to the blueline to Guy Lapointe. Lapointe fired and defenceman Borje Salming, parked in front of goalie Doug Favell, went down on his knees to stop it. But the puck had enough acceleration to squeeze past the Swede and in an instant of invisibility, past Favell as well.

Three minutes later, Yvon Lambert tossed an innocent-looking shot from the corner. Mahovlich was circling in front of Favell and Favell was waiting for him to take the puck. Instead, the puck caught the heel of Favell’s stick and dribbled into the net.

“We’ve been getting a lot of that the last few games,” said Kelly. “Bad goals of the cheap variety.”

And on the refereeing of John McCauley: “Why single out Neely on that penalty? That stuff had been going on all night. He just wanted to get even, because he had given Robinson a five-minute penalty earlier.”

The loss was the Leafs’ second of the season and their fifth game in succession without a win. At the weekend also they had third-period leads but dropped them. But in those cases, the Leafs’ excuse was their own lackadaisical play, not the bounce of the puck or the whistle of the official.

Last night, they got some sympathy even out of the Montréal dressing room. Habs coach Scotty Bowman said he did not expect the Lambert shot to go in. And Larry Robinson, who drew the third-period five-minute penalty that opened a six-stitch cut over Bob Neely’s eye, said the Leafs had played a strong game, never letting up.

“But in the third period, the breaks just didn’t happen to fall for them. They fell for us instead. It was a well-played game, just a matter of the breaks.”

At the 5:35 mark of the final period when Robinson collected his penalty, it appeared that momentum was swinging in the Leafs’ favour. The penalty left Montréal two men short and Bill Flett, taking a good Dave Keon setup in the slot, beat goalie Ken Dryden cleanly to give the Leafs the 2-1 lead.

In the second period, the Leafs had been able to kill five successive Montréal power-play advantages. On one of the only two opportnities they got, they had tied the game on a long slapshot by Salming.

Chuck Lefley had given Montréal a first-period lead when he broke into the clear with a pass from Yvan Cournoyer and fired high to beat Favell.

Criticized for their lack of aggressiveness in their weekend outings, the Leafs, most notably Brian Glennie and Neely, began hitting last night. Neely crushed Guy Lafleur into the boards in the second period and the Montréal winger didn’t get up for about three minutes. That sent Robinson after Neely, but the officials kept them apart until the third period when Robinson got his chance and opened the gash.

There was also criticism of the four-line system the Leafs were using and Kelly changed that, putting Blaine Stoughton on a line with Keon and Flett and having a fourth line of Gary Sabourin, Norm Ullman and Tim Ecclestone operating only during penalties.

Sabourin was a particularly effective checker, but the Leaf player of the game was undoubtedly Salming, who defensively and offensively controlled the tempo.

Upset that Lapointe’s key goal slid past his legs, the Swede explained: “There was nobody between him and the net, so I tried to block it. Somehow it got through. I feel bad for Favvy about it.

“We played a good game. We didn’t let up in the third period. It was just a case of lucky goals, eh?”

Favell explained the weird third-period shots that beat him. “That’s what’s been happening to me lately. Even if I play well, I still end up getting beat by those sort of shots.”

Neither Favell nor Dryden had a strenuous evening. The game was a tight-checking affair with few point-blank opportunities.

Leaf right winger Lanny McDonald found himself clean in front of Dryden twice but on each occasion, fanned on the shot. McDonald got off to a slow start as a rookie last season and, this time around, is undergoing the same sort of problem.

Inge Hammarstrom, Eddie Shack and Lyle Moffat were the surplus Leafs who sat out the game. Defenceman Jim McKenny is still out with a charley horse.

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


BOXSCORE
1st Period
MTL PEN – 06:51 – Mahovlich, hooking
MTL GOAL – 14:37 – Lefley (Cournoyer, Van Boxmeer)
TOR PEN – 15:21 – Thompson, hooking
MTL PEN – 16:03 – Lapointe, holding
TOR PEN – 19:13 – Sittler, holding

2nd Period
MTL PEN – 02:00 – team, too many men on the ice
TOR PP GOAL – 03:00 – Salming (Keon, Flett)
MTL PEN – 03:48 – Bouchard, cross checking
TOR PEN – 04:49 – Stoughton, interference
TOR PEN – 08:06 – team, too many men on the ice
TOR PEN – 11:19 – Glennie, cross checking
TOR PEN – 15:13 – Turnbull, holding
TOR PEN – 18:27 – Neely, elbowing

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 04:32 – Lefley, hooking
MTL PEN – 05:35 – Robinson, elbowing major
TOR PP GOAL – 06:34 – Flett (Keon, Favell)
TOR PEN – 13:01 – Neely, holding
MTL PP GOAL – 14:21 – Lapointe (Lemaire, Mahovlich)
MTL GOAL – 17:27 – Lambert (Lafleur)
MTL PEN – 18:23 – Richard, holding

GOALTENDERS
MTL – Dryden (W, 31-33)
TOR – Favell (L, 25-28)

SHOTS ON GOAL
MTL – 12+8+8 = 28
TOR – 9+11+13 = 33

ROSTERS
MTLGoaltenders: Ken Dryden, Michel Larocque. Defence: Pierre Bouchard, Rick Chartraw, Guy Lapointe, Jim Roberts, Larry Robinson, Serge Savard, John Van Boxmeer. Forwards: Yvan Cournoyer, Bob Gainey, Glenn Goldup, Guy Lafleur, Yvon Lambert, Chuck Lefley, Jacques Lemaire, Peter Mahovlich, Henri Richard (C), Steve Shutt.
TORGoaltenders: Doug Favell, Dunc Wilson. Defence: Willie Brossart, Dave Dunn, Brian Glennie, Borje Salming, Ian Turnbull. Forwards: Tim Ecclestone, Ron Ellis, George Ferguson, Bill Flett, Dave Keon (C), Lanny McDonald, Bob Neely, Gary Sabourin, Darryl Sittler, Blaine Stoughton, Errol Thompson, Norm Ullman.

ATTENDANCE
16,485

THREE STARS
Borje Salming (TOR)
⭐⭐ Guy Lapointe (MTL)
⭐⭐⭐ Yvan Cournoyer (MTL)