Game 564 – Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 3

Game 564
Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 3
Wednesday, March 12, 1975
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

There is a cliche that coach Red Kelly uses about hockey games being 60 minutes in duration. The Toronto Maple Leafs have been milking the hang out of that one lately.

Last night the Leafs proved that their recent success has been no fluke, with a third-period charge that gave Toronto a 3-3 draw with the Montréal Canadiens at Maple Leaf Gardens. The lie extended the Leafs’ unbeaten string to eight games, seven of them wins.

For the third time, the Leafs kept the string alive with a last-minute goal as Ron Ellis lifted his 26th of the season over a sprawling Ken Dryden with three seconds remaining. The tie also preserved an unbeaten string for Montréal, extending their league record for on-the-road efficiency to 23 games.

The Leafs’ newfound ability to push until the final bell was singled out by Kelly as the reason for their successes. “They kept persisting. Where they might have quit earlier in the season, they went the full game. We’ve never had the same drive.”

Ellis attributed the success to the way lines have been stabilized since the start of the string. Kelly now goes with three fixed lines, which appear to alternate in having good nights. Last night, Ellis’ linemates, centre Darryl Sittler and left-winger Dave “Tiger” Williams, preceded him to the scoresheet. During the weekend, each of the other two lines had a three-goal performance.

“We’re solid,” the industrious Ellis said. “There’s been no changes and I think it’s paying off.”

Also included in the non-change department is the goal position, ably filled by Gord McRae, who has eight wins, two ties and a single loss since joining the Leafs from Oklahoma City. Last night, he blocked back-to-back breakaways by Jacques Lemaire and Yvan Cournoyer. His actions roused the sellout crowd and likely saved the game.

McRae shrugged off post-game laurels. “It’s not what you mumble after the game…that’s my job.”

McRae’s play, plus several good stops by Dryden made the third period an old-fashioned hockey spectacle.

Toronto entered the period down 3-1, having been out-skated and outhit by the slick and slamming Canadiens. The “Tiger,” a spectacle in himself after he scores, brought them within one with his 10th goal of the season, then danced back to centre ice.

The Leafs placed Dryden under heavy fire in the remaining time, blasting 20 shots at him, six coming from the line of George Ferguson, Lanny McDonald and Thompson, which checked aggressively. McDonald, Ferguson and Brian Glennie, who filled in for the flu-ridden Jim McKenny, showed no shyness about hitting and neither did Canadiens rearguards Serge Savard and Larry Robinson.

The Leafs kept it up to the end. The Ellis goal came after a faceoff with eight seconds left in the match. McRae was out of the net and Kelly strengthened the Sittler line with the Leafs’ heavyweight defenceman, Dave Dunn, who doubles as left wing, Bob Neely a centre as a junior with Peterborough, and Borje Salming.

Sittler shoved the puck through Mahovlich’s legs and Neely bullied his way to it for two shots, bringing Dryden to his knees for the stops. Ellis streaked in to backhand the disc over him.

The Leafs hit quickly in the first minute, but were then confronted by a stingy Montréal defence as the Canadiens took a 2-1 first-period advantage.

Sittler ripped a wrist shot past Ken Dryden when the game was 14 seconds young as Ellis trapped Guy Lapointe’s clearing pass in the Montréal end.

The Canadiens pulled even on a Toronto defensive miscue as Rod Seiling allowed Guy Lafleur to slip a pass in front of McRae for Murray Wilson. Montréal took the lead on Jacques Lemaire’s slap shot, which deflected off the knee of a diving Salming, while Neely was off for cross checking. It was the 83rd goal of the season for the Montréal power play, the most potent in the league.

The lead grew by one – a grand one – in the second period, when Mahovlich scored his 33rd goal of the year. Again it came on a power play, with an unlikely sinner named Inge Hammarstrom off for tripping.

Mahovlich choreographed the type of goal that has become a family trademark. He scooped the puck up behind Dryden and knifed through all the Leaf defenders in his way, consuming the ice with huge strides until he hoisted a backhand past McRae. It brought the fans out of their seats and one right out on the ice.

Dryden made a few impressive stops, particularly on an early break by Thompson. McRae thwarted Mahovlich with a pad on a later power play and had help in covering up from Salming and Dunn.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, March 13, 1975

1st Period
TOR GOAL – 00:14 – Sittler (Ellis, Williams)
MTL PEN – 01:57 – Risebrough, slashing
MTL PEN – 02:27 – Lapointe, holding
MTL GOAL – 09:04 – Wilson (Lafleur, Sather)
TOR PEN – 11:16 – Neely, cross checking
MTL PP GOAL – 12:32 – Lemaire (Shutt)
TOR PEN – 17:14 – Williams, slashing
MTL PEN – 18:54 – Robinson, elbowing

2nd Period
MTL PEN – 04:18 – Lafleur, hooking
TOR PEN – 05:58 – Hammarstrom, tripping
MTL PP GOAL – 06:27 – Mahovlich
MTL PEN – 08:27 – Cournoyer, slashing
TOR PEN – 16:17 – McDonald, tripping
MTL PEN – 18:44 – Roberts, high sticking

3rd Period
TOR GOAL – 00:48 – Williams (Sittler, Alexander)
TOR EA GOAL – 19:57 – Ellis (Neely, Sittler)

TOR – McRae (T, 27-30)
MTL – Dryden (T, 40-43)

TOR – 10+13+20 = 43
MTL – 12+11+7 = 30

TORGoaltenders: Doug Favell, Gord McRae. Defence: Claire Alexander, Dave Dunn, Brian Glennie, Borje Salming, Rod Seiling. Forwards: Ron Ellis, George Ferguson, Bill Flett, Inge Hammarstrom, Dave Keon (C), Lanny McDonald, Bob Neely, Darryl Sittler, Blaine Stoughton, Errol Thompson, Norm Ullman, Dave Williams.
MTLGoaltenders: Ken Dryden, Michel Larocque. Defence: Don Awrey, Pierre Bouchard, Guy Lapointe, Jim Roberts, Larry Robinson, Serge Savard. Forwards: Yvan Cournoyer, Bob Gainey, Guy Lafleur, Yvon Lambert, Jacques Lemaire, Peter Mahovlich, Doug Risebrough, Glen Sather, Steve Shutt, Mario Tremblay, Murray Wilson.

TOR – 28-29-12 (.493)
MTL – 40-11-17 (.713)