Game 566 – Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 2

Game 566
Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 2
Saturday, November 22, 1975
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

It wasn’t so much playing against his former teammates as the over-protective Toronto defence that hampered Maple Leafs goalie Wayne Thomas in Saturday night’s National Hockey League 4-2 loss to the Montréal Canadiens.

Thomas, rescued by the Leafs from the Canadiens bench, made the big saves on blasts from the point by Jacques Lemaire and Guy Lapointe. He thwarted Guy Lafleur in a one-on-one moment of truth.

But it was the well-intentioned and often courageous Borje Salming who, in effect, was responsible for Montréal’s win, which ended the Leafs’ home unbeaten string at seven games.

Salming, whose outstanding defensive prowess made him the game’s second star, was the main reason the Canadiens’ Peter Mahovlich was the first star. Mahovlich banked his 12th and 13th goals of the season off Salming in front of the Toronto goal when the Leafs’ defenceman was trying to block the puck.

Mahovlich’s second goal, which was Montréal’s second power-play score of the night, was the winner.

“It was the power plays that killed us,” complained Toronto coach Red Kelly, who disliked the way referee Bruce Hood called the game. “We didn’t deserve to be penalized that much.

“Our own power play wasn’t moving. We’d get the puck but couldn’t get it out of our own end. We weren’t skating as well as we have been recently.”

Each club was penalized five times but Kelly’s major complaint concerned the decision on a second-period scuffle between the Leafs’ large David Dunn and Montréal’s Bob Gainey. The hardest thing to hit Dunn was a five minute fighting sentence, while Gainey took a minor for roughing.

The Leafs kept the Canadiens at bay during the three-minute difference, with Salming and Darryl Sittler doing the bulk of the work. The score was tied at 1-1 and Salming particularly stood out for a hard check on Mahovlich, and his ragging and blocking of the puck.

However, the extended penalty-killing role took its toll on the Leafs energy. Mahovlich picked up a loose puck behind the Toronto net, circled and ricocheted the rubber off Salming to put Montréal ahead 2-1 at 12:15 of the second period.

The Leaf defence persisted in showing the brave or fool-hardy tendency to stand in front of shots and 18 seconds into the third period, Mahovlich again bounced the puck into the net off Salming, while George Ferguson was serving the last moments of a second-period interference penalty.

“If he hadn’t put it in for me, Yvon Lambert would have,” said Mahovlich. Lambert scored the first Montréal goal on a power play in the first period. The Canadiens have scored 29 goals with a man advantage this year, the Leafs a mere dozen.

Salming evoked loud applause from the Maple Leaf Gardens capacity crowd of 16,485 when he atoned for one of the goals by booming a slap shot into the net off the pads of a partially screened Ken Dryden, while Lapointe was in the penalty box. Murray Wilson scored the final goal into an empty net, deserted by Thomas in the last minute for an extra attacker.

As though Thomas’t teammates appreciated the trauma of facing his old comrades in enemy colours, the Leafs came out bombarding the cool and uncooperative Dryden and kept up the pressure until they were rewarded with the game’s first goal at 5:12.

Stan Weir wheeled to backhand a Sittler rebound past a falling Dryden to give the Leafs the lead for the only time in the game. The Leafs outshot Montréal 14-11 in the first period but, by the end of the match, were even with the Canadiens at 29 shots. Lambert tied the game in the first period.

The second period, while it produced only one goal, produced no yawns, as there was much fast skating and both goalies worked hard for their salaries. Dryden earned the crowd’s respect by kicking out two Errol Thompson shots as the left winger was left alone 10 feet in front of the Montréal crease. Thomas, likewise, made back-to-back stops on Lafleur and Lapointe.

Canadiens coach Scotty Bowman lauded his former third-stringer after the match, recalling that he had won the Molson Cup for the Canadiens two seasons ago, a contest based on selections among the three stars of home games. He played 47 games in Dryden’s year out of hockey but was benched last season when Dryden came back and shared the net with Bunny Larocque.

“I felt he was a good enough goaltender for someone to build a team around but we couldn’t get a suitable trade up to Christmas so we just held on to him,” Bowman explained.

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

1st Period
TOR GOAL – 05:12 – Weir (McKenny, Sittler)
TOR PEN – 05:57 – Neely, roughing
TOR PEN – 10:21 – Dunn, interference
MTL PP GOAL – 10:55 – Lambert (Mahovlich, Lemaire)
MTL PEN – 11:41 – Awrey, tripping
TOR PEN – 17:17 – Dunn, slashing
MTL PEN – 18:34 – Lapointe, tripping

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 04:43 – Dunn, fighting major
MTL PEN – 04:43 – Gainey, roughing
MTL GOAL – 12:15 – Mahovlich
MTL PEN – 16:13 – Mahovlich, interference
TOR PEN – 19:33 – Ferguson, interference

3rd Period
MTL GOAL – 00:18 – Mahovlich (Lapointe)
MTL PEN – 10:45 – Lapointe, hooking
TOR PP GOAL – 12:43 – Salming (Dunn, Weir)
MTL EN GOAL – 19:49 – Wilson (Lemaire)

MTL – Dryden (W, 27-29)
TOR – Thomas (L, 25-28)

MTL – 11+9+9= 29
TOR – 14+6+9 = 29

MTLGoaltenders: Ken Dryden, Michel Larocque. Defence: Don Awrey, Pierre Bouchard, Guy Lapointe, Jim Roberts, Larry Robinson, Serge Savard. Forwards: Yvan Cournoyer (C), Bob Gainey, Doug Jarvis, Guy Lafleur, Yvon Lambert, Jacques Lemaire, Peter Mahovlich, Doug Risebrough, Steve Shutt, Mario Tremblay, Murray Wilson.
TORGoaltenders: Gord McRae, Wayne Thomas. Defence: Pat Boutette, Dave Dunn, Brian Glennie, Jim McKenny, Borje Salming, Rod Seiling, Ian Turnbull. Forwards: Don Ashby, George Ferguson, Inge Hammarstrom, Lanny McDonald, Bob Neely, Darryl Sittler (C), Blaine Stoughton, Errol Thompson, Dave Williams, Stan Weir.

MTL – 14-4-3 (.738)
TOR – 9-6-4 (.579)