Game 567 – Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 3

Game 567
Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 3
Wednesday, December 10, 1975
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

The Toronto Maple Leafs, responding to coach Red Kelly’s gentle prodding, played a whale of a hockey game for two periods last night at the Forum.

Unfortunately it ended there, Kelly’s third period tactics, particularly bringing in a cold Blaine Stoughton to check the dazzling Guy Lafleur, turned what could have been a win into a 3-3 tie with the Montréal Canadiens in National Hockey League action.

Putting Staughton on Lafleur was like a lineman guarding Johnny Rogers one on one. Kelly defended his move and thought Blaine played well.

“We needed bolstering out there and I thought Stoughton would do it. We were struggling a bit and I thought a change would help,” Kelly said, avoiding comment on the logic behind Stoughton’s icing the puck on two occasions.

The results of the ensuing faceoffs were two lost draws in the Leafs end and great scoring chances that were turned back by a sensational Wayne Thomas.

Thomas saved the Leafs from a loss with 35 saves including 16 in the third period when the Leafs blew a 3-1 lead. With the tie, the Leafs remain winless in nine games with the next chance in Maple Leaf Gardens against the New York Islanders, Saturday.

The perennial rivalry was a humdinger from a fan standpoint as 15,787 vocalized throughout the end to end action.

Kelly was pleased with the point that moved him within nine points of the second-place Boston Bruins in the Adams Division and his quotes resounded with enthusiasm.

“It’s tough against these guys. They’ve got a lot of power. Our guys are young and stood in there. It’s a big point.”

Kelly did get an outstanding performance from right-winger Lanny McDonald who scored the go-ahead and third period goal in a second-period outburst. McDonald has had a habit of earning his inflated contract on the road.

“Lanny played well. He has been getting 90 per cent of his points on the road. I think it’s due to the extreme pressure he is under from everyone at home, (media, fans, etc.),” Kelly said.

Jim “Howie” McKenny scored the Leafs other goal. Howie has been off his play lately but responded with a gutsy performance. Yvan Cournoyer, Jacques Lemaire and Guy Lapointe scored for the Canadiens, runaway leaders in the Norris Division.

McKenny opened the scoring at 16:59 of the first period in a style befitting Gilles Perreault. A dandy move in front of goalie Ken Dryden and the puck was in the net. Centre George Fergson, who played an oustanding game, set up the play when Dryden gave up a big rebound.

The Canadiens tied the score when Cournoyer got his 14th of the year at 2:30 of the second period. Inge Hammarstrom was out-muscled for the puck in the corner and Steve Shutt fed Mahovlich who spotted Cournoyer cruising in front.

Action at this point switched to the barnstormer from Hanna, Alberta, who was sent into the clear by Bob Neely for the Leafs’ second goal. McDonald scored again at 9:49 of the period when set up by Stan Weir in front of Dryden.

Dryden made 22 saves and was outmatched by Thomas, returning to the Forum for his first game since being traded to Toronto in an off-season deal.

Thomas was let go because the Habs wished to have one English and one French netminder (Bunny Larocque) and he was the odd man out.

“Thomas was probably the best goalie we faced this year,” Shutt said. “The interesting thing is he stands there looking like he’s never going to stop it but when you shoot he immediately starts his flopping act and comes up with the save.”

The Canadiens started to blitz in the third period and after only 1:58, Lemaire beat Thomas when the Leafs defence left him untouched in front of the net. Lemaire went to his backhand to make it 3-2.

John Van Boxmeer had a good chance to score moments later when he slid into Thomas carrying the puck. Thomas’ glove went into the net clasping the puck.

“The puck was in,” Van Boxmeer said. “It was at least a foot behind the goal-line. Sure he had his glove on it but it was in the net.”

Lapointe tied the score at 16:08 when he deflected Van Boxmeer’s long drive behind Thomas. At this point the Canadiens had tested Thomas 17 times in the period.

“We just played a great third period. The traditional rivalry really seems to do a lot for the Leafs. We haven’t beaten them here in two years,” defenceman Larry Robinson said.

Kelly proved tactically right on one of his few moves when he decided to go with only four defencemen, relegating Dave Dunn the job of opening the players’ bench door during line changes.

NOTES: The Canadiens retired jersey number 16 worn by former stars Toe Blake, Elmer Lach, Butch Bouchard and Henri Richard in a pre-game ceremony.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, December 11, 1975

1st Period
TOR PEN – 05:12 – Williams, holding
TOR PEN – 15:25 – Williams, high sticking + fighting major
MTL PEN – 15:25 – Lapointe, high sticking + fighting major
TOR GOAL – 16:59 – McKenny (Ferguson, Boutette)
MTL PEN – 19:15 – Tremblay, charging

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 02:30 – Cournoyer (Mahovlich, Shutt)
TOR GOAL – 06:10 – McDonald (Neely)
TOR GOAL – 09:49 – McDonald (Weir, Thompson)
MTL PEN – 13:05 – Bouchard, holding
MTL PEN – 16:35 – Tremblay, trpping
TOR PEN – 18:41 – Turnbull, hooking

3rd Period
MTL GOAL – 01:58 – Lemaire (Lambert)
TOR PEN – 09:16 – Salming, holding
TOR PEN – 11:43 – McKenny, tripping
MTL PEN – 12:31 – Lemaire, holding
MTL GOAL – 16:08 – Lapointe (Van Boxmeer, Risebrough)

MTL – Dryden (T, 22-25)
TOR – Thomas (T, 35-38)

MTL – 7+13+18 = 38
TOR – 11+8+6 = 25

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

MTL – 20-5-5 (.750)
TOR – 9-10-8 (.481)