Game 571 – Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 3

Game 571
Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 3
Thursday, October 21, 1976
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

The wounded are falling by the wayside as the Toronto Maple Leafs continue to frolic in last place in the National Hockey League’s Adams Division.

The Leafs offset an otherwise shoddy early season last night by turning a commendable effort in bowing 5-3 to the Montréal Canadiens, but lost defenceman Claire Alexander.

Alexander was carried from the Forum’s playing surface in the third period and taken to hospital with a severely damaged knee after being blindsided by the Canadiens’ truculent centreman Doug Risebrough. He is out indefinitely.

The injury forced coach Red Kelly to move Bob Neely and Mike Pelyk into the regular defence rotation and this proved part and parcel of the Leafs losing a 3-2 lead and the game in the last two minutes and 31 seconds.

Last week in Toronto, the Leafs’ speedy winger Errol Thompson shattered his left wrist when thumped by a bodycheck in a game against the Los Angeles Kings and he will be lost for two months.

As the Leafs are sadly lacking in a minor league affiliate where replacements can be found, these key setbacks will pay a toll unless something miraculous happens.

Kelly was mystified earlier this week by worsening conditions.

Kelly cautiosuly surveyed what was on the horizon by again dipping into his metaphysical bag of goodies. Last year Kelly had a brief fling with pyramid power.

“I don’t know what’s happening,” Kelly confessed. “Who do you think I am, Jeane Dixon?” he said in reference to the erratic psychic.

Last night he strolled from pursuing newsmen and offered little further in the way of assessment.

The Leafs, on the ice, displayed poise in lulling the Canadiens into second period submission.

After Yvan Cournoyer and Guy Lafleur gave the Canadiens a 2-0 first-period lead on power-play goals, the Leafs climbed back with Lanny McDonald scoring on a power play at 1:30 of the second period and sophomore Don Ashby tying the score less than two minutes later.

“We played right into their hands,” winger Steve Shutt said. Shutt scored the eventual game-winner at 17:58 of the third period.

“We’re an offensive team and as soon as we sit back and relax we lose our effectiveness. They slowed the pace and we were lulled by it. I’m taking nothing from the Leafs because that’s how they had to play us.”

Dave Williams gave the Leafs a 3-2 lead at 6:43 of the third period on a defensive lapse by the Canadiens, who allowed him to go in untouched ands coop his own rebound under Ken Dryden.

After Williams’ score, the Canadiens pressured the Leafs and were repeatedly turned back by goalie Wayne Thomas, who, after a dreadful start this season, played his best game in stopping 28 shots.

The Canadiens finally penetrated when a loose puck bounced off Leaf defenceman Brian Glennie and Lafleur had a clear path to the net. He beat Thomas with a wrist shot to the top corner.

Jacques Lemaire scored into an open net at 19:30 and shot the Canadiens’ Norris Division lead to 7-2-0. The Leafs have last place all to themselves with a 1-3-3 mark.

The Leafs operated with Pelyk, Neely, Glennie and Ian Turnbull on their blueline after Alexander was taken to hospital and their star, Borje Salming, retired early with influenza and dizzy spells.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, October 22, 1976

1st Period
TOR PEN – 02:23 – Boutette, high sticking
MTL PEN – 02:23 – Houle, high sticking
TOR PEN – 07:51 – Sittler, high sticking
MTL PP GOAL – 08:29 – Cournoyer (Lambert, Lapointe)
TOR PEN – 10:44 – Salming, tripping
TOR PEN – 15:55 – McDonald, high sticking
MTL PP GOAL – 15:58 – Lafleur (Lemaire)
MTL PEN – 19:44 – Tremblay, boarding

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 01:30 – McDonald (Weir, Sittler)
TOR GOAL – 03:07 – Ashby (McKenny, Thomas)
MTL PEN – 17:51 – Risebrough, high sticking
TOR PEN – 17:51 – McKenny, high sticking

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 03:14 – Thomas, roughing
MTL PEN – 03:14 – Risebrough, charging
MTL PEN – 04:09 – Savard, tripping
TOR GOAL – 06:43 – Williams (Valiquette)
MTL GOAL – 17:29 – Lafleur (Savard, Lapointe)
MTL GOAL – 17:58 – Shutt (Lafleur, Lapointe)
MTL EN GOAL – 19:36 – Lemaire (Roberts)

MTL – Dryden (W, 31-34)
TOR – Thomas (L, 28-32)

MTL – 11+11+11 = 33
TOR – 12+10+12 = 34

MTLGoaltenders: Ken Dryden, Dave Elenbaas. Defence: Pierre Bouchard, Guy Lapointe, Bill Nyrop, Jim Roberts, Larry Robinson, Serge Savard. Forwards: Yvan Cournoyer (C), Bob Gainey, Réjean Houle, Doug Jarvis, Guy Lafleur, Yvon Lambert, Jacques Lemaire, Peter Mahovlich, Doug Risebrough, Steve Shutt, Mario Tremblay.
TORGoaltenders: Gord McRae, Wayne Thomas. Defence: Claire Alexander, Brian Glennie, Jim McKenny, Mike Pelyk, Borje Salming, Ian Turnbull. Forwards: Don Ashby, Pat Boutette, Scott Garland, Inge Hammarstrom, Lanny McDonald, Bob Neely, Darryl Sittler (C), Jack Valiquette, Stan Weir, Dave Williams.

MTL – 7-2-0 (.778)
TOR – 1-3-3 (.357)