Maple Leafs 1, Canadiens 0
Wednesday, November 17, 1976
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario
While the Montréal Canadiens breeze through the rest of the National Hockey League, the Adams Division continues to play havoc with the defending Stanley Cup champions.
The Toronto Maple Leafs supplied their version of the Adams Division blues last night at the Gardens by defeating the Canadiens 1-0 behind the outstanding goaltending of rookie Mike Palmateer.
Palmateer, the cocky but effective 22 year old who was summoned from the minors when veteran Wayne Thomas was sputtering, silenced Canadien guns with a Vézina Trophy performance in stopping 39 shots before the roaring support of 16,485 fans.
It was the Canadiens’ fourth loss in 21 games, all to Adams Division teams. The Boston Bruins have defeated them twice and the Buffalo Sabres once.
Palmateer withstood saves of Canadiens attackers with the poise usually displayed by veterans in posting his second shutout in a row. The former Toronto Marlboro star was in the nets when the Leafs defeated the Vancouver Canucks 3-0 Saturday.
“We had the chances. There were some bad breaks around their net but you can’t take anything away from Palmateer’s performance. He played exceptionally well,” Canadiens coach Scotty Bowman said.
The Leafs played an exceptionally well-controlled game, checking the Canadiens with authority in finally reaching .500 in the still-young season.
The win, which was engineered on a first-period goal by Lanny McDonald, brought the Leafs’ record after 18 games to 7-7-4.
Paralleling the performance of Palmateer was Vézina Trophy winner Ken Dryden, who stopped 29 Leaf shots.
The Canadiens, who have scored a league-leading 102 goals this season while giving up only 45, were shut out for the first time in 169 games.
The Canadiens started quickly but Steve Shutt and Réjean Houle were foiled on great chances by Palmateer. The Leafs began to turn the tide and McDonald connected at 8:26 when he snapped a 40-footer behind Dryden after taking an Ian Turnbull passout.
The fast-skating Canadiens were hampered by ice conditions that weren’t first rate but then again it takes two teams to play the game.
“The ice wasn’t exactly what you would call ideal but it affected both teams. It may have affected us a bit more because of our style but I don’t know,” Shutt said.
Guy Lafleur, the NHL’s leading scorer with 33 points, missed three glorious scoring chances and said he “wasn’t all that impressed” by Palmateer’s performance.
“He played well, but we missed too many chances and made him look good,” Lafleur said.
Dryden, on the other hand, praised his colleague. “It was obvious he played well. It was an honest shutout and he earned it.”
Leafs coach Red Kelly, whose pupils played as if they did indeed adhere to a system, said Palmateer’s ability to withstand pressure has been remarkable.
“His confidence is good and he doesn’t get rattled,” Kelly said. “Even in the third period when they came bearing down on him he stood his ground.
“This was a big win for us because it levels us at .500.”
The Leafs are nine points back of the division leading Bruins, who are playing amazing hockey under coach Don Cherry’s tutelage.
“We’re not up there in utopia yet,” Cherry said earlier yesterday. “The guys have got a bit cocky because of our success. They think we’re on a par with the Canadiens and the New York Islanders.”
“Actually this division is going to be tough. We got off to a great start, better than I ever expected, but Toronto and Buffalo will continue to move along.”
The Leafs will move along with Palmateer playing as he is and Thomas giving him pointers as he has on the different shooters around the league.
“We talked between periods on what to expect. I feel very confident,” Palmateer said.
The Leafs play the Minnesota North Stars at Maple Leaf Gardens Saturday, then head for Montréal and a rematch with the Canadiens Sunday.
NOTES: John Van Boxmeer, the Canadiens utility man, has asked to be traded. Van Boxmeer, who has spent more time in press boxes than in uniform this season, said Bowman promised him a trade if he wasn’t playing. “Don’t think I couldn’t help Colorado,” he said in reference to the struggling Rockies.
Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, November 18, 1976
TOR GOAL – 08:26 – McDonald (Sittler, Turnbull)
MTL PEN – 12:08 – Shutt, hooking
TOR PEN – 16:14 – Turnbull, high sticking
MTL PEN – 00:42 – Lambert, high sticking
TOR PEN – 03:41 – Glennie, fighting major
MTL PEN – 03:41 – Shutt, fighting major
TOR PEN – 04:31 – Turnbull, delay of game
MTL PEN – 14:45 – Mahovlich, slashing
MTL PEN – 05:35 – Houle, tripping
TOR PEN – 10:28 – McDonald, tripping
TOR – Palmateer (W + SO, 39-39)
MTL – Dryden (L, 29-30)
SHOTS ON GOAL
TOR – 9+14+7 = 30
MTL – 9+14+16 = 39
TOR – Goaltenders: Mike Palmateer, Wayne Thomas. Defence: Randy Carlyle, Brian Glennie, Jim McKenny, Borje Salming, Ian Turnbull. Forwards: Don Ashby, Pat Boutette, Scott Garland, Inge Hammarstrom, Lanny McDonald, Bob Neely, Darryl Sittler (C), Jack Valiquette, Tiger Williams.
MTL – Goaltenders: Ken Dryden, Michel Larocque. Defence: Pierre Bouchard, Rick Chartraw, Guy Lapointe, Bill Nyrop, Larry Robinson, Serge Savard. Forwards: Yvan Cournoyer (C), Bob Gainey, Réjean Houle, Doug Jarvis, Guy Lafleur, Yvon Lambert, Peter Mahovlich, Doug Risebrough, Steve Shutt, Mario Tremblay, Murray Wilson.
⭐ Mike Palmateer (TOR)
⭐⭐ Ken Dryden (MTL)
⭐⭐⭐ Borje Salming (TOR)