Game 573 – Canadiens 9, Maple Leafs 5

Game 573
Canadiens 9, Maple Leafs 5
Sunday, November 21, 1976
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

Since Wayne Thomas left the Montréal Canadiens with a lot of class when he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, it was only fitting that his former teammates were trying to win back his job.

Thomas’ replacement, rookie Mike Palmateer, was chased from the net to a place on the end of the bench as the Canadiens unleashed the heavy artillery in gunning down the Leafs 9-5 at the Forum yesterday.

Palmateer, the Leafs’ savior in many of the 11 games he has played since taking over from Thomas, was atrocious, and with 6:50 left in the game the rookie was gone and Thomas put back in.

“Wayne deserves to be playing,” commented Steve Shutt, who did his part in the attack on Palmateer with three goals to give him a National Hockey League-leading 23 this season.

“He’s a good goalie and I’m glad to see him stand in there and make big saves after being thrown in like that,” Shutt added in reference to the six saves, four of them great, in finishing out the game.

“Actually, if you want to know the truth about it I wish I could have scored again. I was gunning for my fourth.”

So, for the time being, Palmateer’s dazzling heroics end and back to Earth falls the cocky 22-year-old.

It was coach Red Kelly who called for Palmateer from the Central Hockey League after Thomas was playing, in one word, “incompetent” hockey.

After coming to the Leafs from the Habs at the start of last season, Thomas blossomed into a first-rate backstop and the Leafs were banking on a repeat performance this year. They may still get it.

“It was an off day for me, I guess,” Palmateer said. “You don’t have to worry. It was just one game.”

It was a game in which the Canadiens avenged the Leafs and Palmateer’s 1-0 shutout of the Stanley Cup defending champions last Wednesday in Toronto.

“The guys were really put off about that one,” the soon-to-be ex-Canadien John Van Boxmeer said. “They’ve been gearing themselves all week to try and embarrass the Leafs. They were sick when they read the stuff about some rookie gunning them down.”

Although the Leafs scored five time, they caught Ken Dryden, the Vézina Trophy winner, on a bad night, whereas the nine goals the Canadiens scored could easily have been 15.

The Canadiens have scored 117 goals in 23 games, 37 more than their nearest rivals, the Boston Bruins.

Opening up the game and challenging the Habs in a shooting match is suicidal. The Leafs did just that, and learned the hard way.

“We’re giving up a few too many goals (53 this season) than I would like,” Canadiens coach Scotty Bowman said, “but there’s nothing much you can do with a team that gets the scoring chances we’re getting.”

“The last few games we’ve been a bit tight but we’re checking pretty well. Don’t forget we’re playing four lines, so guys like Shutt and Lafleur aren’t getting the ice time they would on another team.”

If they were getting that extra ice time the NHL owners would need to call an immediate meeting and call for an equalization draft.

Shutt, a 45-goal scorer last season, has devleoped into the best left winger in the league and Lafleur is perhaps the best player in hockey today. They are tied for the NHL scoring lead with 37 points, seven ahead of the Los Angeles Kings’ Marcel Dionne.

“The difference between this year and last is, well, 20 goals,” Shutt chuckled. “Actually, I’m just going about my business. I don’t feel any pressure, any commitment to score a goal every night.

“I don’t approach the game with the idea of scoring. That attitude places a lot of unnecessary pressure on you. There’s enough pressure just playing the game.

“The goals are great but are only made more pleasant by the fact the team is winning. If I don’t score it doesn’t bother me the slightest as long as we’re winning.”

Larry Robinson added two goals for the Canadiens with singles going to Réjean Houle, Yvon Lambert, Jacques Lemaire and Guy Lapointe. Scott Garland, with a pair, Don Ashby, Pat Boutette and Inge Hammarstrom scored for the Leafs, who were outshot 42-25.

The Canadiens took a quick 2-0 lead on goals by Lemaire and Lapointe, but Garland, Ashby and Hammarstrom pulled the Leafs ahead 3-2 by 14:11 of the first-period. Shutt and Garland traded goals late in the period and the Leafs held a 4-3 lead.

The Canadiens then regrouped and poured it on. Tightening up in front of a shaky Dryden, they ran their Norris Division record to 16-4-3. The Leafs remain in third place in the Adams Division with an 8-8-4 mark.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, November 21, 1976

1st Period
TOR PEN – 00:53 – Williams, interference
MTL PP GOAL – 01:52 – Lemaire (Lafleur, Robinson)
TOR PEN – 03:46 – Glennie, holding
MTL PP GOAL – 03:53 – Lapointe (Lambert, Risebrough)
TOR GOAL – 06:50 – Garland (Neely, Ashby)
MTL PEN – 08:00 – Chartraw, interference
TOR GOAL – 10:21 – Ashby (Garland, McKenny)
TOR GOAL – 14:11 – Hammarstrom (McDonald, McKenny)
MTL GOAL – 15:16 – Shutt (Chartraw, Nyrop)
TOR GOAL – 15:36 – Garland (Turnbull, Ashby)
TOR PEN – 17:02 – Glennie, high sticking
MTL PEN – 18:28 – Lambert, high sticking
TOR PEN – 18:28 – Palmateer, high sticking

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 02:41 – Lambert (Risebrough)
MTL GOAL – 06:01 – Robinson (Mahovlich, Cournoyer)
MTL PEN – 07:56 – Chartraw, charging
MTL GOAL – 15:45 – Shutt (Lafleur, Lemaire)
MTL GOAL – 16:24 – Robinson (Lafleur, Lemaire)

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 05:07 – Tremblay, elbowing
MTL GOAL – 07:23 – Shutt (Nyrop, Tremblay)
MTL GOAL – 12:27 – Houle (Gainey)
TOR GOAL – 13:34 – Boutette (Salming)

MTL – Dryden (W, 20-25)
TOR – Palmateer (L, 27-36), Thomas (6-6)

MTL – 13+13+16 = 42
TOR – 8+9+8 = 25

MTLGoaltenders: 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, Jacques Lemaire, Peter Mahovlich, Doug Risebrough, Steve Shutt, Mario Tremblay.
TORGoaltenders: Mike Palmateer, Wayne Thomas. Defence: Claire Alexander, Randy Carlyle, Brian Glennie, Jim McKenny, Borje Salming, Ian Turnbull, Kurt Walker. Forwards: Don Ashby, Pat Boutette, Scott Garland, Inge Hammarstrom, Lanny McDonald, Bob Neely, Darryl Sittler (C), Jack Valiquette, Dave Williams.

MTL – 16-4-3 (.761)
TOR – 8-8-4 (.500)