Game 574 – Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 2

Game 574
Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 2
Wednesday, March 9, 1977
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

For any other hockey team, a loss and tie would be no cause for alarm.

However, the Montréal Canadiens were reacting as though last night’s 2-2 tie with the Toronto Maple Leafs were a tragedy.

Coach Scotty Bowman strode away from his team’s dressing room in a huff shortly after Borje Salming’s dipsy-doodle tying goal late in the third period.

Inside the room, goalie Ken Dryden, sporting a gash on his forehead from a deflected shot, was trying to pour himself a soft drink and was having trouble hitting the cup in his shaky hand.

“We’re lacking a little of our zip right now. We came off that unbeaten streak (21 games) with the loss to Buffalo and it’s taking us a little while to get back,” said the Canadiens’ Jim Roberts.

“A loss and a tie hasn’t happened to us in another instance. It’s a bit upsetting,” Dryden explained.

The Canadiens have no reason to panic. What they are feeling is withdrawal symptoms after a long addiction to winning. They are 17 points the best team in the National Hockey League with the most graceful, powerful and swift attack in the sport.

They thoroughly awed Bruce Boudreau, one of the Leafs’ reserves from the Dallas Black Hawks and an accomplice on Salming’s equalizer.

“They’re not this fast in the Central Hockey League. These guys have no low, they’re in high gear all the time. I had a breakaway in the third period, but I didn’t have any legs left,” said Boudreau, who centred the new Kid Line with Bob Warner and Paul Evans on his flanks.

“We kept taking the body, trying to wear them down. We didn’t change any plans from skating with them to hitting them. We just hit them because the opportunities were there.”

The Leafs’ checking game received a welcome boost from Jim McKenny, who chased red sweaters with astounding vigour.

“Just to show I can do more than score goals,” he said swaggering between wounded Leafs in the dressing room. McKenny scored twice in the Leafs’ 4-2 victory in Philadelphia Monday night when the team shattered a five-game winless streak.

On McKenny’s left, Inge Hammarstrom, who played double shifts for the first two periods, was nursing a lump on the back of his skull from a high Ian Turnbull pass. To his right, Brian Glennie was watching the sixth broken nose of his career – this one from a Guy Lafleur stick – swell to the right of centre of his face.

Neither man is expected to miss a game, however. Glennie said he would play with a crossbar on his helmet if necessary Saturday against Detroit.

The Leafs were seven men short last night, with injured Jack Valiquette (torn knee ligaments), Kurt Walker (torn knee ligaments), Stan Weir (broken nose), Claire Alexander (broken arm), Bob Neely (bruised ribs) and Scott Garland (bruised back) all on the side lines. Healthy, and pacing in frustration was suspended Dave Williams who received his third game misconduct of the season at Philadelphia.

Mike Palmateer, the game’s first star, was quick in the Toronto net, filled with nervous energy.

“Hyper…excited…couldn’t keep still,” said the rookie goalie who shut out the Canadiens 1-0 in their last appearance at the Gardens.

He faced 30 shots, seven fewer than Dryden, but the Canadiens chances were more of a threat to score than most of the Toronto shots. Though both sides complained that warm weather and a fast tempo made for slow ice. Boudreau said “they just kept coming at us over the boards in waves and so fast.”

Salming admitted his equalizer, which brought the sellout crowd to its feet with a lucky effort.

“I got the puck around (Guy) Lapointe then lost it. It went through Pierre Bouchard’s feet, but I didn’t do that. I’m lucky sometimes,” said the Swede.

Dryden said he had little time to react on Salming’s high flip shot, not having expected him to get through two defenders.

It was a night of catching up for the Leafs. The Canadiens carried a 1-0 advantage into the final 30 minutes on the strength of Lapointe’s first-period power-play goal. The shot sailed low past a screened Palmateer.

After a goalless second period, Leaf captain Darryl Sittler made it 1-1 with another power-play goal as he cruised around Serge Savard with a Lanny McDonald pass.

Steve Shutt put the Habs ahead with less than three minutes remaining, when his 54th of the year went in off his skate. Lafleur’s drive provided the momentum. Salming tied the match at 18:14.

He played a brilliant defensive game, diving in front of shots, checking and gloving airborne pucks. The rest of the defence still lacked cohesion.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, March 10, 1977

1st Period
TOR PEN – 03:03 – Boutette, holding
MTL PEN – 07:49 – Gainey, charging
MTL PEN – 10:43 – Bouchard, interference
TOR PEN – 14:31 – Turnbull, hooking
MTL PP GOAL – 15:28 – Lapointe (Shutt, Lafleur)

2nd Period
MTL PEN – 08:42 – Wilson, charging
TOR PEN – 08:42 – Boudreau, charging
MTL PEN – 09:18 – Jarvis, tripping
TOR PEN – 16:48 – Carlyle, hooking

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 04:48 – Risebrough, slashing
TOR PP GOAL – 05:33 – Sittler (McDonald, Salming)
MTL PEN – 14:36 – Bouchard, interference
MTL GOAL – 17:01 – Shutt (Lafleur, Robinson)
TOR GOAL – 18:14 – Salming (Boudreau)

TOR – Palmateer (T, 28-30)
MTL – Dryden (T, 35-37)

TOR – 12+9+16 = 37
MTL – 15+7+8 = 30

TORGoaltenders: Mike Palmateer, Wayne Thomas. Defence: Randy Carlyle, Brian Glennie, Jim McKenny, Tracy Pratt, Borje Salming, Ian Turnbull, Bob Warner. Forwards: Don Ashby, Bruce Boudreau, Pat Boutette, Paul Evans, George Ferguson, Inge Hammarstrom, Lanny McDonald, Darryl Sittler (C), Errol Thompson.
MTLGoaltenders: Ken Dryden, Michel Larocque. Defence: Pierre Bouchard, Rick Chartraw, Guy Lapointe, Bill Nyrop, Jim Roberts, Larry Robinson, Serge Savard. Forwards: Bob Gainey, Réjean Houle, Doug Jarvis, Guy Lafleur, Yvon Lambert, Jacques Lemaire, Doug Risebrough, Steve Shutt, Mario Tremblay, Murray Wilson.

TOR – 30-27-11 (.522)
MTL – 50-8-11 (.804)