Game 575 – Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 3

Game 575
Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 3
Wednesday, March 30, 1977
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

The Toronto Maple Leafs showed their unpredictable side and kept alive their hopes for a home-ice playoff advantage last night when they tied the Montréal Canadiens 3-3 at The Forum.

After suffering embarrassing, lopsided setbacks to the Cleveland Barons and Washington Capitals last week, the Leafs faced the unenviable task of playing the Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins in their three final National Hockey League regular-season tests.

The prospects did not appear bright, especially in light of the fact the Pittsburgh Penguins, Atlanta Flames and Los Angeles Kings, bunched three points behind the Leafs and fighting for the same home-ice advantage, had easier schedules.

The Canadiens, the best NHL club in more than a decade, had lost only one of their past 32 games and a stumbling Leaf team was the least of their worries, especially at The Forum, where they have lost once all season.

“The only way you beat us here is to hold, interfere and line five guys up at the blueline. The Leafs did it well,” left winger Steve Shutt said. “It makes for boring hockey, but you are not going to beat us any other way.”

Although the Leafs’ game was conservative, highlighted by the fact they iced the puck so often that the statistician lost count, it proved a point – when the Leafs want to put out they are a contender for the semi-finals.

The conservative formula failed to delight the crowd of 18,018, but if gave the Leafs a one-win, two-loss, two-tie mark against the Canadiens in their five meetings this season.

“Their style was a good test for us,” Canadiens coach Scotty Bowman said. “Any team we play in the playoffs will be using it, so it was an experimental evening. We’ll have to see how we can work around it.”

Lanny McDonald opened the scoring for the Leafs with his 25th goal of the season early in the first period, but Doug Jarvis tied the score at 12:49 of the period with a wrist shot on a play engineered by Serge Savard after the Leafs failed to clear the puck.

Shutt gave the Canadiens the lead at 15:50 of the second period with his 57th goal of the season, a club record, but Errol Thompson tied it for the Leafs only 63 seconds later when he converted Jim McKenny’s pass on a two-on-one break with only Jim Roberts back.

Mario Tremblay regained the lead for the Canadiens at 9:21 of the third period and Sittler closed out the scoring when he shot into the clear behind Savard and beat goalie Ken Dryden.

“A big game and a big point for us,” Leafs coach Red Kelly said. “Potentially we could get 84 points and that would assure us of a home-ice advantage, but we have a tough weekend.

“I can’t explain why we play so well against the big clubs and not so well against the weaker ones. I guess we don’t take as many chances, we check tighter.”

The Leafs had an excellent opportunity to score late in the game when Rick Chartraw was assessed a double minor for leaving the bench during an altercation between Boutette and Savard.

Savard alleged that Boutette high-sticked him and went after the little winger, whom he fought to a draw. The ice was covered in blood and it was all Savard’s.

“How they failed to score on that opportunity amazes me,” Bowman added. “They have the man advantage for four minutes and for almost three minutes their big man (Sittler) is on the bench. Is he hurt? Or did he (Kelly) even know he was there.”

The Canadiens have lost only eight of 78 games this season and even if they lose both weekend contests with the Washington Capitals they will set an NHL record of fewest losses in a season. They hold the mark of 11, set last season.

The Canadiens had a 30-24 edge in shots as the Leafs received able netminding from Mike Palmateer and a strong performance from the defence, particularly rookie Randy Carlyle, who was playing his first game after missing four with a shoulder injury.

“They lulled us to sleep. We will know what to do next time. It wasn’t a lost night completely,” Bowman added.

NOTES: The Leafs have lost winger Scott Garland for the balance of the season with a broken wrist. Garland was injured when decked by Larry Robinson’s clean open ice check…Guy Lafleur has now had at least one point in 26 consecutive games.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, March 31, 1977

1st Period
MTL PEN – 03:45 – Lemaire, hooking
TOR GOAL – 06:03 – McDonald (Boutette, Sittler)
MTL GOAL – 12:49 – Jarvis (Savard, Wilson)

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 09:39 – Turnbull, tripping
TOR PEN – 15:31 – Glennie, tripping
MTL PP GOAL – 15:50 – Shutt (Houle, Lafleur)
TOR GOAL – 16:53 – Thompson (McKenny, Ferguson)

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 04:26 – Chartraw, roughing
MTL GOAL – 09:21 – Tremblay (Lambert, Risebrough)
TOR GOAL – 10:58 – Sittler (Carlyle, Palmateer)
MTL PEN – 13:13 – team, player leaving bench
TOR PEN – 13:13 – Boutette, fighting major
MTL PEN – 13:13 – Savard, fighting major
TOR PEN – 13:13 – Turnbull, game misconduct
MTL PEN – 13:13 – Chartraw, roughing double minor + game misconduct

MTL – Dryden (T, 21-24)
TOR – Palmateer (T, 27-30)

MTL – 8+10+12 = 30
TOR – 10+7+7 = 24

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

MTL – 58-8-12 (.821)
TOR – 33-31-14 (.513)