Game 576 – Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 2

Game 576
Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 2
Wednesday, October 26, 1977
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

The Toronto Maple Leafs failed to match the precision and artistry displayed by the Montréal Canadiens last night at Maple Leaf Gardens but they got the job done in tying the defending Stanley Cup champions 2-2.

The Leafs, knockout winners in the battle of heavyweights with two wins over the Philadelphia Flyers last weekend, were completely outclassed in the opening 40 minutes last night. However, they rebounded with a strong third period, showing surprising endurance.

The closeness of the score was not indicative of the play. Territorially, the Canadiens dominated, forging a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by defenceman Larry Robinson and Steve Shutt.

Rookie Jim Jones, a defensive specialist, scored his first National Hockey League goal at 12:58 of the third period as the Leafs applied substantial pressure. The tying goal, by defenceman Ian Turnbull, deflected off Robinson’s stick and behind Ken Dryden at 18:36.

Turnbull once again proved his value in the clutch. Often assailed for his lazy play, he has come up with the big play time and time again. Last night’s goal, his fourth of the season, capped just another average night.

The Canadiens came out flying and tested Mike Palmateer often in the first period but the Leaf netminder turned them back on numerous occasions.

After two periods, in which the Canadiens had outshot the Leafs 30-15, the score should have read 5-0 instead of 2-0.

Turnbull’s goal was the culmination of tenacious Leaf forechecking in the Canadiens’ zone, a style they exhibited throughout the final period.

The Canadiens’ defence, weakened because of the absence of Guy Lapointe with a groin injury, was further sapped of strength as coach Scotty Bowman forced Robinson and Savard into exhaustive, extra duty.

Leafs checkers finally found the Canadiens vulnerable and Leaf coach Roger Neilson employed the tight checking of Jones, a discard from the Boston Bruins’ chain, alongside centre Don Ashby and the makeshift unit put the Leafs back in the game.

Initially, Neilson had planned to use the line of Errol Thompson, George Ferguson and Ron Ellis to check the Canadiens’ top unit of Shutt, Jacques Lemaire and Guy Lafleur. The results were less than adequate as the high-scoring line had at least five good scoring chances.

“We were over-anxious in their end for the first two periods,” Neilson said.

It was the third game in four nights for the Canadiens, who continue to control league play as well as first-place in the Norris Division. After eight league tests, the Habs have a 6-0-2 mark.

“Actually, I’m satisfied with the tie,” Bowman said. “We’re coming off five road games in 10 days. We were dragging in the third period.

“Also, the Lapointe out I had to go with Savard and Robinson for extra duty killing penalties and that was also tiring. It was also pretty warm in here and that cut down on the play of the top offensive players – guys like Lanny McDonald.”

As both teams sweltered along with a sellout crowd of 16,485, Shutt missed three great scoring chances in the first two periods. His goal, which followed a power-play score by Robinson on a long slapshot, resulted from a three-on-one breakaway with Lafleur and Lemaire.

The Habs controlled the area between the bluelines until the third period surge by the Leafs forced them into botched plays and little offence.

“I thought we controlled things in the first period and play evened out in the second. As for Turnbull’s goal, I had it marked but it changed direction in mid flight,” Dryden said.

Bowman applauded the effort of Palmateer, who made 34 saves. Dryden stopped 26 Leaf drives.

“We always seem to get up for the Montréal games,” Palmateer said. “I’ve been with the team for five games against Montréal and we’ve tied three, won one and lost one. It’s just hard to explain’ They seem to bring out the best in us.”

Lafleur proved himself the most dangerous man on the ice and was directly responsible for the Leafs taking three first-period penalties. Assists on both goals gave Lafleur the league’s scoring lead.

The tie ran the Leafs’ record after six games to 3-1-2 in the competitive Adams Division. Their next match is at the Gardens Saturday night, against the abrasive Detroit Red Wings.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, October 27, 1977

1st Period
TOR PEN – 00:57 – Palmateer, interference
TOR PEN – 04:40 – Turnbull, slashing
MTL PEN – 04:40 – Lafleur, slashing
TOR PEN – 06:51 – Sittler, slashing
MTL PP GOAL – 08:24 – Robinson (Cournoyer, Lafleur)
MTL GOAL – 13:43 – Shutt (Lemaire, Lafleur)

2nd Period
MTL PEN – 01:16 – Chartraw, hooking
MTL PEN – 05:47 – Shutt, elbowing
TOR PEN – 13:22 – Boutette, hooking
MTL PEN – 14:05 – Lafleur, charging
MTL PEN – 17:26 – Savard, hooking

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 00:28 – Williams, tripping
TOR GOAL – 12:58 – Jones (Ashby, Turnbull)
TOR GOAL – 18:36 – Turnbull

TOR – Palmateer (T, 34-36)
MTL – Dryden (T, 26-28)

TOR – 5+10+13 = 28
MTL – 19+11+6 = 36

TORGoaltenders: Gord McRae, Mike Palmateer. Defence: Randy Carlyle, Brian Glennie, Trevor Johansen, Borje Salming, Ian Turnbull, Kurt Walker. Forwards: Don Ashby, Pat Boutette, Ron Ellis, George Ferguson, Inge Hammarstrom, Jimmy Jones, Lanny McDonald, Darryl Sittler (C), Errol Thompson, Jack Valiquette, Dave Williams.
MTLGoaltenders: Ken Dryden, Michel Larocque. Defence: Pierre Bouchard, Rick Chartraw, 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, Murray Wilson.

TOR – 3-1-2 (.667)
MTL – 6-0-2 (.875)