Game 580 – Canadiens 6, Maple Leafs 3

Game 580
Canadiens 6, Maple Leafs 3
Wednesday, April 5, 1978
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

When the Toronto Maple Leafs acquired tough winger Dan Maloney from the Detroit Red Wings three weeks ago, coach Roger Neilson said the purchase put the Leafs one step closer to the Stanley Cup.

He didn’t say they had half a dozen steps to go.

Last night at Maple Leaf Gardens, the Leafs proved that contention as they conducted business aimlessly in losing 6-3 to the Montréal Canadiens before 16,485 spectators.

The score was not as lopsided as the play. The Leafs were worse, continuing their season-ending skid with their eighth loss in 10 games.

Neilson has been excusing the Leafs’ listless play in recent weeks as something that happens when a club has assured itself a playoff position and has no goal for which to shoot.

The Canadiens, on the other hand, had nothing to shoot for more than a month ago when they locked up first place in the Norris Division and took a stranglehold on a first-place finish in the National Hockey League.

Performing as if defending their Stanley Cup title, the Canadiens got goals last night from Réjean Houle, Guy Lapointe, Steve Shutt, Yvan Cournoyer, Yvon Lambert and Doug Risebrough.

Leaf captain Darryl Sittler, Lanny McDonald and Stan Weir scored for the Leafs, who were outshot 47-32 and kept from embarrassment by goalie Mike Palmateer’s effort.

Neilson has avoided describing the Leafs’ efforts of late as a slump and maintains that the club is gearing for the playoffs, which begin next week.

With weekend games against the Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres to end the regular season, the Leafs will have a difficult time entering post-season action on a winning note.

The Canadiens controlled play throughout the game, although the Leafs came to within one goal on two occasions before the floodgates finally burst during the third period.

Neilson believes his players will be ready next week and conceded that his team had run into a hot opponent.

“Their three power-play goals were the difference,” Neilson observed. “The Canadiens are a great team and unless you’re on top of your game, they will comb you.

“When it gets right down to it, they outplayed us from start to finish.”

Canadien coach Scotty Bowman thought Montréal worked hard. “There wasn’t much grinding and bumping out there. I guess both clubs are waiting for the playoffs.”

“We were passing the puck well on the power play and that led to our success,” Habs’ captain Cournoyer said. “I guess the Leafs maybe didn’t have anything to play for.” Asked if the Canadiens had anything to play for, he said “sure, we have team records to play for. We have lost only nine games this season. We want to keep it that way.”

The Leafs could not control the Canadiens’ devastating power play. On three of four manpower advantages, Houle, Shutt and Cournoyer scored goals.

Houle opened the scoring at 5:05 of the first period, when allowed to roam loose to the left side of Palmateer. Houle whipped a low shot past the Toronto goalie three seconds after Jerry Butler began serving a holding penalty.

Lapointe drilled a shot between Palmateer’s legs less than a minute later to make it 2-0, but Sittler narrowed the margin early in the second period when he wheeled behind the Canadien defence and beat Ken Dryden.

Shutt gave the Canadiens a 3-1 lead at 7:08 of the same period, but Weir scooped a shot past Dryden to make it 3-2 early in the third. Cournoyer, Lambert and Risebrough scored consecutive goals within seven minutes of one another to break the game open. McDonald finished the scoring at 19:22.

The Canadiens received a standout effort from their defensive corps, most notably Guy Lapointe and Serge Savard. The Leafs’ defence was loose and on several occasions threw the puck to unguarded areas.

Lapointe suffered a charley horse late in the game when hit from behind by Pat Boutette, who struck the Canadien with a raised knee.

“That was a dirty, cheap shot,” Lapointe said. “The play had moved on, I did not have the puck.”

Jacques Lemaire, centre on the powerful line with Shutt and Guy Lafleur on his flanks, figures the Leafs can turn it around for the playoffs. “They sure won’t play like this,” Lemaire said.

The Canadiens record went to 58-9-11 and the Leafs rolled back to 41-27-10.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, April 6, 1978

1st Period
MTL PEN – 01:54 – Lemaire, holding
TOR PEN – 05:02 – Butler, elbowing
MTL PP GOAL – 05:05 – Houle (Lemaire)
MTL GOAL – 06:59- Lapointe (Bouchard, Lafleur)
MTL PEN – 11:06 – Lupien, high sticking

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 01:04 – Sittler (Maloney, Turnbull)
MTL PEN – 01:44 – Lambert, tripping
TOR PEN – 06:44 – Ferguson, hooking
MTL PP GOAL – 07:08 – Shutt

3rd Period
TOR GOAL – 01:18 – Weir (Johansen)
TOR PEN – 03:53 – Salming, holding
MTL PP GOAL – 04:28 – Cournoyer (Savard, Lapointe)
MTL GOAL – 06:24 – Lambert (Tremblay, Risebrough)
MTL GOAL – 10:54 – Risebrough (Lambert, Savard)
TOR PEN – 11:52 – Boutette, holding
TOR GOAL – 19:22 – McDonald (Maloney)

MTL – Dryden (W, 29-32)
TOR – Palmateer (L, 41-47)

MTL – 15+14+18 = 47
TOR – 7+9+16 = 32

MTLGoaltenders: Ken Dryden, Michel Larocque. Defence: Pierre Bouchard, Rick Chartraw, Guy Lapointe, Gilles Lupien, Bill Nyrop, Larry Robinson, Serge Savard. Forwards: Yvan Cournoyer (C), Réjean Houle, Doug Jarvis, Guy Lafleur, Yvon Lambert, Jacques Lemaire, Pierre Mondou, Doug Risebrough, Steve Shutt, Mario Tremblay.
TORGoaltenders: Gord McRae, Mike Palmateer. Defence: Brian Glennie, Trevor Johansen, Mike Pelyk, Borje Salming, Ian Turnbull, Ron Wilson. Forwards: Pat Boutette, Jerry Butler, Ron Ellis, George Ferguson, Jimmy Jones, Dan Maloney, Lanny McDonald, Darryl Sittler (C), Jack Valiquette, Stan Weir, Dave Williams.

MTL – 58-9-11 (.814)
TOR – 41-27-10 (.590)