Playoff Game 65 – Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 2

Playoff Game 65
Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 2
Stanley Cup Semifinals, Game 2
Thursday, May 4, 1978
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

On the first shift of the game, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Dan Maloney wrapped an arm around the neck of Guy Damien Lafleur and dragged him along the boards like a rag doll.

Later, Randy Carlyle stuffed a mitt in Lafleur’s face and pushed him to the ice. These kinds of tactics succeeded in holding Lafleur to only two goals and an assist, but they were enough to give the Montréal Canadiens a 3-2 victory at The Forum last night and a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup semi-finals.

The series shifts to Toronto for games tomorrow night and Tuesday night.

A crowd of 17,049 saw a completely different game from Tuesday’s opener. This time, Canadien netminder Ken Dryden was sharp, holding the Leafs off in the third period with save after flashy save. This time, the Canadiens started off hot, but quickly cooled off and allowed the Leafs to tie the score in the second period.

An enraged Dave “Tiger” Williams scolded referee Bryan Lewis when the game ended, but it was Lafleur, not Lewis, who sank the Leafs last night. Twice, he was left unguarded near the Leaf net and twice he scored, with the winner coming at 15:32 of the second period on a power play. “We were our own worst enemy,” said Larry Robinson, who shrugged off a pulled shoulder muscle and performed so well – on defence and at left wing on the Canadien power play – he was selected the first star ahead of Lafleur. “I still don’t think we’re playing our best hockey.”

“We’re guilty of letting down at the odd time and not skating, letting them come at us. The Leafs played a little more physically tonight. Basically, they played the same style as they played against the Islanders. Their game is lots of hard work. When we weren’t skating, we let them play their game.”

“The same thing happened to us in the second game against Detroit,” mused Montréal coach Scotty Bowman. “We were up 2- 0 and they came back and tied it, but that time we didn’t get the third goal, they did, in the first minute of the third period.”

The Canadiens recovered to take that series, four games to one. If the Leafs are to come that close, coach Roger Neilson said, it will take more hard work in the corners and along the boards.

“We feel now more like we did coming home from Long Island,” said Neilson, still fuming over the penalty call on the Leafs’ George Ferguson that led to the winning goal. “We played well tonight. We’re coming on now. In Toronto, we’ll probably have to hit a lot more. Of course, we’ve got to catch them first.”

A well-choreographed collapse by Doug Risebrough led to the winner by Lafleur. Risebrough went down with arms flailing and legs kicking when bumped by Ferguson, and Lewis called a hooking penalty. With half a minute remaining on the man advantage, Robinson slid the puck to Guy Lapointe, who slid the puck to Lafleur, who slid the puck just inside the far goal post to make it 3-2.

“We didn’t like the penalty on Fergy,” Neilson sniffed. “It was a dubious hook. When they got the power play, Trevor Johansen was hooked in the corner and no penalty was called. Right after that, Lafleur scored.”

The Canadiens did not open as strongly as they did in the first game, but they were powerful enough. This time they put the puck behind Mike Palmateer after a little more than four minutes.

Toronto had the first good scoring chance but Dryden, shaky as a man on stilts in the opener, made rapid-fire stick saves on Maloney and Darryl Sittler. He was sharp again late in the period, kicking aside Lanny McDonald’s hard shot right off a faceoff, but was not tested again.

Palmateer, meanwhile, had to contend with the usual swarm of Canadiens at his goal mouth. Montréal’s first goal, a tip-in of a power-play slapshot by Lapointe at 4:01, was scored by Robinson. Yvon Lambert was right in front also, with no Toronto defenceman in sight. Carlyle was in the box for holding Yvan Cournoyer.

The Leafs had a full complement of men on the ice three minutes later, but that did not prevent Lafleur from working his way free from all of them. He was alone in front of Palmateer when Réjean Houle’s pass arrived. The easy loft over a diving Palmateer was Lafleur’s fourth goal of the 1978 playoffs.

But suddenly, early in the second period, the Canadiens’ fire went out. It may have been coincidence, but the Leafs’ resurgence began when Neilson copied a page from Bowman’s book and moved Ian Turnbull up from defence to left wing and freed Mike Pelyk from the cobwebs that had anchored him to the bench. Bowman often uses defencemen such as Pierre Bouchard and Robinson on the wings.

Moments after Turnbull’s shift, the Leafs got their offence going. A lead pass from Johansen sent Sittler racing past Doug Jarvis into the corner to Dryden’s left. Sittler sent a pass into the slot that Turnbull flipped into the net for his sixth goal of the playoffs.

Before the period was half over, the Leafs had tied it on a power-play goal by Maloney, his first in 29 career playoff games. Sittler set this one up also, taking Turnbull’s errant shot in the corner and feeding a pass to the unguarded Maloney. By this time, the Leafs had worked their way into a 14-11 advantage in shots on goal, a far cry from the series opener when they went more than 21 minutes without forcing Dryden to make a save and wound up being outshot 36- 15.

Neilson said he moved Turnbull, who had been seeing about 40 minutes of work per game on defence, to the forward line to make up for the absence of Williams. The “Tiger” bruised a knee in the first period and did not take the ice again until he rushed at Lewis.

In the dressing room after the game, Williams refused an ice pack. “I’m not hurt,” he said. “I was benched. I missed a check.”

Dryden made his most important saves of the evening with five minutes to play, blocking a drive by Ron Ellis and then stopping not one, but two pokes at the rebound by Maloney.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, May 5, 1978

1st Period
TOR PEN – 03:34 – Carlyle, holding
MTL PP GOAL – 04:01 – Robinson (Lapointe, Lafleur)
MTL PEN – 04:17 – Houle, hooking
MTL GOAL – 06:46 – Lafleur (Houle, Mondou)
TOR PEN – 13:50 – Williams, tripping
TOR PEN – 19:27 – Williams, holding

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 05:47 – Turnbull (Sittler, Johansen)
MTL PEN – 06:47 – Gainey, hooking
TOR PP GOAL – 08:35 – Maloney (Sittler, Turnbull)
TOR PEN – 14:11 – Ferguson, hooking
MTL PP GOAL – 15:32 – Lafleur (Lapointe, Robinson)

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 05:46 – Lemaire, holding

MTL – Dryden (W, 21-23)
TOR – Palmateer (L, 23-26)

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