Game 583 – Canadiens 6, Maple Leafs 3

Game 583
Canadiens 6, Maple Leafs 3
Saturday, February 3, 1979
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

At weddings, they throw rice. That’s tradition.

At the end of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 6-3 loss to the Montréal Canadiens Saturday night, a fan threw a roll of toilet paper. That, in the fan’s mind, might also become tradition.

While it was the Leafs’ hope to hold their own against the top teams in the National Hockey League this season, Toronto has not beaten a team with a record better than .500 in its past eight meetings with the NHL powers.

The last time they won against one of the prime contenders for the Stanley Cup was December 2 against the New York Rangers. The Leafs have not beaten the Canadiens in their past 14 attempts, since November 17, 1976.

The script for Saturday night was not unlike that of previous Leafs-Habs matches. Goalie Mike Palmateer stopped Montréal cold for the first period while the Leafs outplayed Montréal and took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Borje Salming, who played about half his shifts as a centre.

Then, in the second period, mistakes and breaks added up to four Montréal goals. Palmateer made a save on Pierre Mondou, but his teammates failed to clear  the puck and Steve Shutt poked in his first of three goals for the night.

Larry Robinson’s slapshot on a power play hit defenceman Ian Turnbull’s stick and deflected high into the net. Réjean Houle deked Palmateer far away from the goal post and slid the puck in behind him for Montréal’s first well-earned goal.

Toronto captain Darryl Sittler put Leafs back into the game, 3-2, on a backhand that went into the Canadiens’ net off the pad of goalie Ken Dryden. Then Robinson tucked in his second of the evening on another play in which the Leaf defence was unable to clear the puck.

The third period was no more than an epilogue, with Shutt scoring two more – once off the hip of Salming on a power play – and Sittler finishing off the Toronto offensive.

The Montréal lineup was not typically awesome. Defenceman Guy Lapointe missed the game with a severe cold and Mario Tremblay cancelled out just before the match, feeling weak after a bout of the flu. Doug Risebrough and Jacques Lemaire were out of their usual centre positions with dislocated shoulders and were joined on the sidelines by Bob Gainey after the first period.

Without their play-making centre and checking forwards, the Habs looked rather like a bolstered version of the American Hockey League’s Nova Scotia Voyageurs, placing Cam Connor, Dave Lumley and Dan Newman in uniform.

“The new guys have been playing well,” said Montréal coach Scotty Bowman, who is in New York this week coaching the NHL all-stars. “With the lineup we had tonight (Saturday), we didn’t have much flexibility. I like to go with four lines and tonight we were down to three.

“I guess Leafs knew we had some of our defensive players out and were trying to get some offence by moving Salming up front, but Mark Napier, Newman and Connor gave us good games and Robinson was the dominating player on the ice.”

“It wasn’t just the mistakes in the Toronto end,” Robinson said. “That would be an easy explanation. You’ve got to give the credit to the guys who forechecked. Tonight shows that our drafts have been good picks. We really needed them this year.”

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, February 5, 1979

1st Period
MTL PEN – 04:34 – Engblom, hooking
MTL PEN – 09:03 – Chartraw, slashing / high sticking double minor
TOR PEN – 09:03 – Williams, high sticking + misconduct
TOR PEN – 11:05 – Turnbull, tripping
TOR GOAL – 17:30 – Salming (Hutchison)

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 01:57 – Shutt (Mondou, Lafleur)
TOR PEN – 02:10 – Quenneville, holding
MTL PP GOAL – 02:37 – Robinson (Houle, Lambert)
MTL GOAL – 09:11 – Houle (Napier, Robinson)
MTL PEN – 11:55 – Mondou, cross checking
TOR GOAL – 16:02 – Sittler (Salming)
MTL GOAL – 19:29 – Robinson (Napier, Lambert)

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 03:51 – Turnbull, interference
MTL PP GOAL – 05:26 – Shutt (Larouche, Lafleur)
MTL GOAL – 08:40 – Shutt (Engblom, Savard)
MTL PEN – 09:10 – Lafleur, tripping
TOR PP GOAL – 10:43 – Sittler (Maloney, McDonald)

MTL – Dryden (W, 27-30)
TOR – Palmateer (L, 25-31)

MTLGoaltenders: Ken Dryden, Michel Larocque. Defence: Rick Chartraw, Brian Engblom, Larry Robinson, Serge Savard. Forwards: Cam Connor, Bob Gainey, Réjean Houle, Doug Jarvis, Guy Lafleur, Yvon Lambert, Pierre Larouche, Dave Lumley, Pierre Mondou, Mark Napier, Dan Newman, Steve Shutt.
TORGoaltenders: Paul Harrison, Mike Palmateer. Defence: Dave Burrows, Dave Hutchison, Joel Quenneville, Borje Salming, Ian Turnbull, Ron Wilson. Forwards: John Anderson, Pat Boutette, Jerry Butler, Ron Ellis, Jimmy Jones, Dan Maloney, Lanny McDonald, Walt McKechnie, Lorne Stamler, Darryl Sittler (C), Dave Williams.

MTL – 36-9-7 (.760)
TOR – 21-21-10 (.500)