Playoff Game 71 – Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 4 (OT)

Playoff Game 71
Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 4 (OT)
Stanley Cup Quarterfinals, Game 4
Sunday, April 22, 1979
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Larry Robinson scored the winning goal at 4:14 of overtime while the Toronto Maple Leafs’ David “Tiger” Williams was in the penalty box last night and the Montréal Canadiens beat the Leafs 5-4 to sweep the Stanley Cup best-of-seven quarter final in four games.

Williams rushed from the penalty box as the goal was scored, heading for referee Bob Myers. He was restrained by teammate Dan Maloney.

The Canadiens got on the scoreboard early with a pair of first-period goals by Yvon Lambert and Larry Robinson.

Lambert’s goal was merely a continuation of the bad bounces and miscues that have plagued the Leaf defence through all four games of the quarter-final series.

Lambert was cutting toward the Leafs’ net from the corner and his pass in front deflected off the skate of Borje Salming, behind Paul Harrison.

Harrison started in goal for Toronto after Mike Palmateer required an operation yesterday afternoon to relieve pressure from bleeding inside the muscle of his left forearm. He was injured in a collision with Mark Napier Saturday night.

Robinson’s goal was made easy by some fancy freewheeling with the puck in the Toronto end by Bob Gainey while the teams were playing five a side.

Gainey skated two big loops near the Toronto blueline to draw everyone’s attention, then passed off to Jacques Lemaire, who fed Robinson cruising alone in front of the net.

Early in the second period, the Leafs were able to apply a bit of pressure to Ken Dryden in the Montréal net, with lines centred by Darryl Sittler and Paul Gardner.

The Canadiens furthered their advantage to 4-0 with goals by Pierre Mondou and Pat Hughes, who were unmolested in front of the Toronto goal when they took turns setting up each other.

While the Canadiens had played protective hockey for much of the first period when they led 2-0, when the lead grew to four, they became less earnest about checking and Leafs were able to close the gap to 4-2 going into the final period.

Rookie Rocky Saganiuk scored his first playoff goal, tucking Gardner’s shot to the side of the net at 14:46. Then Sittler scored his fifth of the playoffs 80 seconds later on a power play with Brian Engblom off for cross-checking.

If the Leafs were waiting for adversity as inspiration, they practically took an overdose before they became motivated.

They had lost 19 consecutive games to the Canadiens going into last night’s contest. They had dragged through a season in which they finished one game above .500. Leafs were down 3-0 in a best-of-seven quarter final series to the reigning champions.

Suddenly, in the final seven minutes of the third period, they chose to look unstoppable. Walter McKechnie and Dan Maloney scored goals 29 seconds apart on one shift to tie the match and send it to overtime as Leafs had done the night before.

John Anderson had an opportunity to put the game away with two minutes to go, but lost sight of the puck in his skates in front of Dryden. The Leafs outshot the Canadiens 14-10 in the final period.

Harrison was superlative in the final minute as the Canadiens attempted to sweep the series.

He put his glove up to deflect a shot by Guy Lafleur, then picked off a shot by Lemaire inches off the ice with two seconds remaining in the match, after Robinson was hooked as he tried to jam the puck in on the stick side.

The Leafs’ supply of second changes and tomorrows ran dry Saturday when a bench warmer scored for Montréal in the second overtime period to give the Stanley Cup defending champion a stranglehold on the quarter-final playoff series.

Cam Connor, who had seen no service during the regulation 60 minutes of play, duffed the puck under Toronto goalie Palmateer at 5:25 of the fifth period to give the Habs a 4-3 win and a 3-0 lead in the playoff series.

It was the early minutes of yesterday morning when the game finally ended. The Leafs had taken a 2-1 lead in the first period on goals by Sittler on a power play and McDonald, erasing an early Montréal lead on a shot by Napier.

Montréal regained the advantage with goals by Robinson and Lemaire in the second period.

Sittler put the match into overtime with his fourth playoff goal, bouncing a backhand pass off Montréal defenceman Guy Lapointe at 17:40 of the third period.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, April 23, 1979; photo property of The Athletic

1st Period
MTL PEN – 00:36 – Chartraw, slashing
TOR PEN – 00:36 – Hutchison, slashing
MTL PEN – 03:20 – Risebrough, elbowing
TOR PEN – 03:20 – Williams, roughing double minor
MTL PP GOAL – 06:55 – Lambert (Larouche, Lemaire)
TOR PEN – 07:35 – Salming, slashing
MTL PEN – 07:35 – Engblom, hooking
MTL GOAL – 07:57 – Robinson (Lemaire, Gainey)
MTL PEN – 16:00 – Chartraw, hooking
TOR PEN – 19:32 – McKechnie, hooking

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 08:06 – Mondou (Hughes)

MTL GOAL – 10:31 – Hughes (Gainey, Mondou)
TOR GOAL – 14:46 – Saganiuk (Gardner, Hutchison)
MTL PEN – 15:22 – Engblom, cross checking
TOR PP GOAL – 16:06 – Sittler (Boutette, Turnbull)

3rd Period
TOR GOAL – 13:29 – McKechnie (Maloney)
TOR GOAL – 13:58 – Maloney (McKechnie, Hutchison)

TOR PEN – 03:28 – Williams, high sticking
MTL PP GOAL – 04:14 – Robinson (Lapointe, Hughes)

MTL – Dryden (W, 29-33)
TOR – Harrison (L, 30-35)

MTL – 7+14+10+4 = 35
TOR – 5+11+14+3 = 33

MTLGoaltenders: Ken Dryden, Michel Larocque. Defence: Rick Chartraw, Brian Engblom, Guy Lapointe, Gilles Lupien, Larry Robinson, Serge Savard. Forwards: Cam Connor, Bob Gainey, Pat Hughes, Guy Lafleur, Yvon Lambert, Pierre Larouche, Jacques Lemaire, Pierre Mondou, Doug Risebrough.
TORGoaltenders: Pierre Hamel, Paul Harrison. Defence: Dave Burrows, Dave Hutchison, Joel Quenneville, Borje Salming, Ian Turnbull. Forwards: John Anderson, Pat Boutette, Jerry Butler, Ron Ellis, Paul Gardner, Jimmy Jones, Dan Maloney, Lanny McDonald, Walt McKechnie, Rocky Saganiuk, Darryl Sittler (C), Dave Williams.