Preseason Game 16 – Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 3

Preseason Game 16
Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 3
Wednesday, September 26, 1979
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

The Montréal Canadiens played 20 minutes of inspired hockey, the last 20 minutes, and that was all they needed last night at Maple Leaf Gardens.

The Canadiens scored four goals to come back from a two goal disadvantage and defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3 in a National Hockey League exhibition game.

Bob Gainey scored the winner at 17:55 of the third period on a wrist shot from in front of the net. It was Gainey’s second goal of the night.

Pierre Mondou had Montréal’s second goal of the game early in the third period. Mario Tremblay scored the Habs’ fifth goal into an open net at 19:51 of the final period.

The win left one statistic intact. The Leafs have not defeated the Canadiens since October of 1976. Last night’s win moved Montréal’s preseason record to 3-0-1. The Leafs, who play in Moncton tonight against the Chicago Black Hawks, are 1-2-1.

It was a discouraging loss for the Leafs because they were in control of the match for the first 40 minutes.

The Leafs had trouble doing anything wrong in the first period. They forechecked and backchecked well and rarely was there a Montréal player left standing alone in the Leaf end.

When the Canadiens were let unattended, it didn’t matter. Mike Palmateer, who started in net for Toronto, was kicking out any shot directed at him and generally making the game a trying one for the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Palmateer stopped 10 shots in the first period and a few more in the second. Denis Herron, who was Montréal’s starting netminder, was not as busy as Palmateer most of the time, but did not have as much success as Palmateer.

The Montréal goalie, acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins to replace retired Ken Dryden, allowed a slapshot from the blueline to Borje Salming early in the opening period to get by him, but Herron couldn’t be blamed completely. He had two players (one Leaf and one Canadien) standing in front of him when Salming fired the puck.

The Leafs received three penalties and the Habs one, but Toronto managed to lead 1-0 going into the second period.

The lead appeared to help the Leafs psychologically in the second. They skated much quicker and forced the play into the Montréal end most of the time.

Right winger Rocky Saganiuk, especially, responded to the lead. Ninety seconds into the second period he took a pass from Pat Boutette, spun around in front of the net and beat Herron from six feet out on the goaltender’s glove hand side. Less than six minutes later Saganiuk did it again.

He took a pass from Boutette, moved in front of the net and beat Herron, this time on the goalie’s stickhand side. It was Saganiuk’s fourth goal of the exhibition season. Last season, in 16 games with the Leafs, he had a total of three.

Palmateer was replaced by rookie Vincent Tremblay midway through the second period and after Toronto had built a 3-0 lead. The Canadiens responded by giving Tremblay a rude welcome to the National Hockey League.

Seventeen seconds after he took over from Palmateer, Rick Meagher scored for the Habs to move them to within two goals. The quick goal didn’t bother Tremblay too much, however, and it certainly didn’t dampen the Leafs’ spirits. They outshot the Canadiens 17-7.

Gainey was analytical about the whole thing. He stood in the dressing room, rubbing his head, and explained why the Montréal Canadiens had no choice but to hand the Leafs the loss.

“After the exhibition schedule is over you can’t say we’ll do it now. You have to set your tempo before the season starts. Otherwise, you may find that by the time you start moving, you’re already chasing another team.”

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, September 27, 1979

1st Period
TOR GOAL – 04:38 – Salming

MTL PEN – 05:28 – Savard
TOR PEN – 06:23 – Salming
TOR PEN – 14:47 – Salming
TOR PEN – 18:47 – Sittler

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 01:30 – Saganiuk (Boutette, Sittler)
TOR GOAL – 07:03 – Saganiuk (Boutette)
MTL GOAL – 10:19 – Meagher (Napier, Engblom)
MTL PEN – 10:19 – team
MTL PEN – 19:43 – Engblom

3rd Period
MTL GOAL – 03:16 – Mondou (Houle, Robinson)

TOR PEN – 04:43 – Turnbull
MTL GOAL – 07:26 – Gainey (Risebrough, Tremblay)
MTL PEN – 08:15 – Engblom
MTL PEN – 15:19 – Gingras
MTL GOAL – 17:55 – Gainey (Langway)
MTL EN GOAL – 19:51 – Tremblay

MTL – Herron, Larocque (W)
TOR – Palmateer, Tremblay (L)