Game 588 – Canadiens 7, Maple Leafs 2

Game 588
Canadiens 7, Maple Leafs 2
Saturday, January 19, 1980

Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

Earlier this season, a long road trip was proclaimed the best thing to remedy the ills of the floundering Toronto Maple Leafs.

Their current road trip of seven games has had anything but a good effect.

The Leafs lost their third game in succession and their seventh in a row on the road in a 7-2 defeat to the Montréal Canadiens here Saturday. While the players are doing the best they can with what they have, they are meeting nothing but frustration.

If you’re looking for people to blame, you can’t lay it on any one person, Dave Williams said after the match.

“You can start with the goalies, work right through the team to the forwards and on up to the front office.”

The blame, John Anderson added, should not all fall on the shoulders of coach Floyd Smith. “It’s all of us. We need to take stock in ourselves.”

The inventory of which Anderson spoke should not be too harsh. On Saturday, especially in the first period, the Leafs executed plays to the best of their abilities. There were times when Toronto players made smart passes to befuddle the Montréal defence, only to have Habs goalie Denis Herron poke-check a shooter in scoring position.

It was a simple case of the Leafs running up against superior talent and doing their humble best with a difficult situation.

“The overall effort is there from everybody,” former captain Darryl Sittler said. “But the pucks are going in for them and not for us. If everybody puts out in every game, the law of averages says it has to turn around sooner or later.”

That turnaround may come this week – as early as tomorrow night when Mike Palmateer is scheduled to meet up with the Leafs in Alanta for the fourth game of the seven-game road swing. Palmateer has missed more than three weeks of action since suffering ligament damage in his left ankle.

“Three games with good goaltending would turn us around,” Sittler said. “It could be Harry (Paul Harrison) or it could be Palmy who does it. It doesn’t matter.

“But in a game like tonight, where we get behind 3-0 or 5-0, you’re playing a psychological game, fighting uphill. In a closer game, you’re more mentally up for play.”

The Leafs also have fallen into a trap by trying too hard to make up for the disaster all at once. Individual players suffering through bad seasons have been trying to turn things around all on their own by making dynamic rushes that don’t pay off.

“They don’t look like they have a plan,” Montréal checker Bob Gainey said. “Everybody’s trying to do a little bit too much. Maybe if they spread it out and did a bit less individual work…”

“They just look like a bunch of guys just trying desperately to score some goals,” Yvon Lambert said. “They don’t want to play good, disciplined hockey.”

Herron, who was personally responsible for the failure of Toronto’s best-executed plays, said he could see the reason for the Leafs’ collapse in their inability to fight back. “They went down right away, after the early goals. They’ve got potential, but I can see why they’re not doing well.”

Whatever the reason for the Toronto downfall, coach Smith has adopted a plan to go with his young players.

“We could come in here and play kitty-bar-the-door and make it a much closer game,” Smith said. “But next year, we’d have to go to the same thing and be in the same position. We have to go to a skating, offensive game.”

He added that Toronto’s poor standing this season did not have him especially worried about job security, that he knew what he had to do.

Guy Lafleur, who had two goals and two assists, led the way for the Habs, opening the scoring in a first period that saw Montréal take a 3-0 advantage. Doug Risebrough caught Pat Ribble out of position and Rod Langway blocked an Ian Turnbull shot to set up Gainey for the two other goals.

Harrison let an apparent save trickle loose as Pierre Larouche banged in a second-period goal to extend the lead to 4-0. When the Leafs tried to open up the game in the third period, Doug Jarvis belted home a clearing pass by Harrison to make it 5-0.

Pat Hickey scored for the Leafs on a backhand before Lafleur scored his second of the night. Rocky Saganiuk narrowed the score to 6-2 before Réjean Houle took a pass in the slot from Lafleur to end the scoring. Harrison faced 31 shots, while the Leafs ran into problems with Montréal checking and took only 23 at Herron, the game’s first star.

Lafleur’s goals enabled him to keep a promise he made to 9 year old Cory Gurnsey of Calgary.

Last week, young Cory was wearing a number 10 Canadiens sweater similar to the one Lafleur wears when he was stabbed eight times on his way home from school. Doctors had to cut the sweater away to treat Cory’s wounds.

When Lafleur heard about the incident, he had a number 10 Montréal sweater sent to Cory. Then he spoke to the Calgary youngster and promised that if he scored a goal against Toronto Saturday night, he would send the puck to him.

“I told the youngster that I’d try to win the game for him,” said Lafleur, who didn’t take much time to get a goal, firing in a power-play score at 4:12 of the opening period.

“It was in my mind to get a goal when that power play started,” added Lafleur. “I’m happy I got a chance to fulfill my promise to the youngster so early in the game. Now we’ll send the puck to the kid.”

Claude Mouton, public relations director for the Canadiens, indicated that Cory’s special puck would be melted on a plaque and then sent on with a matching inscription to the youngster.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, January 21, 1980

1st Period
TOR PEN – 02:56 – Salming, interference
MTL PP GOAL – 04:12 – Lafleur (Robinson, Tremblay)
MTL GOAL – 05:56 – Risebrough (Lambert)
MTL GOAL – 07:24 – Gainey (Langway)
MTL PEN – 08:49 – Langway, roughing
TOR PEN – 08:49 – Turnbull, roughing
MTL PEN – 09:20 – Houle, holding
MTL PEN – 12:13 – Houle, interference
TOR PEN – 13:27 – Turnbull, high sticking

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 03:17 – Larouche (Houle, Lafleur)
TOR PEN – 09:12 – Saganiuk, tripping
MTL PEN – 14:51 – Lupien, holding

3rd Period
MTL GOAL – 04:03 – Jarvis
TOR GOAL – 10:18 – Hickey (Butler, Salming)
MTL GOAL – 14:04 – Lafleur (Houle, Robinson)
TOR GOAL – 16:01 – Saganiuk (Anderson)
MTL GOAL – 16:52 – Houle (Lafleur, Engblom)

MTL – Herron (W, 21-23)
TOR – Harrison (L, 24-31)

MTL – 14+11+6 = 31
TOR – 10+6+7 = 23

MTLGoaltenders: Denis Herron, Michel Larocque. Defence: Rick Chartraw, Brian Engblom, Gaston Gingras, Rod Langway, Gilles Lupien, Larry Robinson. Forwards: Norm Dupont, Bob Gainey, Réjean Houle, Doug Jarvis, Guy Lafleur, Yvon Lambert, Pierre Larouche, Pierre Mondou, Mark Napier, Doug Risebrough, Mario Tremblay.
TORGoaltenders: Paul Harrison, Vincent Tremblay. Defence: Carl Brewer, Dave Burrows, Greg Hotham, Pat Ribble, Borje Salming, Ian Turnbull. Forwards: John Anderson, Laurie Boschman, Jerry Butler, Pat Hickey, Dan Maloney, Walt McKechnie, Wilf Paiement, Rocky Saganiuk, Darryl Sittler (C), Bob Stephenson, Dave Williams.

MTL – 24-16-6 (.587)
TOR – 18-22-4 (.455)