Game 590 – Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 2

Game 590
Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 2
Thursday, December 11, 1980
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

Larry Robinson’s shoulder slipped back into place and the Toronto Maple Leafs slipped into their usual pattern of too many penalties and truancy on defence as the Montréal Canadiens beat the Leafs 5-2 in a National Hockey League game at the Forum last night.

Robinson, playing his first game in a month after resting a separated shoulder, threw some solid hits and commanded the ice with accurate passes on every shift he played as the Habs showed signs of rousing out of their doldrums.

It was only the third win in the past eight games for the Canadiens, who continued their mastery over the Leafs on Forum ice. The Leafs have not won in their past 10 starts at Montréal, since March 1976.

Robinson’s presence, however, made a big difference to the organization of both Montréal’s offence and defence.

“The shoulder isn’t 100 per cent yet, but rather than wait I was prepared to play with it as it is,” said the 29-year-old veteran of the Montréal blueline.

“I had to hit somebody on my first shift. If it was going to go, it would have gone then, and it would have been better to find out early whether it would hold up or not.”

Montréal coach Claude Ruel held fast to his belief that it was a rash of injuries (and tonsillitis in the case of Guy Lafleur) that has kept the Canadiens from rising to the status of NHL leaders.

“Against Pittsburgh, we struggled and ran into good goaltending,” Ruel said. “Even tonight, you saw what happened. Cripes, (Leaf goalie Jiri) Crha stopped four breakaways. Just because it’s Montréal, it’s (the depleted lineup) supposed to be enough. It’s not. This league is getting better.”

It was the second loss in as many nights for the Leafs, who were embarrassed 8-5 by the Vancouver Canucks in Toronto on Wednesday.

For the Leafs, last night’s game was a collection of the same old mistakes and giveaways that have seen them drop from the top of the standing to 12th place with a record of 10-12-5.

Crha faced 36 Montréal shots and Toronto took only 29 at Richard Sévigny.

The Leafs hurt themselves badly by spending too much time in the penalty box. The Canadiens took a 2-1 lead after the first period on a pair of power-play goals.

“Maybe it’s just happening in my imagination,” said Toronto defenceman Dave Farrish, who was nursing a sore shoulder and sore elbow after the match. “It seems that the referee never catches it when we’re getting hit, but just at the moment when we’re hitting somebody back. He doesn’t see the initial altercation.

“When we played at even strength, we played as well as or better than Montréal.”

The Canadiens yielded the first goal, a 50-foot rising slapshot by John Anderson as Bruce Boudreau was pestering the Hab goalie.

Pierre Mondou made a deft move around Robert Picard in front of the Toronto net to backhand his second goal of the season past Crha at 15:19.

Less than a minute later, Darryl Sittler went to the penalty box for interference and was followed shortly by Wilf Paiement for slashing. Although Crha made two stops off Montréal defenceman Gaston Gingras, Lafleur, freshly returned from a tonsillectomy, was prepared to slam home the second rebound.

Anderson made a move around Montréal defender Brian Engblom to score a second unassisted goal at 11:44 of the second period to tie the score at 2-2.

The Leafs took command for a brief period as Sittler and Paiement applied pressure in the Montréal end and Crha made big saves on Mark Napier, Mondou and Steve Shutt.

However, Toronto was unable to rally behind the surprisingly good performance of the Czechoslovak netminder and allowed Keith Acton, Mario Tremblay and Réjean Houle to freewheel close to the net. Houle capped a nice three-way passing play while Toronto defenceman Dave Shand was behind the net to restore the Montréal lead to 3-2 going into the final period.

Napier and Bob Gainey added goals for the Habs in the third period. Robinson had an assist on Napier’s goal.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, December 12,1980

1st Period
TOR GOAL – 03:02 – Anderson
MTL PEN – 03:58 – Langway, high sticking
TOR PEN – 09:56 – Melrose, roughing
MTL PEN – 11:15 – Lafleur, hooking
TOR PEN – 15:02 – Boudreau, hooking
MTL PP GOAL – 15:19 – Mondou (Larouche, Langway)
TOR PEN – 16:03 – Sittler, interference
TOR PEN – 17:04 – Paiement, slashing
MTL PP2 GOAL – 17:20 – Lafleur (Gingras, Shutt)

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 01:55 – Salming, hooking
MTL PEN – 03:00 – Gingras, interference
TOR GOAL – 11:44 – Anderson
MTL GOAL – 17:16 – Houle (Tremblay, Acton)
TOR PEN – 18:28 – Saganiuk, interference

3rd Period
MTL GOAL – 08:38 – Napier (Robinson, Lambert)
MTL PEN – 09:53 – Langway, hooking
TOR PEN – 18:11 – Salming, interference
MTL PP GOAL – 19:01 – Gainey

MTL – Sévigny (W, 27-29)
TOR – Crha (L, 31-36)

MTL – 16+10+10 = 36
TOR – 11+12+7 = 29

MTLGoaltenders: Denis Herron, Richard Sévigny. Defence: Brian Engblom, Gaston Gingras, Rod Langway, Larry Robinson, Serge Savard (C). Forwards: Keith Acton, Bob Gainey, Réjean Houle, Doug Jarvis, Guy Lafleur, Yvon Lambert, Pierre Larouche, Pierre Mondou, Mark Napier, Chris Nilan, Steve Shutt, Mario Tremblay.
TORGoaltenders: Jiri Crha, Jim Rutherford. Defence: Dave Farrish, Barry Melrose, Robert Picard, Borje Salming, David Shand, Ian Turnbull. Forwards: John Anderson, Bruce Boudreau, Bill Derlago, Ron Ellis, Pat Hickey, Dan Maloney, Terry Martin, Wilf Paiement, Rocky Saganiuk, Darryl Sittler (C), Rick Vaive.

MTL – 15-12-2 (.552)
TOR – 10-12-5 (.463)