Game 602 – Maple Leafs 6, Canadiens 4

Game 602
Maple Leafs 6, Canadiens 4
Monday, November 19, 1984
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

It was one for the workmen.

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ 6-4 win over the Montréal Canadiens was no masterpiece, but from the reaction of the players who ended a 10-game winless streak, one might have expected to see the Stanley Cup wheeled onto the Forum ice.

“We had to control the boards and the corners to win and that’s what we did,” said Leaf captain Rick Vaive. “Finally, a win. It feels damn good. I think we forgot what it felt like.”

It has been a rare experience for the Leafs this National Hockey League season and wins in the Forum have been rarer still. The last time Toronto won in Montréal was in March of 1976.

The Leaf win, only their second in 16 games, also ended Montréal’s undefeated streak at home this season. The Habs had eight wins and a tie. The crowd of 17,104, which stood to cheer Larry Robinson’s 500th assist early in the night, was pelting the ice with garbage by the end.

Toronto blew a two-goal advantage twice, but finally won it on Russ Courtnall’s third-period goal, which was a testimony to the long hours spent in grinding practices.

Miroslav Frycer held the puck in the Montréal zone, Walter Poddubny beat Canadiens’ defender Craig Ludwig to the puck behind the goal and set up Courtnall, who is filling in for the hobbled Peter Ihnacak.

“It means so much to come in here and win against a great team,” said coach Dan Maloney between drags on a celebration cigar. “Not to take anything away from Montréal, but this team has played well enough to win in recent games.”

“This is a major confidence builder,” Courtnall said. “Maybe it will put us on a roll.”

The Leafs got a sterling performance from rookie defenceman Al Iafrate, who outshone his U.S. compatriots on the Habs. Leaf goalie Allan Bester, getting a rare start, stopped 33 shots and made a key third-period stop on Mario Tremblay with a dive to halt the puck with his mask.

It was a rough night for Montréal goalie Steve Penney, who allowed Toronto to score on three of the first four shots on the goal.

The Leafs broke into a 2-0 advantage on goals by Frycer and Iafrate. The Habs got one back on Chris Nilan’s shot that squeezed between Bester’s pads 40 seconds into the middle period, but Dan Daoust’s long screen shot restored the margin.

The Leafs threatened to give it all away with penalties. Bobby Smith cut the score to 3-2 when the Leafs were caught with too many men on the ice and then the Leafs began having trouble clearing the puck. Pierre Mondou spun off a check for a backhand swat at a rebound and tied the match 3-3 at 11:52 of the second.

Jim Korn barreled down the left side and charged the net to score Toronto’s fourth goal, but Daoust got tabbed for tripping and Ryan Walter fired a power-play goal to knot the score again.

Courtnall’s winner came at 13:12 of the third and Bill Derlago scored into an empty net in the final minute.

“We just got into playing their game,” said Montréal’s Chris Chelios. “We didn’t do anything with our bounces and they did.”

In the first period of Saturday’s game against the New Jersey Devils, the Habs had also played down to the level of the opposition but managed to pull themselves out of it for a 5-0 win.

“We were patient in that game and everything pulled together,” said Walter. “That didn’t happen here. We shouldn’t be doing that. We’re professionals and we should be maintaining our own level of excellence.”

The Leafs had been providing a boost for everyone’s spirits but their own this season. In their five-game home stand, they produced only two ties, while Maloney had been hoping for as many as seven points.

“But we had to be patient,” said Borje Salming, who was the only man on the ice to be a member of the last Leaf team to win at the Forum. “We have been in so many games, so close and losing by one goal because of a mistake. Maybe this can turn it around.”

Maloney was highly impressed with Iafrate. “It may be premature, but I think we have something very special here,” he said. “This team hasn’t had anyone in a long time who can skate like him.”

Iafrate said he was finally getting his confidence, “and learning when I can go with the puck. We’ve been tight in the third periods of so many games, wondering what would happen. But tonight, the wingers were winning the battles along the boards and helping the defence. When our wingers are working, we can play with any team.”

Notes: The Leafs sat out Bill Root and Greg Terrion last night…Chicago assistant coach Roger Neilson took in last night’s game and was greatly impressed with Iafrate’s skating skill.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, November 20, 1984

1st Period
TOR GOAL – 08:29 – Frycer (Poddubny)
TOR GOAL – 14:27 – Iafrate

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 00:40 – Nilan (Carbonneau)
MTL PEN – 01:26 – Smith, holding
TOR PEN – 01:54 – Poddubny, holding
TOR GOAL – 02:48 – Daoust (Gavin)
TOR PEN – 07:14 – Nylund, holding
MTL PEN – 07:14 – Lafleur, high sticking
TOR PEN – 08:12 – team, too many men on the ice
MTL PP GOAL – 08:29 – Smith (Chelios, Robinson)
MTL GOAL – 11:52 – Mondou (Chelios, Naslund)
MTL PEN – 13:47 – Ludwig, high sticking

3rd Period
TOR GOAL – 02:18 – Korn (Daoust, Benning)
TOR PEN – 05:55 – Daoust, tripping
MTL PP GOAL – 06:15 – Walter (Robinson, Smith)
MTL PEN – 06:37 – Lafleur, hooking
TOR GOAL – 13:12 – Courtnall (Poddubny, Frycer)
MTL PEN – 18:51 – Gainey, unsportsmanlike conduct
TOR PP EN GOAL – 18:51 – Derlago (Salming)

TOR – Bester (W, 29-33)
MTL – Penney (L, 14-19)

TOR – 3+9+8 = 20
MTL – 7+18+8 = 33

TORGoaltenders: Allan Bester. Defence: Jim Benning, Al Iafrate, Jim Korn, Bob McGill, Craig Muni, Gary Nylund, Borje Salming. Forwards: John Anderson, Jeff Brubaker, Russ Courtnall, Dan Daoust, Bill Derlago, Miroslav Frycer, Stew Gavin, Jeff Jackson, Gary Leeman, Walt Poddubny, Rick Vaive (C).
MTLGoaltenders: Steve Penney, Doug Soetaert. Defence: Chris Chelios, Rick Green, Tom Kurvers, Craig Ludwig, Larry Robinson, Petr Svoboda. Forwards: Guy Carbonneau, Ron Flockhart, Bob Gainey (C), Mark Hunter, Guy Lafleur, Mike McPhee, Pierre Mondou, Mats Naslund, Chris Nilan, Bobby Smith, Mario Tremblay, Ryan Walter.

TOR – 4-11-3 (.306)
MTL – 11-4-2 (.706)