Game 606 – Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 2

Game 606
Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 2
Wednesday, January 1, 1986
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

The Maple Leafs were shorthanded, a patchwork assembly of incumbents and call-ups, because of a 10-man injury list.

The Montréal Canadiens were a trifle tired, the result of a whipping from Central Red Army of the U.S.S.R. on New Year’s Eve and a collision with a pack of noisy celebrants when they reached their Toronto hotel at 2:30 a.m. yesterday.

But neither team used any excuses to describe the Leafs’ 3-2 National Hockey League victory last night at Maple Leaf Gardens.

The Leafs, in fact, even found a few strong adjectives to describe their work in a victory that started the new year the right way. Granted, restoration of a five-point margin over the Detroit Red Wings for fourth place in the Norris Division doesn’t exactly indicate that the old year was any bonanza, but the Leafs were entitled to a little swagger on this occasion.

“I thought it was a very, very good win for us because the Canadiens played a good game and we beat them,” said Leaf winger Brad Smith. “They’re a very good offensive team and that’s why holding them to two goals is a good sign for this team.”

The Leafs were far from flawless in their own zone and needed some sound work from goalie Tim Bernhardt, making his first appearance since November 27 because of injuries and the intrusion of young Ken Wregget into the rotation, to snare the win. But they did show some discipline back of their blueline.

That’s the result of coach Dan Maloney’s heavy concentration on that area during the team’s workouts, a repetition of the defensive basics.

“We’ve stuck to three or four basic drills in our practices and it’s starting to pay off,” said forward Dan Daoust, a stickout for the Leafs at both ends of the ice.

“We’ve cut down on the amount of running around we do in our end and if we continue to work on those basics, eventually we’ll be strong in our end of the rink.”

Tom Fergus, Gary Leeman and Russ Courtnall had the Leaf goals, the latter two set up by Jeff Jackson, one of the recent injury emergency call-ups from the St. Catharines Saints of the American League.

Bobby Smith and Larry Robinson scored for the Canadiens, who made a big pitch to get back in the match from a two-goal deficit after Daoust failed to score on a penalty shot halfway through the third period.

Daoust was awarded the freebie when he was chopped down on a breakaway by the Canadiens’ Bob Gainey. Goalie Patrick Roy stopped Daoust’s 15-foot shot to the stick side.

“I changed my mind from what I first planned to do,” Daoust said. “Roy is a goalie who drops down on just about every shot so I decided to shoot low, instead of trying to deke him. The shot hit his pad and stick.”

Jackson is a big, grinding winger who figures prominently in Leafs’ long-range plans. He was sent to the Saints to gain experience and looks on his call-up as the chance to get his foot in the door for an NHL job. If he continues to play at the level of last night, his Sainthood could be over.

“I’m an emergency recall so when some guys come off the injury list, I’ll likely have to go back to St. Catharines,” he said. “But I look on this as a chance to show the Leafs that I have improved in the American League and am making progress as a player.”

Bernhardt had shared the goaltending chores with Don Edwards through the team’s lean time at the start of the season, then twisted his knee. Wregget was summoned and when Edwards was wounded, the youngster played so well that he started seven consecutive games.

But Bernhardt worked hard in practices to be ready when the call came. He was especially sharp early and late in the game.

“It was a good time for me to come back to work,” Bernhardt said. “Not many people expected us to beat a strong team like the Canadiens so the pressure isn’t as much as if we were playing a weaker team. I’m breaking in new pads so I wasn’t able to control rebounds quite the way I would have liked, but the guys in front of me did a good job of clearing them away.”

A big aim of the Leafs was to avoid penalties as the first step in not facing the Canadiens’ power play, the most potent in the NHL. They did give the visitors two opportunities, but stifled them.

Goalie Ken Wregget, defencemen Borje Salming and Brad Maxwell, forwards Marian Stastny, Rick Vaive, Jim Korn, Greg Terrion and Wendel Clark remained among the ailing and maimed.

The Canadiens have lost defenceman Rick Green for from six to eight weeks with a broken thumb, suffered in the loss to the Soviets Tuesday.

Story originally published in The Toronto Star, January 2, 1986

1st Period
TOR PEN – 00:51 – Nylund, holding
MTL PEN – 09:26 – Ludwig, interference
TOR GOAL – 14:28 – Fergus (Frycer, Benning)
MTL GOAL – 18:03 – Smith (Dahlin, Kurvers)
TOR GOAL – 18:31 – Leeman (Jackson)

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 05:06 – Smith, fighting major
MTL PEN – 05:06 – McPhee, fighting major
TOR GOAL – 11:45 – Courtnall (Jackson)
TOR PEN – 12:27 – Smith, hooking

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 04:36 – Carbonneau, slashing
TOR PEN – 04:36 – Fergus, slashing
MTL GOAL – 13:08 – Robinson (Naslund, Walter)
TOR PEN SHOT – Daoust stopped

TOR – Bernhardt (W, 26-28)
MTL – Roy (L, 24-27)

TOR – 10+11+6 = 27
MTL – 7+11+10 = 28

TORGoaltenders: Tim Bernhardt. Defence: Jim Benning, Todd Gill, Al Iafrate, Chris Kotsopoulos, Bob McGill, Gary Nylund, Blake Wesley. Forwards: Rich Costello, Russ Courtnall, Dan Daoust, Tom Fergus (A), Miroslav Frycer, Dan Hodgson, Peter Ihnacak, Jeff Jackson, Gary Leeman, Brad Smith, Steve Thomas.
MTLGoaltenders: Patrick Roy. Defence: Tom Kurvers, Mike Lalor, Craig Ludwig, Larry Robinson (A), Petr Svoboda. Forwards: Guy Carbonneau, Kjell Dahlin, Lucien DeBlois, Bob Gainey (C), Mike McPhee, Mats Naslund, Chris Nilan, Stéphane Richer, Steve Rooney, Brian Skrudland, Bobby Smith, Mario Tremblay (A), Ryan Walter.

TOR – 10-20-5 (.357)
MTL – 19-13-4 (.583)