Game 611 – Canadiens 10, Maple Leafs 3

Game 611
Canadiens 10, Maple Leafs 3
Wednesday, October 21, 1987
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Defence is the Montréal Canadiens’ trademark now. Check, check, check. Grind, grind, grind.

In their first six games of the the National Hockey League season, the former kings of firebrand hockey managed just 21 goals while allowing 17.

But last night at Maple Leaf Gardens, the Canadiens shucked their staid Bob Gainey image and started flying like a group of goal-hungry Guy Lafleurs.

They pumped in eight goals in a space of 22 minutes en route to a 10-3 trouncing of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

For the Leafs, maybe a blowout was due. They had played competently for their first five games and, with some good fortune, could have escaped without a loss through those five.

No such luck last night.

The Leafs had inconsistent goaltending and indifferent defence, particularly in the second period when the Habs were at their hottest.

It was a tough night for Chris Kotsopoulos, who was on the ice for six Hab goals.

“I think I set a personal high. That was the worst game I’ve ever been involved with,” an upset Kotsopoulos said. “I got caught in situations where it looked like I was the goat. But for me to get beat on a breakaway, it means five guys got beat on a breakaway.”

The veteran defenceman didn’t get a lot of help. He was merely the last man back on a number of Canadien goals.

“It was just a total team breakdown,” he said.

For Leaf coach John Brophy, it wasn’t a game to sit back and analyze – it was a game to forget about.

“We’ll file that game right down the garbage can,” Brophy said. “No team is that bad.”

Rookie defenceman Luke Richardson was prepared to follow Brophy’s suggestion.

“They were going in every which way. Nothing seemed to go right. It’s going to be on our mind, we can’t erase it,” Richardson said. “We can’t let it bother us for Saturday’s game.”

The Habs spread their goals around against Leaf netminders Ken Wregget and Allan Bester. Mike McPhee and Bobby Smith each scored twice while Claude Lemieux, Stéphane Richer, Gainey, Larry Trader, Shayne Corson and Mats Naslund, who also had three assists, each scored once.

Russ Courtnall, Vincent Damphousse and Al Iafrate had the Toronto goals.

Despite the scoring outburst, the Canadiens still consider themselves, first and foremost, a defensive team.

“We are playing good defence, that’s the main thing,” Naslund said.

Added teammate Ryan Walter: “We are a defensive team, we know that, and yet we are working on our offence. We’d like to think of ourselves as a balanced team. I think this was the best game we’ve had.”

Montréal coach Jean Perron said the Leafs merely had an off night.

“It happens to us, but not with the same score, because we have a defensive-minded club.”

The Leafs’ night didn’t begin to sour until the second period.

“We played an excellent first period,” Brophy said.

Montréal led 1-0 after the first but 8-1 after the second. The Leafs cut the margin to 8-3 early in the third, but Smith and Corson scored 28 seconds apart midway through the period to lift the Habs into double figures.

The Leafs held the early edge in play as Miroslav Frycer, Iafrate and Damphousse all had scoring chances early. Ed Olczyk had a couple of opportunities midway through the period, one of which resulted from his strong forechecking while killing a penalty.

The Canadiens’ first-period chances came later and they eventually scored on the second of two breakaways. McPhee went in alone after taking a pass from Trader, but flipped a wrist shot wide of the net.

That was just about the last time the Canadiens would miss.

With less than three minutes to play in the period, Lemieux received a clearing pass just outside the Montréal blueline, outskated Kotsopoulos, who made a futile dive, and drilled a wrist shot past Wregget.

For the Maple Leafs, that goal marked the onset of a long headache.

After the first intermission, the Habs came out flying. They struck for three goals in a space of 2:09 early in the period to take a 4-0 lead. After the fourth goal, Wregget packed up his pads and Bester took over, making his first appearance of the season.

The Leafs’ luck didn’t change and what seemed like an endless Montréal power play resumed.

Gainey connected at 7:05 with the Canadiens’ second shot at Bester. Courtnall interrupted the rout with a Leaf goal at 9:33, set up by Olczyk’s good work behind the net. That ended Patrick Roy’s bid for a shutout. Forty seconds later McPhee again outskated Kotsopoulos and put a pretty deke on Bester and it was 6-1.

After an eight-minute lull, Naslund and Trader scored 27 seconds apart. Trader’s goal was a cheap one, a wrist shot from a bad angle.

NOTES: Injured left winger Al Secord (separated rib cartilage) skated toward the end of the Leaf practice yesterday morning. He could possibly return Saturday…Forwards Greg Terrion and Mike Allison didn’t dress for the Leafs…The game was cleanly played, with only five minor penalties, three to Toronto. Montréal had the edge in shots, 32-26.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, October 22, 1987

1st Period
TOR PEN – 05:51 – Lanz, tripping
MTL PEN – 06:00 – Richer, tripping
TOR PEN – 07:41 – Frycer, hooking
MTL GOAL – 17:14 – Lemieux (Walter, Svoboda)
MTL PEN – 18:37 – Ludwig, roughing

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 02:39 – Richer (Naslund, Trader)
MTL GOAL – 03:15 – McPhee (Dahlin, Skrudland)
MTL GOAL – 04:48 – Smith (Lemieux, Walter)
MTL GOAL – 07:05 – Gainey (Nilan)
TOR GOAL – 09:33 – Courtnall (Olczyk)
MTL GOAL – 10:13 – McPhee
MTL GOAL – 18:18 – Naslund (Smith, Ludwig)
MTL GOAL – 18:45 – Trader (Richer, Naslund)

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 00:42 – Damphousse, interference
TOR GOAL – 05:04 – Damphousse (Frycer, Fergus)
TOR GOAL – 06:40 – Iafrate
MTL GOAL – 09:12 – Smith (Walter, Lemieux)
MTL GOAL – 09:40 – Corson (Naslund, Chelios)
TOR PEN – 13:45 – Daoust, hooking

MTL – Roy (W, 23-26)
TOR – Wregget (L, 10-14), Bester (12-18)

MTL – 9+14+9 = 32
TOR – 6+11+9 = 26

MTLGoaltenders: Patrick Roy. Defence: Chris Chelios, Craig Ludwig, Scott Sandelin, Petr Svoboda, Larry Trader. Forwards: Guy Carbonneau, Shayne Corson, Kjell Dahlin, Bob Gainey (C), John Kordic, Claude Lemieux, Mike McPhee, Mats Naslund (A), Chris Nilan, Stéphane Richer, Brian Skrudland, Bobby Smith, Ryan Walter.
TORGoaltenders: Allan Bester, Ken Wregget. Defence: Todd Gill, Al Iafrate, Chris Kotsopoulos, Rick Lanz, Luke Richardson, Borje Salming (A). Forwards: Wendel Clark (A), Russ Courtnall, Vincent Damphousse, Dan Daoust, Tom Fergus, Miroslav Frycer, Peter Ihnacak, Gary Leeman, Ed Olczyk, Mark Osborne, Dave Semenko, Leigh Verstraete.

MTL – 4-2-1 (.643)
TOR – 3-3-0 (.500)