Game 616 – Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 3

Game 616
Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 3
Saturday, January 21, 1989
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

“They didn’t beat us, we beat ourselves.” “The referee beat us.”

Players often utter such cliches after their team loses.

However, these comments had some validity as far as the Toronto Maple Leafs were concerned following their 4-3 loss to the Montréal Canadiens before a capacity crowd of 17,897 at the Forum.

For the second straight Saturday night, the longtime rivals played a smashing game.

And the Leafs, to their credit, refused to wither under a second-period barrage by the National Hockey League’s overall leaders.

However, a Leaf miscue and a controversial call by referee Kerry Fraser left them one goal short of heading home with at least a tie.

The Leafs, however, remained in fourth place in the Norris Division, two points back of the Minnesota North Stars and three ahead of the last-place Chicago Blackhawks as those teams also went down to defeat.

A giveaway by Todd Gill and Vincent Damphousse’s “goal” scored into his own net was the difference as the Leafs went into the third period trailing 3-1.

However, Gill, who had scored his first goal since being moved from defence to left wing eight games ago, more than made up for his first-period faux pas when he notched his second goal early in the third period.

Just over two minutes later it appeared that the Leafs had tied the game at three when Tom Fergus drilled a shot between Canadiens goalie Brian Hayward’s pads.

However, referee Kerry Fraser disallowed the goal, ruling that Leaf right winger Craig Laughlin had interfered with Hayward.

Laughlin, who was given a misconduct for slamming his stick against the boards and berating Fraser, insisted he had not intruded on Hayward’s crease.

“I was pushed in at the start, but I skated to the other side of the crease,” he explained. “I then skated back in front, but I didn’t interfere with the goalie. I just screened him.

“When Fergie shot the puck I jumped out of the way and it went through the five hole (between the pads). So I can’t see how I interfered with him.”

Laughlin claimed that if he was in the crease it was by no more than an inch or so and Fraser shouldn’t have made so fine a call at that juncture of the game.

Leaf coach George Armstrong, however, was his usual low-key self.

“Rules are rules and a penalty should be called when you’re in the wrong, regardless if the game is tight or not,” he said. “I wasn’t zeroing in on the net at the time so I can’t say.

“Was he pushed in or did he back into the crease? If he was pushed in that’s a different story.”

Armstrong said he found it “encouraging to play a good team like that and keep it close. There’s not much we can do except play the best we can,” he said.

But it won’t get any easier for “The Chief” as he attempts to turn around the Leafs’ sagging fortunes. Their next game is Wednesday at the Gardens against the always-tough Boston Bruins, even though the injury-riddled Beantowners have dropped below the .500 mark for the first time in several seasons.

“I hope we’re starting to believe in ourselves,” said Armstrong, “and that we’re not as bad a team as the standings show. We’re not Stanley Cup material yet, but we’re as good as many other teams.”

Gill, who was named the game’s second star, turned a tough start into a positive night with his two goals.

“Dumping the puck in wasn’t working,” he explained. “So I was trying to pull the puck around (Guy) Carbonneau. But he stopped and the puck hit his leg.”

Gill said he was somewhat surprised to get the two goals because he felt he wasn’t playing well.

“It’s nice to get those two goals, but I wasn’t even worried that I hadn’t scored (as a forward),” he said. “I knew that if I played my position the goals would come sooner or later.”

The Canadiens took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission and then went ahead by two when Damphousse inadvertently knocked the puck into his net early in the second period.

Goalie Allan Bester had made a fine kick save on Mats Naslund and the puck was bouncing crazily in front of the net when Damphousse skated in.

He tried to handle the puck rather than just banging it out of harm’s way and to his horror it trickled off his stick and into the open net.

The Canadiens swarmed all over the Leafs in the period, outshooting Toronto 15-4. On the game it was 35-23 in the Habs’ favour.

Gill cut the margin to one with his first goal, but the lead was short lived as Stéphane Richer scored 16 seconds later.

The Leafs, however, came out strongly in the third period with Gill’s second goal reducing the margin to 3-2.

Carbonneau’s second goal, which Bester admits he misplayed, restored the Habs’ two-goal lead.

However Mark Osborne’s power-play marker brought the Leafs back to within a goal.

The Leafs pulled Bester with 1:07 remaining and almost got the equalizer in the closing seconds of the game.

Story originally published in The Toronto Star, January 22, 1989

1st Period
TOR PEN – 05:05 – Kotsopoulos, hooking
MTL PEN – 06:53 – Marsh, holding
MTL PEN – 17:04 – Gilchrist, hooking
MTL SH GOAL – 18:10 – Carbonneau

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 03:07 – Laughlin, tripping
TOR PEN – 09:07 – Lanz, holding
MTL GOAL – 13:11 – Naslund
TOR GOAL – 13:54 – Gill (Marsh, Laughlin)
MTL GOAL – 14:10 – Richer (Svoboda, Gilchrist)
TOR PEN – 14:34 – Olczyk, tripping
MTL PEN – 19:24 – Skrudland, hooking

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 06:15 – Osborne, unsportsmanlike conduct
TOR PEN – 06:15 – Leeman, roughing
MTL PEN – 06:15 – Lemieux, unsportsmanlike conduct + fighting major + game misconduct
TOR GOAL – 07:37 – Gill (Fergus, Bester)
TOR PEN – 09:47 – Laughlin, interference + misconduct
MTL GOAL – 10:36 – Carbonneau (Ludwig, Chelios)
TOR PEN – 12:44 – Marois, fighting major
MTL PEN – 12:44 – Keane, instigator + fighting major
TOR PP GOAL – 13:43 – Osborne (Leeman, Lanz)

MTL – Hayward (W, 20-23)
TOR – Bester (L, 31-35)

MTL – 12+15+8 = 35
TOR – 7+4+12 = 23

MTLGoaltenders: Brian Hayward. Defence: Chris Chelios, Rick Green, Craig Ludwig, Jyrki Lumme, Larry Robinson (A), Petr Svoboda. Forwards: Guy Carbonneau, Shayne Corson, Russ Courtnall, Brent Gilchrist, Mike Keane, Claude Lemieux, Mike McPhee, Mats Naslund (A), Stéphane Richer, Brian Skrudland, Bobby Smith, Ryan Walter.
TORGoaltenders: Allan Bester. Defence: Brian Curran, Todd Gill, Chris Kotsopoulos, Rick Lanz, Brad Marsh, Luke Richardson. Forwards: Tim Armstrong, Vincent Damphousse, Dan Daoust, Tom Fergus, John Kordic, Craig Laughlin, Gary Leeman, Daniel Marois, Ed Olczyk, Mark Osborne, Dave Reid, Al Secord.

MTL – 33-12-6 (.706)
TOR – 16-28-4 (.375)