Game 617 – Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 3 (OT)

Game 617
Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 3 (OT)
Saturday, November 18, 1989
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

This was a Saturday Night Special.

Not a classic, by any means, but nonetheless special.

And it was also a crushing loss for the Leafs who, with only 11 forwards, suffered a 4-3 overtime setback at the hands of the not-so-mighty Canadiens before a raucous Forum gathering of 17,750.

With only 95 ticks on the overtime clock separating the Leafs from what would have been their sweetest point of the season, Mats Naslund suddenly, shockingly, stuffed the most bitter of pills down their throats.

Taking a pass from Mike Keane at centre ice, Naslund skated across the blue line and, just as he was about to shoot, the puck rolled up on its side.

“I could see it from the bench and I thought, ‘Oh no, please don’t shoot,’ ” said Leaf winger Dave Reid.

Reid, and his 19 teammates, had their worst fears confirmed when Naslund’s floater sailed and then quickly dipped before deflecting off goaltender Allan Bester’s blocker and falling softly into the mesh.

“I was going up with my arm and it suddenly went down,” said a disheartened Bester in a hushed Toronto dressing room. “I saw it clean. I’ve got to stop those.

“It was too important a game to let a shot like that in.”

It was a sudden end but certainly not a fitting one. This was as fiercely contested a battle as you’d want to see, but unfortunately the first of just three meetings between these storied rivals.

And make no mistake, the rivalry is as alive and as intense as ever.

Montréal rearguard Petr Svoboda was forced from the game with a mild concussion after taking a vicious hit from Mark Osborne, just moments before Osborne tied the game 3-3 at 16:26 of the second period. Guy Carbonneau was crushed into the boards by Al Iafrate midway through the third period and did not return.

The Leafs were also thumped heavily on several occasions, but took the licking and kept on kicking back.

“This was hockey,” Leafs defenceman Brad Marsh said. “That was one hell of a game that we should have at least tied if not won.”

Goals by Iafrate and Montréal native Vince Damphousse in the late stages of the first period had staked the Leafs to a 2-0 lead, but Stéphane Richer replied with 43 seconds remaining in the period and then struck again early in the second session to tie the contest.

Centre Bobby Smith, who hadn’t scored in his past four games, put the Habs ahead 3-2 midway through the second but Osborne scored his second goal in his past three games to knot the game once again.

Leafs coach Doug Carpenter had hoped to have centre Dave Hannan and right winger Daniel Marois back from their respective injuries, but both were late scratches.

And because they’d sent right winger Sean McKenna to Sherbrooke on Friday to join Newmarket for its game today, the Leafs were short a forward and had to move defenceman Todd Gill up to left wing.

“We did the best we could with what we had, but we certainly never would have sent McKenna back had we known that both Hannan and Marois weren’t going to be able to play,” Carpenter said. “They seemed fine after practice (Friday) and we thought they’d be okay.

“I thought we should have come out of it with at least a half a loaf,” the coach added. “We played our hearts out; our guts out. That was good, old-fashioned hockey.

“We came up empty on a night when we didn’t deserve to. But what bothers you the most is losing on a shot from 45 feet out.”

“Short side, far side, whatever, it went in,” Bester said. “That’s the bottom line.”

Besides Svoboda’s injury, the Canadiens also were left with some other walking wounded.

Defenceman J.J. Daigneault suffered what team doctors fear might be a serious eye injury, Ryan Walter has a suspected broken toe and Carbonneau may have nerve damage in his shoulder and a broken nose from Iafrate’s hit.

“I think I’ll go to mass early (today),” cracked Canadiens coach Pat Burns, who had nothing but praise for the Leafs and their effort.

He also said he had no qualms with Osborne’s hit on Svoboda along the end boards.

“Going after the other team’s defencemen is part of the game,” Burns said. “We were going after Marsh all night.

“I didn’t think the hit (on Svoboda) was a cheap shot at all.”

The Leafs have an off day today before beginning preparations to meet the North Stars in Bloomington on Wednesday night, the third of four road games.

NOTES: The Leafs announced after the game that goalie Peter Ing was being returned to Newmarket today because the Saints’ number one netminder, Tim Bernhardt, suffered a groin injury Friday night…Ex-Canadien John Kordic extended his point streak to five games with an assist on Vince Damphousse’s goal…Luke Richardson and Ing were the designated sitters for the Leafs last night.

Story originally published in The Toronto Star, November 19, 1989

1st Period
TOR PEN – 01:30 – Ramage, holding
TOR GOAL – 14:40 – Iafrate (Damphousse, Kordic)
TOR PEN – 15:05 – Pearson, fighting major
MTL PEN – 15:05 – Keane, fighting major
MTL PEN – 16:39 – Lumme, high sticking
TOR PP GOAL – 18:06 – Damphousse (Ramage, Fergus)
MTL GOAL – 19:17 – Richer (Smith, Corson)

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 05:27 – Richer (Corson, Lebeau)
MTL GOAL – 12:53 – Smith (Chelios, Keane)
TOR PEN – 14:39 – team, too many men on the ice
MTL PEN – 18:34 – Walter, holding
TOR SH GOAL – 16:26 – Osborne
TOR PEN – 19:04 – Ramage, holding

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 03:44 – Chelios, elbowing

MTL GOAL – 03:25 – Naslund (Keane, Ludwig)

MTL – Roy (W, 14-17)
TOR – Bester (L, 25-29)

MTLGoaltenders: Patrick Roy. Defence: Chris Chelios (C), J.J. Daigneault, Sylvain Lefebvre, Craig Ludwig, Jyrki Lumme, Petr Svoboda. Forwards: Guy Carbonneau (C), Shayne Corson, Russ Courtnall, Ed Cristofoli, Mike Keane, Stéphan Lebeau, Jocelyn Lemieux, Mats Naslund (A), Stéphane Richer, Brian Skrudland (A), Bobby Smith, Ryan Walter.
TORGoaltenders: Allan Bester. Defence: Brian Curran, Todd Gill, Al Iafrate, Tom Kurvers, Brad Marsh (A), Rob Ramage (C), Darryl Shannon. Forwards: Vincent Damphousse, Dan Daoust, Tom Fergus, Lou Franceschetti, John Kordic, Gary Leeman, John McIntyre, Ed Olczyk, Mark Osborne, Scott Pearson, Dave Reid.

MTL – 13-9-2 (.583)
TOR – 10-12-0 (.455)