Game 621 – Canadiens 7, Maple Leafs 3

Game 621
Canadiens 7, Maple Leafs 3
Wednesday, January 23, 1991
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

Tom Watt looked just about as mystified as a child watching a magic show.

His Maple Leafs, it seems, have disappeared on him. The head coach has a few guesses, but he admits to not knowing exactly why.

A 7-3 pounding at the hands of the Montréal Canadiens last night in the exalted Forum, just 42 days after the Leafs had easily handled the very same Habs in Toronto, was the latest demonstration of the astounding regression the Leafs have suffered after seemingly turning the corner on their bleak season last month.

That 4-1 win over the Habs December 12 came near the start of what would eventually be a 7-4-1 month that appeared to have stopped the hemorrhaging of a totally disastrous start to the season. Tight checking was the name of the game, as in keeping the shots down and playing a tenacious, conservative game.

Not any more.

“We’re giving up too many shots again, and we can’t win that way,” an exasperated Watt said. “If we really think we can do that, we’re crazy.

“But this is happening time and time again now. I think we’re slow learners.”

The Habs fired 38 shots at goalie Peter Ing last night, just 24 hours after Ing was subjected to 36 shots by the offensively weak Québec Nordiques. The Leafs have allowed more than 30 shots in eight of their past nine games, a total turnaround from the team that kept opponents under 30 shots in 10 straight games last month.

“We’re getting back to playing wide-open hockey, and that’s a mistake,” Watt said. “But unless there’s an attitude to play stronger defence, it doesn’t matter what I say.”

Leafs captain Rob Ramage said the small dose of winning in December may have actually been detrimental to the team.

“I’d hate to think we got a little taste of success and let it go to our heads,” he said. “That’s long gone now.”

Peter Zezel, Daniel Marois and Bob Rouse, with his first goal in a Toronto uniform, scored for the Leafs.

Shayne Corson and Stéphan Lebeau each scored a pair for Montréal, with Mike McPhee, Guy Carbonneau and Stéphane Richer adding singles. The win put the Habs one point behind the first- place Boston Bruins in the Adams Division.

The subplot to last night’s contest was the confrontation between Montréal enforcer Todd “The Animal” Ewen and Leafs winger Wendel Clark.

Ewen uttered some menacing words prior to the game, warning Clark he he wouldn’t stand for a repeat of the trashing the Habs took at the hands of the Leafs sparkplug last month. In that game, Clark helped knock Montréal goalie Patrick Roy out for nine games and mugged star Canadiens centre Denis Savard.

Last night, Ewen took some dumb penalties that gave the Leafs three power plays, but every time Clark hit the ice in the first two periods Ewen was there like a beat cop. He decked Clark once, fought him once, and had the Leafs forward’s attention most of the evening.

“At least Wendel Clark didn’t get any points, and he wasn’t running around hitting everyone,” said Ewen who, oddly enough, writes children’s stories on the side.

“We came out with the win, so I guess my contribution helped.”

Montréal head coach Pat Burns, who vehemently denied the existence of a get-Clark game plan, nonetheless agreed Clark was not a factor in the contest.

“Definitely, he did not play the same game he played in Toronto,” Burns said. “He was a one-man wrecking crew that night.”

Clark said he understood the Habs’ tactic of using Ewen as a neutralizer.

“He had his job to do, I guess,” Clark said. “But there’s no won- loss record between players.

“They won, we lost. That’s it.”

Story originally published in The Toronto Star, January 24, 1991

1st Period
MTL PEN – 01:49 – Ewen, unsportsmanlike conduct
TOR GOAL – 03:53 – Rouse (Leeman, Bradley)
MTL GOAL – 08:18 – Lebeau (Richer, Turgeon)
TOR PEN – 09:05 – Foligno, elbowing
TOR PEN – 13:16 – Ramage, roughing
MTL PEN – 13:16 – Ewen, roughing
TOR PEN – 14:11 – Foligno, interference
MTL GOAL – 17:08 – Corson (Carbonneau, Keane)
MTL PEN – 18:09 – Lefebvre, interference

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 01:32 – Richardson, delay of game
TOR PEN – 02:48 – team, too many men on the ice
MTL PP GOAL – 03:27 – Richer (Lefebvre, Turgeon)
MTL GOAL – 05:03 – McPhee (Courtnall, Daigneault)
TOR PEN – 06:53 – Clark, roughing
MTL PEN – 06:53 – Ewen, roughing / elbowing double minor
TOR PP GOAL – 10:28 – Zezel (Damphousse, Leeman)
TOR PEN – 14:10 – Petit, roughing
TOR GOAL – 17:30 – Marois (Damphousse, Zezel)

3rd Period
MTL GOAL – 04:32 – Corson (Keane, Desjardins)
MTL GOAL – 17:51 – Carbonneau (McPhee, Courtnall)
MTL GOAL – 19:30 – Lebeau (Turgeon, Richer)

MTL – Roy (W, 23-26)
TOR – Ing (L, 31-38)

MTL – 8+18+12 = 38
TOR – 8+13+5 = 26

MTLGoaltenders: Patrick Roy. Defence: J.J. Daigneault, Éric Desjardins, Donald Dufresne, Sylvain Lefebvre, Mathieu Schneider. Forwards: Guy Carbonneau (C), Andrew Cassels, Shayne Corson, Russ Courtnall, Todd Ewen, Brent Gilchrist, Mike Keane, Stéphan Lebeau, Mike McPhee (A), Mark Pederson, Stéphane Richer, Sylvain Turgeon, Ryan Walter.
TORGoaltenders: Peter Ing. Defence: Dave Ellett, Brad Marsh (A), Michel Petit, Rob Ramage (C), Luke Richardson, Bob Rouse. Forwards: Brian Bradley, Aaron Broten, Wendel Clark (A), Vincent Damphousse, Lucien DeBlois, Paul Fenton, Mike Foligno, Dave Hannan, Mike Krushelnyski, Gary Leeman, Daniel Marois, Peter Zezel.

MTL – 27-18-5 (.590)
TOR – 12-32-5 (.296)