Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 3
Saturday, November 23, 1996
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario
At this point in hockey history, the battle in the great rivalry was not for first place or anything truly important, other than a couple of fair teams trying to be good.
But when the Maple Leafs and the Montréal Canadiens met at Maple Leaf Gardens last evening, the game was like old times in many ways.
A lively full house was there – hard to believe a few seats were not filled – and the crowd saw a very good hockey game but, as has happened so many times in the history, the outcome, a 4-3 victory for the Canadiens, was the result of a few small factors.
Each team had five power-play chances but the Canadiens outscored the Leafs, 2-0, with a manpower advantage. The Leafs botched up their defensive zone coverage and the Canadiens produced the winning goal.
However, the outcome did not influence the feeling that many of those on hand took home with them. The payees departed with the hope that the Leafs and Canadiens will wind up in the same division – or even conference – and the exchange of one trip by the heat-generating teams to each other’s buildings will become three each way with the idea of a playoff series other than the Stanley Cup final not that far-fetched.
“It was a good hockey game from two teams that are not that much different, decided by a big play by the Canadiens,” said Leafs coach Mike Murphy.
“We’re disappointed but we’re not discouraged, at least not the way we have been after some losses this season. Our guys felt that it was special and were very up for the game and into it.”
The Leafs scored the first goal, then had to come back twice to tie the score, sending it into the third period at 3-3. At 12:37, solid two-way vets Shayne Corson and Marc Bureau combined for a Bureau score to win it.
“Our coverage was poor on that goal but we’re not attaching blame for it,” Murphy said.
Leaf winger Tie Domi was a second or so late getting to Bureau, who took a Corson pass and shot. Leafs goalie Félix Potvin stopped it, but Bureau reached with one hand on his stick and tapped a backhand between Potvin’s pads.
“I was skating and trying as hard as I could to get to him or at least to the rebound,” Domi said. “But I was just a blink late.”
Corson, Bureau and Stéphane Richer led the Canadiens with a goal and an assist each. Vladimir Malakhov, a very good point man on the power play, had the other score.
Doug Gilmour, Mathieu Schneider and Sergei Berezin had the Leaf goals while winger Mike Craig created two of the goals on hustle and was perhaps the best Leaf.
After a hectic, media-frantic month, the Canadiens appear to have settled considerably with the return of goalie Jocelyn Thibault from a three-week absence due to a broken finger.
Thibault, while not crisp, played well technically, his angle-playing strong. He faced 36 shots, half of them in the third period.
The win was the third of the season for the Canadiens on the road, but their second in a row.
“We’ve settled down a great deal defensively and are a much different team right now than when we were struggling so much,” said captain Vincent Damphousse. “We can be a very tough club to beat and I think that will start to show now.”
The Leafs’ major problem these days is their power play, a unit that moves the puck around well and maintains pressure, except between the pipes and across the little red line.
“The two power-play goals the Canadiens scored really were the difference in the game,” Murphy said. “We work hard at out power play, but the ingredients just haven’t fell into place.”
Story originally published in The Toronto Star, November 24, 1996
TOR GOAL – 00:43 – Schneider (Craig, Gilmour)
TOR PEN – 03:05 – Baker, hooking
MTL PP GOAL – 04:15 – Malakhov (Recchi, Richer)
MTL PEN – 06:06 – Damphousse, slashing
MTL PEN – 08:37 – Murray, holding
TOR PEN – 11:52 – Sundin, hooking
MTL GOAL – 16:35 – Richer (Bureau, Corson)
MTL PEN – 18:49 – Bureau, hooking
TOR GOAL – 02:48 – Berezin (Sundin, Modin)
TOR PEN – 06:52 – Schneider, cross checking
MTL PP GOAL – 07:11 – Corson (Savage, Koivu)
TOR GOAL – 08:47 – Gilmour (Craig, Clark)
TOR PEN – 10:25 – Yushkevich, tripping
MTL PEN – 13:04 – Tucker, hooking
TOR PEN – 16:22 – Macoun, roughing
MTL PEN – 16:22 – Koivu, slashing
TOR PEN – 16:22 – Gilmour, unsportsmanlike conduct
MTL GOAL – 12:37 – Bureau (Corson, Brisebois)
MTL PEN – 14:01 – Koivu, holding
MTL – Thibault (W, 33-36)
TOR – Potvin (L, 27-31)
SHOTS ON GOAL
MTL – 11+13+7 = 31
TOR – 6+12+18 = 36
MTL – Goaltenders: Jocelyn Thibault. Defence: Patrice Brisebois, Jassen Cullimore, Vladimir Malakhov, Peter Popovic, Stéphane Quintal (A), David Wilkie. Forwards: Valeri Bure, Marc Bureau, Shayne Corson, Vincent Damphousse (C), Saku Koivu, Chris Murray, Mark Recchi (A), Stéphane Richer, Martin Rucinsky, Brian Savage, Scott Thornton, Darcy Tucker.
TOR – Goaltenders: Félix Potvin. Defence: Dave Ellett, Jamie Macoun, Matthew Martin, Larry Murphy, Mathieu Schneider, Dmitri Yushkevich. Forwards: Jamie Baker, Sergei Berezin, Wendel Clark (A), Mike Craig, John Craighead, Tie Domi, Kelly Fairchild, Doug Gilmour (C), Darby Hendrickson, Fredrik Modin, Kirk Muller, Mats Sundin (A).
⭐ Jocelyn Thibault (MTL)
⭐⭐ Doug Gilmour (TOR)
⭐⭐⭐ Shayne Corson (MTL)