Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 1
Saturday, November 1, 1997
Centre Molson, Montréal, Québec
When the Montréal Canadiens play the Toronto Maple Leafs, the winners smile a little broader and defeat cuts a little deeper.
Benoît Brunet was among the grinning after his first two goals of the season lifted the Canadiens to a 5-1 NHL victory over their long- time rivals before a sellout crowd of 21,273 at the Molson Centre Saturday night.
“It was a pressure game,” said Brunet, whose work included a short-handed goal at 2:06 of the third that capped the scoring in a one-sided match. “We knew it was on TV across Canada and there were a lot of Leafs fans in the building.
“We were really frustrated after our last game (a 5-2 loss to the New York Islanders) and we really needed a good game.”
First-period goals from Stéphane Quintal and Saku Koivu quieted the spirited chanting from the large Toronto contingent in the seats.
After Brunet’s first at 5:18 of the middle period, the Leafs came briefly to life when Sergei Berezin netted a power-play goal at 14:40, only to see Richer respond with the man advantage at 17:54.
Montréal, 7-4-2, used its speed to overwhelm the 3-7-2 Leafs, outshooting them 36-27.
“They got a couple of early goals by capitalizing on their chances,” said Toronto’s Wendel Clark. “You can’t make as many mistakes as we did against a team with that much offence.”
The Leafs created some chances when they used the body against Montréal, but lacked the guns to finish off the plays. The Canadiens were quick to counterattack, led by Vladimir Malakhov, who returned after missing a game with a bruised back.
Koivu, worried this week about a drop in his level of play, also rebounded with a strong effort.
“The last three games, I didn’t have that step – I wasn’t sharp.
“Tonight, our whole line (with Shayne Corson and Mark Recchi) felt good.
“I think the whole team felt better.”
The Leafs’ only visit of the season is always a big occasion – as will be Montréal’s sole trip to Toronto on February 28 – for fans frustrated by the NHL’s dawdling in putting the rivals in the same division, a move expected possibly as early as next season.
“It makes the game more exciting when the crowd’s into it like that,” added Clark.
“It’s fun to play a game like that.
“The media builds it up. The fans schedule their weekend around it. It makes it an event for everyone in Toronto and Montréal.”
He might have added that it’s even more fun when you win.
As Leafs’ head coach Mike Murphy put it: “We laid an egg on national TV…from me on down to the players.
“It’s a carnival situation when you play in this building and we didn’t perform tonight.”
Toronto defenceman Craig Wolanin left the game in the first period after twisting his right knee in a collision with Martin Rucinsky.
The Canadiens improved their overall record against their fellow original six NHL club to 306-244-84, including 193-84-40 in Montréal.
Notes: Tie Domi, out since October 22 with an abdominal muscle strain, Igor Korolev, out since October 25 with a shoulder injury, and Dmitri Yushkevich, who fractured two toes on October 14, returned to Toronto’s lineup.
Story originally published in The Hamilton Spectator, November 3, 1997
MTL GOAL – 06:03 – Quintal (Savage, Richer)
TOR PEN – 07:56 – Yushkevich
MTL GOAL – 10:07 – Koivu (Corson)
TOR PEN – 13:25 – Domi, roughing + fighting major
MTL PEN – 13:25 – Corson, cross checking + fighting major
TOR PEN – 14:00 – D. King, boarding
MTL PEN – 18:12 – Bordeleau, slashing
MTL GOAL – 05:18 – Brunet (Malakhov)
TOR PEN – 07:30 – Korolev, hooking
MTL PEN – 13:12 – Koivu, interference
TOR PP GOAL – 14:40 – Berezin (Korolev, Sundin)
TOR PEN – 16:57 – Clark, elbowing
MTL PP GOAL – 17:54 – Richer (Recchi, Corson)
MTL PEN – 01:05 – Koivu, interference
MTL SH GOAL – 02:06 – Brunet
MTL – Moog (W, 26-27)
TOR – Potvin (L, 31-36)
SHOTS ON GOAL
MTL – 6+13+17 = 36
TOR – 6+7+14 = 27
MTL – Goaltenders: Andy Moog, Jocelyn Thibault. Defence: Patrice Brisebois, Brett Clark, Vladimir Malakhov, Dave Manson, Peter Popovic, Stéphane Quintal (A). Forwards: Sébastien Bordeleau, Benoît Brunet, Valeri Bure, Marc Bureau, Shayne Corson, Vincent Damphousse (C), Saku Koivu, Mark Recchi (A), Stéphane Richer, Martin Rucinsky, Brian Savage, Scott Thornton.
TOR – Goaltenders: Glenn Healy, Félix Potvin. Defence: David Cooper, Jamie Macoun (A), Mathieu Schneider, Jason Smith, Craig Wolanin, Dmitri Yushkevich. Forwards: Sergei Berezin, Wendel Clark (A), Tie Domi, Darby Hendrickson, Mike Johnson, Derek King, Kris King, Igor Korolev, Alyn McCauley, Steve Sullivan, Mats Sundin (C), Todd Warriner.
MTL – 7-4-2 (.615)
TOR – 3-7-2 (.333)
⭐ Benoît Brunet (MTL)
⭐⭐ Vladimir Malakhov (MTL)
⭐⭐⭐ Stéphane Richer (MTL)