Toronto Maple Leafs downed the New York Rangers 4-2 last night at Maple Leaf Gardens in one of five National Hockey League games that we’ll report on today.
Leafs Double Rangers
Toronto Maple Leafs scored all their goals in the second period en route to a 4-2 win over the New York Rangers in Toronto. The Toronto victory snapped an eight-game unbeaten streak for the Broadway Blueshirts. It was the Leafs third win in a row.
Tim Horton was the star for the Leafs in this one. Many called it his finest game ever in the National Hockey League. Given that it was his 994th contest in the big league, that’s quite a claim to make – but he was that good.
The 37-year-old defenceman with the familiar crew-cut was dominant all over the ice. He blocked shots, led rushes and scored a goal that earned a standing ovation from the assembled throng of 16,076 at Maple Leaf Gardens. By the way, that’s the third largest crowd in Gardens history.
Horton was almost sheepish when asked if it was his best ever game:
“It’s difficult to judge whether it was my best or not. I can’t really say. My first couple of shifts I felt stiff. But you go out and try to play your best. The end result is often different.”
Even Rangers coach Emile Francis praised Horton’s game:
“Between holding 42 guys in front of the net and stickhandling past our guys his arms should be tired. But he played a helluva game, I mean it.”
New York Times hockey writer Gerald Eskenazi said the Leafs formula for success – tough, young forwards complimented by tough, old defencemen – was the reason for the Toronto win.
After a scoreless first period, the Leafs pumped four past Ranger goalie Ed Giacomin to take a 4-0 lead in the second. In addition to Horton’s score, Murray Oliver, Marcel Pronovost and Mike Walton also found the range.
Bob Nevin got the Rangers on the board with 40 seconds left in the period, but by this time, the issue was no longer in doubt.
Rod Seiling added another Ranger goal with just less than three minutes left in the game to make the final 4-2.
Shots on goal totaled 36 for each team, but it seemed that Giacomin was much busier than his Toronto counterpart Bruce Gamble.
Rochefort Haunts Habs
Former Montreal Canadiens winger Leon Rochefort came back to haunt his former mates last night at the Montreal Forum. Rochefort, now a member of the expansion Philadelphia Flyers, scored three times to lead his new team to a shocking 4-1 win over the Canadiens.
The 28-year-old Rochefort was picked up by the Flyers from Canadiens in last summer’s NHL Expansion Draft. Last season he split the year between the Quebec Aces and Montreal, scoring nine goals and seven assists in 27 games for the Habs.
Last night, Rochefort opened the scoring at 4:23 of the first. Flyers grabbed a 2-0 lead before the opening period finished on a goal by Garry Peters. Meanwhile, at the Flyers end of the ice, goalie Bernie Parent, a Montreal native, was practically standing on his head keeping the vaunted Montreal offence off the scoresheet.
Canadiens dominated the second stanza, outshooting the Flyers 13-4, but they could manage only a goal by Gilles Tremblay. Parent was especially brilliant during two unsuccessful Montreal power plays and that stretch really determined the outcome of the game. Parent had no chance on Tremblay’s goal, which came with the Flyers two men short.
Rochefort took over in the third with two more goals in just over three minutes to put the game out of reach. Philadelphia seemed to get stronger in the final frame, actually outshooting Canadiens 9-8.
Blues Upset Wings
The St. Louis Blues rode the solide goaltending of veteran Seth Martin to a surprising 3-2 win over the visiting Detroit Red Wings at The Arena in St. Louis last night. The game was a disjointed, scrambly affair with neither team being able to mount any kind of sustained attack.
The Blues never trailed in this one. Roger Picard of St. Louis scored the first period’s only goal with a minute left in the opening session.
The second period saw the Red Wings come back quickly to tie it at 1-1 on Bruce MacGregor’s third goal of the season. But the Blues surged back in front on Ron Schock’s first of the year, an unassisted marker at 3:48.
The scoreboard remained unchanged until 11:08 of the third. Veteran Ron Stewart netted the game winning goal for the Blues just as Terry Crisp returned to the ice after serving a minor penalty. Gerry Melnyk sent Stewart in alone on Red Wings goalie Roger Crozier with a beautiful pass and the former Toronto and Boston forward beat the Wings netminder with a 15-foot backhander.
Overall the Red Wings held a wide edge in play, as indicated by their shot differential – 33-24 for the Wings. But Martin stood tall and frustrated the Wings time and again and he was easily the difference in the game.
Penguins Grab Share of Lead
There weren’t many there to see it, and that’s a shame, as the Pittsburgh Penguins grabbed a share of first place in the NHL’s Western Division with a 1-0 win over the California (soon to be Oakland) Seals at Oakland. It was a spirited game, highlighted by a spectacular goalkeeping performance by Penguins backstop Les Binkley.
Unfortunately it was witnessed by only 4,549 fans in Oakland.
The only goal of the game happened early – at 1:23 of the first period, and it had a bit of an odour to it. Penguins winger Billy Dea retrieved the puck in the left corner of the California zone. With no shot from there, Dea just threw the puck near the front of the goal. The bounding disk hit the skate of California defenceman Kent Douglas, changing direction at a right angle. The puck slid past California goalie Charlie Hodge before he could react and went into the net.
The rest of the night belonged to Binkley. He made 31 saves, many of the from point-blank Seals shots. His best save of the night came in the first, when he stopped Seals Mike Laughton on a clear-cut breakaway. He would once again rob Laughton later in the game with a fine glove save.
California seemed to be coming on in the second period but a fight between the Seals’ Douglas and Pittsburgh’s Andy Bathgate seemed to dull the California attack. As a result of the brouhaha, California ended up with a power play thanks to an additional penalty to the Penguins’ Dunc McCallum. After they were unable to score with the man advantage, it seemed as if the home side just gave up the ghost.
The Penguins win, coupled with a tie by the Los Angeles Kings in Minnesota, left the Penguins and Kings dead even for the Western Division lead.
Kings, Stars Saw One Off
Veteran goalie Terry Sawchuk was at his best last night for the Los Angeles Kings as he held off the Minnesota North Stars and enabled the Kings to claim a point at The Met Centre in Bloomington, Minnesota. The North Stars and Kings battled to a 2-2 tie before 10,264 Minnesota fans.
Winger Ted Irvine scored both Los Angeles goals. Bill Goldsworthy and Wayne Connelly replied for Minnesota.
Kings coach Red Kelly was fuming after the game, feeling his team deserved a better fate. He was particularly upset by what he called “the bush league tactics of Minnesota coach Wren Blair.”
Among the things bothering Kelly was the placement of the Kings’ bench and the Kings having to play with a broken water pipe behind their net for two periods. There was a constant pool of water behind the goal at that end in which the puck continually was getting stuck.
Kelly was also upset with the officiating, and he indicated this is something that’s becoming a habit:
“I can’t understand why we keep getting more penalties than the other team – especially in the third period.”
It actually looked like the Kings might be able to hold off the North Stars for two periods. But the home side dominated in the final frame, outshooting the Kings 16-5. Only Sawchuk’s heroics kept Minnesota from running away with the game.
As it was, it took Connelly’s power play goal with just over five minutes left in the game to draw the Stars even.
- Rookie goalie Tony Esposito was the star for Vancouver as the Canucks and Rochester Americans tied 3-3 last night in Rochester. Esposito, who had been warming the bench for the Cleveland Barons so far this season, was acquired on loan by the Canucks yesterday. He suited up last night and was the game’s first star as he stymied the Rochester attack. It was Esposito’s first professional game. He is the brother of Boston’s Phil Esposito.
- Buffalo Bisons of the American Hockey League dropped a 2-1 decision to the Western Hockey League Seattle Totems at Seattle. Earl Heiskala and Keke Mortson scored for the Totems, with Mike Labadie connecting for Buffalo.
- Baltimore Clippers upset the Hershey Bears 5-2 in an AHL game at Baltimore. Jimmy Bartlett fired a pair of goals for the Clippers.
- Gerry Desjardins made 38 saves to lead the Cleveland Barons to a 1-0 win over the Quebec Aces in Cleveland. Bryan Watson scored the only goal of the game on Quebec goalie Fern Rivard.
- Defenceman scored the winning goal in the third period to give the Springfield Kings a 4-3 win over the Providence Reds at Springfield.