Two National Hockey League games on which to report today, including a win by the New York Rangers over the Detroit Red Wings which drops the Stanley Cup champion Toronto Maple Leafs to fifth place and out of a playoff spot.
Rangers 3 Red Wings 2
Rod Gilbert’s goal with just 7:33 left in the game gave the New York Rangers a narrow 3-2 win over the Red Wings in Detroit. The victory gives New York solo possession of the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Division, two points ahead of Toronto.
Gilbert’s goal was his 20th of the season and came on a 25-foot snap shot past Detroit defenceman Howie Young. He beat a partially screened Red Wing goalie Roger Crozier on the glove side. Crozier had little chance on the play.
Gilbert describes the goal:
“I thought they (Young and Crozier) both played it right. Young kept backing in and that made it like two one-on-one situations, he guarding against the pass to Cammie (Henry) and Crozier on me.
“There was just a little bit of net, and it had to be a perfect shot to score.”
Bob Nevin had given the Rangers an early 1-0 lead when he scored at 2:26 of the opening frame. About 12 minutes later, Red Wing defenceman Gary Bergman knotted the score at 1-1 and that’s how the first period ended.
The second period saw New York take a 2-1 lead on Harry Howell’s fourth goal of the season. It stayed that way until 1:22 of the third when Norm Ullman netted his 25th of the year to once again tie it up.
Red Wings general manager-coach Sid Abel huddled with assistant Baz Bastien and owner Bruce Norris after the game. The Wings’ brain trust couldn’t have been impressed with the rather docile performance of their team. The difference in the game was made by the Rangers’ aggressiveness and the Wings’ lack of resistance.
Abel suggests that there will be changes to the team:
“I don’t know just what yet, but something will be done.”
Of course, at this late date in the season, even moves that are major in nature could be far too late. The Wings are nine points out of a playoff spot and seven behind the fifth place Maple Leafs. Time is running out.
Kings 3 Penguins 1
The Los Angeles Kings kept themselves ahead of the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins last night with a 3-1 win over the Pittsburghers. The Kings remain in third place in the Western Division, two up on the Pens. Los Angeles now has a 6-2 edged in their season series.
Winger Real Lemieux was the spark the Kings needed all night. He scored a goal, earned three penalties and was a general disrupter against the Penguins. His feistiness kept the visitors off balance every time he was on the ice, and doubtless motivated his mates to do the same.
After a scoreless first period, the Kings grabbed a 2-0 lead in the second on goals by Gordon Labossiere and Cowboy Flett just a minute and 22 seconds apart, starting at 13:11.
Penguins captain Ab McDonald narrowed the gap to 2-1 with about three minutes left in the middle frame to ruin the shutout attempt by Wayne Rutledge, who played well in goal for the Kings.
Lemieux restored the two-goal edge just 22 seconds into the third. As he exited the penalty box he took a pass from Howie Hughes and broke in alone to beat Pittsburgh goalie Les Binkley.
Lemieux, known as a rough customer during his junior and minor professional days, had eschewed that style for most of this season, his first in the NHL. He explained his return to his old form after the game:
“I play better when I’m picking up penalties. So, I’m picking up penalties.”
Another top player for the Kings was defenceman Dave Amadio, called up from Springfield for the game. Coach Red Kelly said he was happy with the addition during his post-game comments:
“That Amadio played a tremendous game. He beefed up our defense.
“This is a heck of a big win. A home stand is great, but you have to do something with it. We have to keep winning.”
Rumours of a big trade were running rampant around the Forum after the game. Kelly was huddled with general manager Larry Regan after Regan had been conversing with Penguins coach Red Sullivan. Regan was also seen talking with the North Stars manager Wren Blair and Punch Imlach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who were both on hand at the Forum.
The Maple Leafs present an interesting possibility for the Kings. Right winger Jim Pappin has said he’s quitting the Leafs after being demoted to the AHL Rochester Americans. He says he won’t play again until he’s traded to another NHL team.
Imlach and Regan go back a long way. Even though there was acrimony between the two teams at last summer’s Expansion Draft (remember the Red Kelly affair) there are ample connections between the two management teams to form the basis of some sort of exchange.
- Canada shockingly lost to Finland at the Olympics by a 5-2 score. Many observers called this version of the Canadian national team as Canada’s “worst ever.” Danny O’Shea and Billy MacMillan were the Canadian goal scorers.
- Right winger Jim Pappin has told his employers, the Toronto Maple Leafs, that he is retiring rather than report to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League. Toronto announced that Pappin was being sent to the Amerks after practice yesterday. Pappin was asked if he would change his mind about the situation and he said: “No I won’t, I’m retiring. That’s it. The Leafs can trade me. I’m through until they trade me.”
- Maple Leafs can use call-ups Andre Hinse and Duke Harris for five games before having to ask waivers to send them back to the minors. Mike Pelyk was called up under emergency conditions, to replace the injured Tim Horton. His five-game stint won’t begin until Horton returns to the lineup. That all seems irrelevant, since Punch Imlach has said Pelyk has earned a permanent spot with the Leafs.
- Minnesota North Stars have lost centre Ray Cullen for about two weeks with a hairline fracture of the right ankle. Cullen is the North Stars leading goal scorer. He has 23 goals and 20 assists for 43 points this season.
- Chicago Black Hawks have, as expected, sent defenceman Matt Ravlich to Dallas of the Central Professional Hockey League to play himself back into shape. Ravlich hasn’t played a league game since March 28 when he suffered a badly broken left leg. There is no timetable for his return to the big club.
- Louis Blues have lost rookie right winger Gary Sabourin for about two weeks with torn muscles in his right shoulder.
- In the wake of Tuesday night’s ice-condition debacle at The Forum, Los Angeles Kings owner Jack Kent Cooke has cancelled further indoor midget auto racing in the building. Cooke wants to ensure that the ice has adequate time to be properly formed.
- The newly-formed CPHL players association has won the release of forward Mike Chernoff from the Dallas Black Hawks. Chernoff had been involved in a dispute with authoritarian coach Bobby Kromm and was suspended without pay for rather flimsy reasons. He will now be a free agent, able to sign with any organization.