Monday, 22 April 2013

Today In Habs History: April 22nd Edition

With speculation of a potential Habs-Leafs playoffs matchup in 2013, it’s appropriate to note that this day in 1979 marks the last post-season faceoff between these two Original Six teams.

Coming off three straight Stanley Cups, and falling just a point behind the up and coming New York Islanders for first place overall, the Canadiens earned a bye into the Quarter Finals.

The Leafs were looking for retribution from a 4-0 series sweep at the hands of the Habs in the ‘78 Semi-Finals, and had a late regular season surge to ensure another playoff berth. After dispatching the Atlanta Flames in two straight games, they looked ahead to their long-time rivals.

The Blue and White certainly didn’t get what they hoped for, losing Games One and Two at the Forum by scores of 5-2 and 5-1 respectively.

Game Three saw an exchange of goals with Darryl Sittler tying the score at 17:43 of the third period at three goals apiece. The first overtime solved nothing and 5:25, Canadiens forward Can Connor scored the goal of his career on the 48th shot directed at Leafs goalie Mike Palmateer.

The fourth game again went into overtime. The Canadiens put up four-goal lead on the Leafs and appeared headed to an easy finish. Scotty Bowman decided to rest his players, fielding just 14 skaters, including four defencemen and the Leafs took advantage of the tired Montreal team with four unanswered goals to tie things up.

“They were coming at us and we were letting them,” said Habs defenceman Larry Robinson. “There’s no real excuse for that.”

The Canadiens finally put things to an end in the extra period. Referee Bob Myers sent Leafs’ forward Tiger Williams to the penalty box on a high sticking call. On the power play, Robinson fired a 40-foot shot that beat Paul Harrison at 4:14 to secure the sweep..

It was Robinson who had drawn the high-sticking call, one the Leafs coach Roger Neilson felt was a bad one after viewing the video tape. “I am sure it was a questionable call,” said Neilson, who would be fired as Leafs coach immediately following the series. “Williams just threw a hard check, Robinson ducked and went down and Myers calls it a high stick.”

Robinson felt otherwise, claiming the Leafs had been getting away with a lot of high sticking infringements throughout the series. “They can’t finish their checks, without getting their sticks up,” Robinson said after the game. “Every time they had their sticks up in our face and this time they paid for it.”

Leafs forward Dan Maloney, who scored the tying goal in the third period felt the penalty deflated their hopes. “It doesn’t seem right,” Maloney said. “He takes away our chances on a call like that.”

Maloney, coming across as a bit of a sore loser, also questioned Bowman’s use of Robinson, Guy Lapointe and Serge Savard. “They rely entirely too much on their big three defencemen. Savard, Lapointe and Robinson are all great hockey players, but they are playing 40 minutes a game. He has other guys. Why didn’t he use them?”

The Canadiens went on to the memorable Semi-Final matchup against the Boston Bruins, and ultimately their fourth straight Stanley Cup.

Game Four of the Canadiens Quarter-Finals matchup also had some milestones for goaltender Ken Dryden who played in his 100th playoff game between the pipes. The playoff win gave him 72 in his career, topping Jacques Plante on the franchise’s all-time list.

 

Also on this day…

 

1975: Guy Lafleur scored at 17:06 of overtime to give the Canadiens a 5-4 win over the Vancouver Canucks. The Canadiens won the Quarter-Final series in five games, and advanced to the Semi-Finals against the Buffalo Sabres.

 

1980: Steve Shutt scored a hat trick as the Canadiens won 6-2 over the Minnesota North Stars, in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Quarter-Finals.

 

1993: Vince Damphousse scored the winning goal on a power play at 10:30 of overtime, and had an earlier assist, to lead the Canadiens to a 2-1 playoff win over the Quebec Nordiques in Montreal, in Game 3 of the Adams Division Semi-Finals.

 

Habs Born on This Day: Zarley Zalapski (1968)

 

Sources:

www.hhof.com

www.sihrhockey.org

“Connor rewarded for homework in overtime marathon” The Montreal Gazette, April 23, 1979

“Canadiens Sweep Away Maple Leafs” The Montreal Gazette, April 23, 1979

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