The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Chicago Black Hawks 3-2 last night in Montreal to take the first game of the best-of-seven Stanley Cup final series. Game two goes Tuesday in Montreal.
Rookie nets the game-winner
Rookie Montreal forward Yvan Cournoyer connected for his second playoff goal at 8:59 of the third period to give Montreal a lead they would not relinquish.
Montreal surprised everyone and started Gump Worsley in goal, after coach Toe Blake spent the previous couple of days convincing everyone that Charley Hodge would be between the pipes for the Habs. Worsley came up big, especially in the first period when the Hawks held a slight advantage in play. Hawks outshot Montreal 10-7 in the initial frame, which ended scoreless.
Canadiens dominated the second period and opened the scoring at 2:39 with Henri Richard’s fifth of the playoffs. Richard took a pass from Red Berenson, skated into the Chicago zone and beat Hawks goalie Glenn Hall with a wicked shot from about 50 feet.
Richard later said, “That must have been my best shot all season. I don’t think Hall saw it at all.”
Henry finally finds the range
Just over two minutes later, Camille Henry tied it up for the Hawks on a power play. Jean Beliveau was in the penalty box for crosschecking when Henry deflected Bobby Hull’s shot past Worsley. who had no chance.
Montreal came right back to take the lead with John Ferguson finding the net only 29 seconds after Henry’s goal. Ferguson was in on the forecheck and blocked a pass by Chicago defenceman Doug Jarrett. He stepped around Jarrett and beat Hall from close-in with a backhand shot after a quick deke.
Chicago tied things up at 2:38 of the final frame on a goal by defenceman Matt Ravlich, his first career playoff goal. With Henri Richard off for hooking Ravlich fired a 35-footer that appeared to be deflected on its way to the Montreal net.
Mikita denied credit for goal
Worsley said after the game that Ravlich’s shot hit Stan Mikita’s stick and changed direction. Mikita also told referee Art Skov, who relayed the information to Laurie Crovat of New York. He refused to change his ruling and Ravlich remained credited with the goal.
That set the stage for Cournoyer’s game-winner. Jean Beliveau started the play, getting the puck to Ted Harris at the point. Harris’ shot was stopped by Hall but Cournoyer was Johnny-on-the-spot and flipped the rebound home over a helpless Hall. Chico Maki of the Hawks was off for holding at the time.
Worsley discussed his surprise start after the game. He had told Blake that because of the flu, he would likely be too weak to play, thus Blake’s earlier statement that Charley Hodge would start.
“I was weak as a kitten with that flu. Then early Saturday I managed to tie into a big steak. It made a new man of me. After this win I never felt better, but honestly Toe didn’t know until game time that I was okay.”
Worsley praises Provost
Worsley also had praise for the checking job Claude Provost did on Bobby Hull.
“That Claude Provost is my boy. He held Bobby Hull to one shot on goal and that’s as close to Utopia I’ll ever come in this business.”
Toe Blake thought his team played better in the semi-final, but he was nonetheless happy with the win.
“I think we played much better hockey in all our semi-final games with Toronto. We seemed over-cautious in this game. In the first period our fellows let Hawks set the pace and they were walking.
“They can play a lot better than that and we’ll have to play a whale of a lot better if we expect to win the series.
“I’ll have to think of something new in Chicago because Billy Reay has the final line change there. And I know he’ll try to keep Hull away from Provost and Mikita away from Beliveau.”
Blake was asked about his surprise switch in goalies. His explanation was simple:
“I just changed my mind – just like a woman.”
Hawks coach Billy Reay was philosophical about the loss.
“We just lost a hockey game we might have won. I thought we played well enough. We’ll make out okay.”
Hawks GM not happy with Art Skov
Chicago general manager Tommy Ivan had a lot to say after the game.
“We missed Pierre Pilote on our power play. Of course we did get two power play goals, but we didn’t look too dangerous on the other occasions when we had a man advantage.”
Ivan was also upset on the holding call on Chico Maki that led to the game-winning goal.
“If that’s holding, I don’t know what they call some of things that are done to Bobby Hull. He (referee Art Skov) wasn’t going to call it but the crowd yelled and he did.”
Hawks call up three from Buffalo
Both Pilote and Ken Wharram, who also missed the game, said that they are confident they will be ready for game two. However, if neither player is ready to go, the Hawks called up three players from the Buffalo Bisons of the AHL. Buffalo was eliminated by Hershey on the weekend.
Making their way to Montreal for game two and a possible fill-in role for Chicago are defencemen John Miszuk and Don Johns, and forward Gerry Melnyk.
Niagara Falls demolishes Garson
OHA Junior A champion Niagara Falls Flyers should make short work of the Garson Native Sons if the first game of their Memorial Cup semi-final is any indication. The Flyers coasted to an embarrassingly one-sided 18-3 win over the Northern Ontario champions. The result was so decisive, there is talk that the series, slated to be a best-of-seven, may be switched to a best-of-five.
Jean Pronovost scored four goals for Niagara. Don Marcotte, Bud Debrody, Ted Snell, Derek Sanderson and Steve Atkinson netted two each. Singles came from Rosaire Paiement, Andre Lajeunesse, Brian Bradley and Dave Woodley.
Garson marksmen were Don Lewis, Roy Bresnahan and Dick Proceviat.
The game was a wide-open affair with little or no hitting. Flyer forward Mike Sherman said after the game,
“They’re so much smaller than us, we didn’t want to hurt them.”
Retired police detective, involved in hockey at all levels for over 50 years. Member of Society for International Hockey Research and presently a video analyst for the leader in advanced hockey analytics (we work exclusively for 2 NHL clubs, and provide advice on an ad hoc basis to many other clients). Currently the Assistant General Manager for the Pelham Pirates of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. Previously owned the Faceoff computer hockey simulation and also provided all player ratings for the EA Sports series of NHL computer games from the late 90’s into the mid 2000’s.