Four NHL coaches received ties for Christmas last night as a full slate of three Yuletide games was played. Montreal and Detroit battled to a 2-2 draw in Detroit, while Toronto traveled to Chicago and skated to a 3-3 stalemate with the Black Hawks. In the only game to actually reach a decision, the Rangers blanked the Bruins in Boston.
Howe paces Wings
In Detroit, Gordie Howe scored both Wings’ goals to give the home side their tie with the Canadiens. His second of the game, at 4:06 of the final frame, pulled the Wings from down a goal into the tie. Montreal coach Toe Blake and the rest of his team protested Howe’s goal vociferously, claiming Howe was offside on the play. Blake came close to going onto the ice to continue the dispute with referee Vern Buffey, actually getting one foot onto the playing surface before reconsidering. Defenceman Jacques Laperriere didn’t reconsider his argument quite in time, and was nailed with a 10-minute misconduct.
Montreal goals were scored by Claude Provost, his 10th, and Claude Larose, who counted number 8.
The Red Wings Roger Crozier was the busier of the two goaltenders, making 31 saves. Charlie Hodge stopped 25 for the visitors.
Leafs blow lead
At the Chicago Stadium, the tie Punch Imlach was gifted by his club was more of a present to the Black Hawks. Imlach’s Leafs surrendered a 3-1 and had to settle for the 3-3 tie that left the usually glib Imlach almost speechless.
“How do I know what happened to them?” was the Toronto coach’s only response when asked about the blown lead. He did calm down somewhat a few minutes later and offered this explanation:
“I suppose they’re not machines. Sure we were checking them tight. But they’re people and people let down. But even with blowing a two-goal lead, we still should have won the game in the last three seconds.”
Imlach was referring to a clear-cut chance by Don McKenny as the clock wound down. Hawks’ netminder Glenn Hall made a great save on the Toronto left winger, getting a pad on McKenny’s shot to deflect the puck wide.
Ron Ellis, Frank Mahovlich and Ron Stewart scored second period goals for the Leafs after Bill Hay had give Chicago a 1-0 first-period lead. In the third, Stan Mikita narrowed the gap to one at 13:29. That set the stage for Eric Nesterenko to tie it up with 4:22 left to play. The one-time Leaf took a pass from Bobby Hull while the Hawks were killing a penalty and beat Terry Sawchuk with a rising shot.
Rangers end winless skein
Camille Henry scored twice while Jacques Plante provided flawless goaltending as the Rangers ended a seven-game winless streak in Boston.
Plante made 32 saves for the Rangers en route to his 62nd career shutout. He frustrated the Bruins at every turn and gave the home side nothing on which to build throughout the game.
Henry started the scoring with his 13th of the season at 14:01 of the first period. The score remained that way until 8:24 of the final frame when Henry counted again. Five minutes later rookie Lou Angotti fired his 3rd of the season to put the wraps on this one.
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.