As he spoke, Mahovlich was the hottest gunner in the NHL, with 13 goals in 11 games. "The amazing thing," said Coach Scotty Bowman, "is that he has taken only 35 shots. That's almost 40%. Just incredible."
As the game began, hostilities flared immediately. Stan Mikita crashed into J. C. Tremblay, and then Magnuson and Pete Mahovlich battered each other. Even little Houle ran at Magnuson. What Houle—and Claude Larose, at times—did to Hull was practically criminal, and Bobby got only one shot on Montreal's Ken Dryden all night. Mahovlich got less attention—but no more shots. Thus, as the heavyweights sparred, the outcome turned on the performances of supporting players—especially the goalies.
Midway in the second period Chicago Defenseman Bill White, the best player on the ice this night, scored from a face-off, and Chicago led 1-0. Rookie Guy Lafleur, who is groping to find his way, tied the score with a blast past Chicago's Gary Smith. Then, near the end of the period, Magnuson erupted. He held Lemaire against the boards and, noticing that Referee Bill Friday was calling a penalty, started to punch Lemaire. Eventually Lemaire retaliated. Friday gave Magnuson three two-minute minor penalties for his conduct and Lemaire only two minutes altogether.
The Black Hawks, thanks to superb defensive work by White and Pat Stapleton, survived Magnuson's four minutes alone in the penalty box. But in the third period Guy Lapointe, the second-year Montreal defenseman, took the puck from Dryden, skated the length of the ice and, with a neat move, beat Smith. That won the game for Montreal 2-1.
"He made a great play," Reay said. "We have no complaints, except that we didn't win, of course."
"I don't know where we would have been without Dryden," Bowman said afterward. "He keeps making the big saves. Why, they've scored on him in only six of the last 21 periods he has played."
Flying to Boston, where Frank Mahovlich scored the winning goal in a 3-2 victory over the Bruins Sunday night, Bowman admitted to being depressed about the Canadiens' performance so far this year, even though they were close on the heels of New York, "These guys turned it on for six weeks last year and they won the cup," he said. "They think they can do it again. They're winning now, but some night Dryden won't be back there and they'll see how different things can be.
" Dryden has had more than 30 shots on him in 10 of our 12 games. The players are beginning to think he's a miracle worker. Well, he was last year. And the way they're playing, he'll have to be a miracle worker again this year."
Next Hawk-Canadien confrontation: Nov. 24 in Chicago. Biggest miracle will be getting a ticket.