"You wouldn't believe it was J.C. up there dangling from a ladder," a teammate said, "but it was. I can't tell you how courageous he was."
After a strong start against New York, Tremblay somehow got stuck in reverse and spent the rest of the game skating backward on Dryden. With slightly more than seven minutes remaining, Tremblay had the puck in the corner to Dryden's left. "I started to make my deke on Gilbert," he said later, "and the puck got away from me." It rolled to Rousseau. Again Hadfield was parked at Dryden's crease. "Bobby!" he yelled. The puck was there in a flash. Dryden was beaten on another four-footer and the Rangers won the game 3-2.
"We've got to watch Hadfield," Tremblay said. "That's the trouble," said another Canadien. "We've been watching him."
The following night rookie Guy Lafleur gave the Canadiens a 1-0 lead, but in rapid order Defenseman Dale Rolfe and Stewart both scored from the goal mouth to put the Rangers ahead.
Later Tremblay took a puck in the face and went off for 10 stitches, so Terry Harper came on to replace him. Harper rivals Chicago's Keith Magnuson for the annual gamest player award. He will challenge and tight anyone, and though he usually loses, he does inspire his more reluctant mates to greater efforts. When Harper appeared, bodies began to crash, and suddenly Hadfield lost his mortgage on the patch of ice to Dryden's right. Playing their best hockey since the start of the series, the Canadiens tied the score in the second period and continued to dominate play until Harper and Hadfield clashed in the last minute of the period.
Harper was sitting on the bench when Hadfield skated past and brushed him with his stick. "Because of my injured thumb I can't control my stick very well," Hadfield explained, smiling. "When I skated past their bench and got near Harper, the stick got away from me." At the next whistle Harper leaped from the bench, skated toward Hadfield and unloaded a left elbow, but it missed. The two jawed for several minutes, until Francis removed Hadfield and sent out Glen Sather, his No. 1 disturber. "I told Sather to whisper sweet nothings in Harper's ear," Francis said. "I told him to tell Harper what a nice fellow he is."
Sather, who spent one summer taking graduate courses in child psychology at Memphis State University, told Harper he liked the way he parted his hair. Up came the elbows. Up came the sticks. And both were penalized. "That Sather, he's a master," Francis said. "Hey, we're all kids, aren't we?" was what Sather said.
Sather's enterprise obviously stirred the Rangers, for they roared out for the third period and scored three times to take the game 5-2. The winning goal came only 20 seconds into the period when Bill Fairbairn beat Dryden with a weak backhander from about 15 feet. Dryden blamed himself for the goal. "I lost track of the net," he said. "I made a terrible play. No excuses."
Carr dominated Cournoyer, holding him to only two shots, but the Canadiens were able to stymie Hadfield, too, thanks mostly to Harper's body bending. Goalie Eddie Giacomin played solidly for the Rangers in both games and New York's penalty killing was spectacular, with Fairbairn and Walt Tkaczuk handling the puck so effectively that the Canadians had no shots at Giacomin during four of their eight power plays.
As the series switched to Montreal, Bowman mapped a few changes: he planned to get Cournoyer away from Carr. He would have Henri Richard and Claude Larose, two of his most industrious skaters, play head-to-head against Tkaczuk and Fairbairn, respectively. "The only way to stop them is to outwork them if you can," Bowman said.