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The scalpers in Montreal were getting only $60 for a pair of $10 tickets as the teams lined up Saturday night for what Francis predicted would be a physical game. "I haven't told my guys to hit and I haven't told them not to hit," Bowman said. The Canadiens hit. Peter Mahovlich dazed Fairbairn with a vicious elbow, then Jacques Laperriere smashed Bruce MacGregor into the boards. Hadfield came onto the ice and gave Harper a hard shot, and three Canadiens hacked away at Hadfield in return. Jacques Lemaire slammed Brad Park into the boards, then Peter Mahovlich slashed Fairbairn. Before the period was 16 minutes old the Canadiens had been given 10 minutes in penalties, and they had to play almost nine of those first 16 minutes shorthanded.
Miraculously they escaped, thanks to Dryden. For many minutes the Rangers passed the puck back and forth along the crease. It looked like a Ping-Pong game with Dryden the judge. Ken robbed Hadfield, then Goyette, then Gilbert, then Tkaczuk, then Gilbert again. "I think the Rangers just got tired from passing the puck around and didn't have any energy left when they were ready to shoot," Dryden said. Francis kept shaking his head. "I have never in all my days seen so many passes go through the crease without getting into the net," he said.
Once past that barrage the Canadiens played a style of hockey they had not exhibited in New York. Tremblay was marvelous, having one of his J.C. Superstar nights. Montreal defensemen continually stopped the Rangers at the blue line, and in the second period the Canadiens broke through on the power play as Frank Mahovlich converted a perfect pass from brother Pete. Later in the period Marc Tardif backhanded a 15-footer past Giacomin after Rod Seiling had blocked his original shot.
Montreal made one defensive lapse in the period when Ron Stewart sneaked behind the defense, took a pass from Sather and beat Dryden cleanly, but after that Dryden and Tremblay kept the situation under control, and the Canadiens won 2-1.
"It's pretty simple," Harper said afterward. "When we don't let them stand around and play with the puck, we win. When we are spectators, we lose."
Back at the Forum on Sunday night the teams went on a scoring binge. First to hit was Fairbairn for New York, then Rousseau, then Lemaire for the Canadiens, followed by Rousseau once more, Montreal's Tardif and the man who wanted to reclaim his old property adjacent to Dryden, Vic Hadfield. This was all in the first period and the Rangers led 4-2. No muscle to speak of was utilized by either side, possibly because the teams were playing their fourth game in five nights and were willing to let the sticks talk.
Montreal gained a little in the second period with a goal by Cournoyer and got another in the third from Harper to tie it up and lift the Forum's lid. But with five minutes remaining one Pete Stemkowski stole the puck from guess who—yep, Tremblay—and beat Dryden. An empty-net goal made it 6-4 and a 3-1 lead in the series for little old New York.
Ah, spring. For Manhattan it was beginning to be all rite.