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Detroit Takes 2-1 Lead in NHL Semifinal

Apr. 1, 1964 - Gordie Howe (left) and Terry Sawchuk celebrated in high style last night, sweeping the Red Wings along with them to a 3-0 shutout of the Chicago Black Hawks at Detroit’s Olympia Stadium. Howe celebrated his 36th birthday by setting up the Wings’ first and third goals, and Sawchuk celebrated his 5 p.m. hospital release by throwing his 11th playoff shutout at the Hawks.

While Howe and Sawchuk were the dominant figures as the Wings took a 2-1 lead in the best-four-of-seven Stanley Cup semifinal series, the Wings drew sharp performances from everyone. Bruce MacGregor, rookie Paul Henderson, and Alex Delvecchio were the scorers, and MacGregor turned in a standout all-around game both with his line and as a penalty killer. The two graybeards of the blue line, Marcel Pronovost (center) and Bill Gadsby (right), continued to sweep pucks away from Sawchuk’s doorstep like energetic vacuum salesmen.

In the Detroit locker room, while the other Wings were whooping it up, Sawchuk slowly peeled off the heavy layers of underwear and padding which protect his frame. Then he just sat there, smiling the kind of smile that comes only to a man who knows he has done a magnificent job under the most difficult circumstances. Two nights earlier, a pinched nerve in the back of his neck struck Sawchuk out of the Red Wing lineup just five minutes after play had begun against the Hawks in Chicago. They sent Terry home, to Detroit Osteopathic Hospital, and there he had laid in traction much of the time, grimacing under the strong fingers of nurses most of the time.

“It wasn’t very restful,” he said. “But if that’s what it takes, that’s what it will be.” Sawchuk was released from the hospital only three hours before he was due on the ice last night at Olympia. “I was all right through the first two periods,” he said. “I thought I played well, but then I started to get tired in the last period. I guess that’s what comes from being laid up. But then, in the third period, I didn’t get much work anyway. Our guys were really checking them.”

Sawchuk said he suffered none of the severe pain which forced the Wings to resort to untried Bob Champoux Sunday night. Luckily, the strong, persistent work of the Wing defense let Champoux beat the Hawks, 5-4. The same sort of work was evident last night.

“We’re not really doing much different than the last few months,” insisted coach Sid Abel. “We’ve been matching them line for line. But work, good, hard work is the thing that has been keeping us in control of play.”

For his part, Abel was not insistent on Sawchuk returning to the hospital to await Thursday’s fourth Cup game, again at Olympia. “I’d really like to take him to Toledo [the Wings’ between-games hideaway],” Abel said. “But I’ll talk to him later and decide for sure. It might be best if he did spend the time in the hospital, just to be safe.”

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