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Leafs Top Wings in OT, Even NHL Finals at 3-3

Apr. 24, 1964 - The Toronto Maple Leafs, rulers of the NHL for two years, unleashed their power in overtime last night to defeat Red Wings, 4-3, at Detroit’s Olympia Stadium and force a seventh game.

After a sweat and toil-filled three periods, defenseman Bob Baun, who was carried off on a stretcher earlier in the game, ended it quickly with a screened goal on Terry Sawchuk at 1:43 of the first overtime period.

The Wings, who have showed indomitable spirit throughout the six games, battled from behind, took a 3-2 lead in the second period, and fought the Leafs to a standstill in the nerve-wracking third.

The end was anti-climactic and came so quickly that many of the 15,222 Detroit partisans who packed the humid Stadium could hardly believe it had happened.

Baun took a pass from Bob Pulford, the best of the Leafs tonight, and wrapped home a high one that Sawchuk apparently did not see until it went over his shoulder.

After the game, Sawchuk was in no mood for interviews. “It’s simple,” he said. “Baun’s shot hit [Detroit defenseman Bill] Gadsby’s stick and went past me. I couldn’t move on it. That’s all. You saw the game.”

Gadsby was dejected. “I thought we were going to get the Cup tonight,” said the scar-faced defenseman. “On the winner, I didn’t see the puck until the last second. By then it was too late to get the stick out of the way. The puck just ticked it enough to deflect past Terry.”

The Wings scored all their goals in the second period, with rookies Paul Henderson and Pit Martin and old pro Gordie Howe providing the firepower. With his ninth goal of the playoffs, Howe became the second highest playoff scorer in history, breaking a tie with Montreal’s Bernie Geoffrion. Howe now has 57 playoff goals compared to Maurice (Rocket) Richard’s all-time mark of 82.

In the most tension-filled playoff in years, both NHL semifinal series were stretched to seven games and the final now runs into the possibility of an unprecedented eighth game. Should the teams remain tied after one overtime period Saturday night, Toronto’s curfew law would force an eighth game in the Ontario city.

Detroit manager-coach Sid Abel took the defeat philosophically. “It’s easy to say we should have won the game in the third period when he them on the ropes,” he said. “But the winning goal was just one of those things that happen in playoff hockey.”

Toronto hero Bob Baun said of his winning goal: “The puck came back to me on the bounce just inside the line. It was on edge. I swung and saw it take a big hop into the net.”

Baun, a 28-year-old rock on the Leafs’ defense, had been carried from the ice on a stretcher after 13 minutes in the second period when he collapsed in front of goalie Johnny Bower. Before the period ended, he was back and, although he couldn’t diagnose his own injury, he thought it was a pinched nerve.

“Let’s wait until the doctor looks at it before we try to say what it was. But that winning goal sure made me feel lots better,” he smiled.

In an anteroom away from his players, Toronto coach Punch Imlach was far from overconfident.

“Pressure hockey,” he said. “That’s all it is, and Bobby’s shot made it for us. The turning point in this game? The winning goal.”

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