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Maple Leafs Shut Out Candiens, Force 7th Game in NHL Semifinal

Apr. 8, 1964 - Veteran Johnny Bower, who had been blamed for a couple of defeats in the NHL semifinal playoffs, returned to his old goaltending self last night, and the Toronto Maple Leafs shut out the Canadiens, 3-0, before 14,417 screaming fans at Maple Leaf Gardens.

“Now everything is for the biscuits Thursday night,” quipped Toronto coach Punch Imlach, referring to the deciding game of the best-of-seven series at the Montreal Forum.

Ex-Ranger Don McKenney scored his third goal of the series in the ninth minute of the middle period, and defenseman Bobby Baun got a breakaway for the second tally five minutes later. Andy Bathgate’s tally into a wide-open net in the third period was just the icing on the Leafs’ victory as they held Montreal to few shots on goal.

The Toronto defense of Baun, Allan Stanley, Carl Brewer, and Tim Horton strung out across the blueline after the Leafs had taken their lead and the Habs never threatened.

Frank Clancy, the Toronto assistant manager, summed up the fast-skating game which was the best of the series: “After Bower made that big save on [Dave] Balon in the first period, I knew we were on our way. This team can skate with any team if it wants to, and tonight the Leafs knew they had to work.”

Bower, who made 25 saves to rack up his third shutout in 123 playoff games, thanked his defense for tremendous support.

“In some of the other games, I had been playing too close to my crease,” Bower said. “Tonight, I was moving out a bit and the defense was standing up and not backing in on me.”

Bower refused to say whether Balon’s cut-in from the left side was the hardest save he had to make. “You write it, I’ll stop them,” said Johnny.

In the Montreal locker room, enraged head coach Toe Blake lit into one Montreal writer as soon as he saw him.

“I wish you’d get things straight!” barked Blake. “I never said we were sure to win tonight and that the final series would start in Montreal Thursday. I said all along this was going to be a tough series all the way.”

Silence reigned for just a few moments until another writer questioned Blake about the game.

“The score was three to nothing,” said Toe. “Three goals. You can count, can’t you? What the hell do you expect me to say?”

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