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Red Wings One Win from Stanley Cup Championship

Apr. 21, 1964 - Detroit outbattled Toronto at every turn tonight and edged the defending league champions, 2-1, at Maple Leaf Gardens to take a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final back to Detroit for Thursday night’s sixth game.

The indomitable Gordie Howe fired the Red Wing’s first goal in the opening period, and scrappy Ed Joyal extended the lead to 2-0 in the third before George Armstrong beat Detroit goalie Terry Sawchuk late in the game with two Wings in the penalty box.

Detroit got outstanding goaltending from Sawchuk, who stopped 33 shots — including several breakaways in an exceptionally wide-open game. He made breakaway saves on Dave Keon in the first period and later on Bob Pulford and Armstrong.

Detroit manager-coach Sid Abel admitted he was happy: “Why shouldn’t I be? For perhaps the first time in the series, I feel really confident we can take them. We came out fast in the first period and beat them to the puck, except for the final period. I was using four lines, and I intended to keep Gordie, Marcel [Pronovost], Bill [Gadsby], and Alex [Delvecchio] on the bench most of the period except for the last five minutes. Then the referee gives us two penalties, and all my plans go out the window.”

Abel said it was nice going back to Detroit with a series lead. “The Leafs are on the spot now,” he said. “They’ve got to win twice. We need only one, and we get two chances if needed.”

Manager-coach Punch Imlach of Toronto said after tonight’s loss that the officiating “just substantiates what I said the other night.” He was referring to a remark he made last week that Frank Udvari was “the worst referee in the league.”

“I don’t want to say anything that might cost me $1,000,” Imlach continued, “but that Udvari is blind.” The Toronto coach was annoyed over Udvari’s failure to call a penalty on Gordie Howe, who nullified a play by Red Kelly in front of the Detroit net when Kelly appeared to have the defenders beaten.

Imlach said he is now in the same position as he was with the Montreal Canadiens in the semifinal. “I think the Canadiens are a lot better hockey club than the Wings,” he said, “so we just have to go back and prove again we can win two big ones in a row.”

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