Changes paid off in Game 2
With Tony Esposito between the pipes - and the Ratelle line on the bench - Team Canada got back to playing tough defence.
* Part 2 of Red Fisher feature series on the 40th anniversary of 1972 Summit Series focusing on Game 2, which Canada won 4-1.
Wholesale changes were expected for Game 2 in Toronto following the stunning 7-3 thrashing Team Canada had absorbed two nights earlier in the Summit Series start at the Forum.
Serge Savard, Pat Stapleton and Bill White joined Gary Bergman, Brad Park and Guy Lapointe on defence, while Rod Seiling and Don Awrey, who had played in Game 1, weren’t dressed. New faces among the forwards were Bill Goldsworthy, Wayne Cashman, Stan Mikita and Jean-Paul Parise. Tony Esposito replaced Ken Dryden in goal, but the biggest of the changes was the benching of the Rod Gilbert-Jean Ratelle-Vic Hadfield line, which had scored 139 goals for the New York Rangers during the regular season.
“Are we shocked?” Hadfield asked after the changes were announced. “No, I wouldn’t say that. Surprised maybe, but there are a lot of good players on this team. This isn’t the time to gripe. This is a time to pull together.”
Coach Harry Sinden had an explanation for the massive change — particularly where it involved the Rangers trio.
“The type of game we need to beat this Soviet team is not ideally suited to the Ratelle line,” Sinden said. “We need more of a forechecking game, and it’s not really their strong game.
“The game we played never will be good enough to beat that team. I have never kidded myself about the Soviet team, but I will admit I never thought they could play as well as they did,” Sinden added. “What surprised me most of all was their ability as individuals to beat our players in one-on-one situations.”
Nobody ever said it would be easy — and it wasn’t, even though Team Canada outshot the Soviets in each of the three periods and 36-21 overall in Game 2. There was no scoring in the first period, but Phil Esposito’s goal 7:14 into the second sent Team Canada into the intermission with a 1-0 lead.
Yvan Cournoyer doubled the lead 1:19 into the third period, but a little more than four minutes later Alexander Yakushev’s goal had Canadian hearts beating faster. Not for long, though. Less than a minute later, Peter Mahovlich scored the goal of the game and, as it developed, the series up to that point.
The Yakushev goal was scored while Bobby Clarke was sitting out a slashing penalty. At 6:14, Pat Stapleton was caught with a hooking minor. Only one goal separated the teams and the hope was that Esposito and Mahovlich could kill off the penalty against a Soviet team whose seeing-eye passes fed off their excellence while enjoying a man advantage.
What happened instead was that Esposito started the play by feeding Mahovlich outside the Soviet blue line. Defenceman Yevgeni Paladiev waited for the onrushing Mahovlich, who faked to his left, moved to his right and beat Vladislav Tretiak. A little more than two minutes later, his brother Frank scored the final goal in this badly needed 4-1 victory on assists from Mikita and Cournoyer.
Savard, who hadn’t been dressed for Game 1, was one of the stars at Maple Leaf Gardens. He had started slowly, but by midway through the first period he was an eye-catcher with his long strides and the spinarama he used so frequently and effectively against NHL opposition.
“All through training camp,” Savard was to mention after the game, “I don’t think we really put enough emphasis on defence. All the time it was goals … goals … how many goals we were going to beat them by. Score! Score! But tonight, we brought some defence back into the game.”
What they also brought, Dryden noted, were several key stops from Esposito in the scoreless first period.
“Tony made two big saves in the first period, and then we started to take control with our aggressiveness,” Dryden said. “I had that feeling even when we led by only 1-0, that we had taken control. People were coming back tonight. Our defence played exceptionally well.”
Not surprisingly, much of the aggressiveness Dryden mentioned came from Cashman.
“He had them looking,” Mikita said, “because with Cashman playing the way he was, a lot of our other guys simply picked it up from there.
“There was this one time when Bobby Clarke went after a puck in the corner. A little guy, see? There’s this big Soviet defenceman who has eight strides on Bobby and he stops and looks. When somebody as big as that stops to look for Bobby, it means they’re thinking. They’re looking.”
Added coach Sinden: “Using six defencemen was important to us. We were able to divide the work among them and they had a little more help than they had on Saturday. We always strive for the perfect game, so I guess we can play better. I think they knew we weren’t the same team they had run into in the first game. They knew we were playing aggressive hockey and I think some of them were looking at it and maybe doing a little thinking. Tonight, we were mentally up … a little more composed.
“The important thing is that we won. We haven’t won the series. They’ve won one and we’ve won one. We even won with a bunch of individuals,” Sinden noted, an obvious reference to the praise heaped on the Soviets’ “team” victory in Game 1.
CANADA 4, USSR 1
Sept. 4, 1972
Canadian roster: Bergman, Stapleton, Park, Ellis, P. Esposito, Goldsworthy, Cournoyer, Cashman, White, Henderson, P. Mahovlich, Mikita, Parise, Savard, Lapointe, F. Mahovlich, Clarke, T. Esposito (goalie).
USSR roster: Gusev, Lutchenko, Kuzkin, Ragulin, Tsygankov, Starshinov, Maltsev, Zimin, Mishakov, Mikhailov, Yakushev, Petrov, Kharlamov, Shadrin, Anisin, Liapkin, Paladiev, Tretiak (goalie).
Penalties: Park (cross-checking), 10:08; Henderson (tripping), 15:19.
1. Canada - P. Esposito (Park,
Penalties: Gusev (tripping), 2:07; Soviet Bench Minor (served by Zimin), 4:13; Bergman (tripping), 15:16; Liapkin (slashing), 19:54; Kharlamov (10-minute misconduct), 19:54.
2. Canada - Cournoyer (Park) (PPG, GWG) 1:19.
3. USSR - Yakushev (Liapkin, Zimin) (PPG) 5:53.
4. Canada - P. Mahovlich (P. Esposito) (SHG) 6:47.
5. Canada - F. Mahovlich (Mikita, Cournoyer) 8:59.
Penalties: Clarke (slashing), 5:15; Stapleton (hooking), 6:14.
Shots on goal:
* Share your summit series memories: Red Fisher’s feature series on the 40th anniversary of the Summit Series will continue through September. We will also be publishing some of our readers’ memories of the series. Email yours to sports editor Stu Cowan at email@example.com. To read previous instalments of Red Fisher’s series, go to montrealgazette.com/summit series.
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