This Week in Canadiens History: April 4th – April 11th

MONTREAL, QC - 1971: Jean Beliveau #4 Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Melchior DiGiacomo/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - 1971: Jean Beliveau #4 Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Melchior DiGiacomo/Getty Images) /
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April 8th

A Comeback to Remember

On this day, the year of our Lord 1971, things were looking pretty bleak for the Montreal Canadiens. The third seeded Canadiens were riding into the playoffs on the hot hand of rookie netminder Ken Dryden, who had played just 6 regular season NHL games at this point.

And they were playing a powerhouse Bruins team led by record-breaking performances from Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr. Jean Beliveau, the Canadiens leading scorer that year with 76 points scored as many points as Esposito had goals and assists (76 of each). And the Bruins had just closed out the season with a 7-2 win over the Canadiens.

And that trend continued as the Bruins beat the Habs in the first game of the series 3-1, and all hope seemed lost halfway through the second period of Game 2. Yvan Cournoyer had scored the first goal, but Boston responded with 5 in a row, including a goal and 3 assists from Bobby Orr, and the game seemed out of reach.

Henri Richard scored with just under 5 minutes left in the second, but a 5-2 lead still seemed insurmountable. But Jean Beliveau scored two goals in under 2 minutes to bring the Habs within 1 less than 5 minutes into the third period.

Exactly halfway through the third Jacques Lemaire brought the Canadiens even, and John Ferguson put them in the lead for good. Frank Mahovlich put the bow on an incredible comeback for the Canadiens, and would prove to be a turning point in the series.

The Canadiens won the back-and-forth series in seven games, and would go on to beat the Minnesota North Stars and Chicago Blackhawks with rookie goalie Ken Dryden and rookie head coach Al MacNeil leading the way to the Stanley Cup.