1972 Summit Series 40th Anniversary: Game 4, September 8: USSR 5 Canada 3

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Mikhailov scores his second straight PP goal of the game to make it 2-0.

Venue: Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver, BC. AKA, Boo Bird City.

Attendance: 15,570

Series: 1-1-1

I am writing these posts as I watch the games on DVD.

Game 3 was a huge disappointment for Canada. They outplayed the Russians throughout the game and still blew a 4-2 lead. Those Russians were opportunistic. They were for real. The pressure on the Canadian team from the nation was intensifying. This series was a very big deal. Any thought of the almighty hockey nation Canada wiping the floor with the Soviets was gone. Now nails were being bitten, and this was the final game in Canada before the series shifted to Russia for the final four games.

Canada made sweeping changes to its roster for this one. Ken Dryden in goal in place of Tony Esposito. A strange move because Espo had been playing so well. Forwards and defencemen out were Peter Mahovlich, Stan Mikita, JP Parise, Serge Savard, Wayne Cashman, Jean Ratelle, Guy Lapointe and in were Gilbert Perrault, Vic Hadfield, Dennis Hull, Rod Seiling, Rod Gilbert, Bill Goldsworthy, and Don Awrey. I know they wanted some fresh blood in there, but really, the team played well enough to win in Game 3. Several of those players had not played in the series yet, like Perrault, Hull, Hadfield and Seiling for example. Serge Savard and Guy Lapointe, two awesome d-men, were out due to injury. Aside from that, Canada wanted to give everyone a turn. Vancouver Canucks Dale Tallon and Jocelyn Guevremont had made the squad at camp but still had not played a game in the series. They would not play in Vancouver either.

The Russians made less changes, benching Alexander Gusev, Yevgeny Mishakov, Yuri Shatalov and Vyacheslav Solodukhin in favor of Yuri Blinov, Vladimir Vikulov, Yevgeny Poladiev and Alexander Ragulin.

Of course, Vladislav Tretiak remained in goal.

PERIOD 1

As usual, Foster Hewitt and Brian Conacher call the game. These guys are awesome.

Canadian management and players are presented with Russian matreshka dolls pre-game.

These are the dolls where you pop the head off and a smaller doll comes out and so on and so on. What did the Russians get? Bacon and maple syrup. I kid. They received nothing.

I love the Russian national anthem. It's music to kill by. A real war anthem.

Ok, the puck has been dropped.

The Soviets have a knack for coming out strong at the start of periods. They are doing it again. Go figure, Bill Goldsworthy crosschecks a Russian up high and takes a penalty 1:24 in. That guy is a modern day Brad Marchand, minus the beak. The Russians go to work, blasting a shot from the point that is tipped in by Boris Mikhailov. 1-0 USSR at the 2:01 mark. Assists to Vladimir Lutchenko and Vladimir Petrov.

For a long period of time the Canadians try to get something going in the Russian zone but the Soviets defend well and their transition game is terrific. Not many shots on goal from either team though as most shots are blocked.

At the 5:58 mark who takes an elbowing penalty? Bill Goldsworthy. Why is this guy playing? Over 1:00 in the Soviets break into the Canadian zone, Valery Kharlamov passes the puck to Lutchenko who is moving in from the point. Lutchenko wrists it at the net and the shot is perfectly tipped by Mikhailov over Ken Dryden. 2-0 USSR. Two straight PP goals by Boris Mikhailov. Two facepalms for Goldsworthy.

The pace of the game slows for a while and then speeds up again. Mikhailov almost scores again on a breakaway but misses the net. The Russians continue their stellar defensive play up two goals. Canada must be getting frustrated. They are starting to look unorganized. Scrambling. Except for Phil Esposito. He's really playing his heart out once again. He has had a few chances now but nothing solid that gives Tretiak any trouble.

More awkward Canadian play. I think I just heard the fans jeer.

Tretiak makes a glove save on Bobby Clarke. With ease. And then Dryden makes a big stop on Petrov as he tried to stuff it in from the side of the goal.

Not a lot of hits. Esposito takes a tripping penalty with under a minute left in the period. Looked a bit like a Kharlamov dive on that one. The Soviets buzz the zone on the PP but Dryden makes a stellar stop just before the period ends.

A great period to watch, if you like to see Russian puck wizardry and Canadians with zero gel.

Shots in the 1st: USSR 11, Canada 10. Didn't seem like that many.

PERIOD 2

Canada does a solid job killing off Esposito's penalty. Maybe they can cash in and get on the board soon. But this Russian squad is really shutting them down and giving them no room to make plays.

Woa! The Russians almost make it 3-0 there. Dryden fumbles a weak shot of his glove and the puck goes over him. I think it was Brad Park that swept the puck off the goal line and back into Dryden's pads. Then the Soviets keep attacking. What is wrong with Canada? They are in disarray.

Right after I say that Gilbert Perrault takes the puck at his own goal and skates the whole length of the ice with a huge burst of speed. He looks like he is going around the net but shovels it in front instead. It banks in off a Russian defender's leg and it's now 2-1 USSR! Unassisted at the 5:37 mark. What a play by Perrault. Damn he is fast. Damn, he could have been a Canuck.

The Russians look unfazed. They charge right back into the Canadian zone after the faceoff and Dryden has to make a huge save on Alexander Maltzev.

Then Tretiak makes two huge stops on Leaf Dan Ron Ellis right after that. Finally, some serious action! Another save by Tretiak. Then the Russians break out 2 on 1 out of the blue. Petrov passes it to a streaking Yuri Blinov who snaps it low past Dryden. 3-1 USSR. Blinov from Petrov and Mikhailov (his 3rd point of the night) at the 6:34 mark. Man oh man, those Russians break out fast.

And the Soviets keep attacking. Wait! Yvan Cournoyer is on a breakaway but he is stopped by Tretiak! The Hab gets another short breakaway seconds later as I think the Russians were changing and he is stopped again by Tretiak, who stood his ground. Cournoyer piles into the net after that one. A glove save by Tretiak on an Esposito slapper soon after. Then Viktor Kuzkin takes a tripping penalty.

Dryden makes a routine stop on a shoot in and the Vancouver fans give him a bronx cheer. Nice. Ring a bell? Bunch of dopes. The fans' mood has definitely soured after the 3-1 goal.

A Canadian goal is disallowed as is was ruled that Rod Gilbert kicked the puck in. He did not kick it. Bad break. A dismal power play.

Another bronx cheer for Dryden. Now the fans are booing the team as they look confused again. Classy.

Moments later, the Russians hem the Canadians in their zone for quite some time. Lots of winning work along the boards. Suddenly the puck gets tapped out by Maltsev to the great Kharlamov who passes it across to Vladimir Vikulov who one-times a shot short side on Dryden. 4-1 USSR. Goal at the 13:52 mark.

Right after the goal something strange happens. The Canadians shoot the puck into the Soviet zone where Tretiak comes out of his net to play it. Frank Mahovlich barrels over the goalie and basically lays on top of him for over 10 seconds. No penalty called, but the fans boo Mahovlich for that act of silliness. Canada is clearly frustrated. More booing from the fans after play stops. As Canada falters the Soviets thrive. Now the refs are letting Canada get away with murder. Holding, grabbing, interference.

Jesus, this is like men against boys. Good thing the Russians keep missing the net or this score would be embarrassing.

Oh, a huge save by Dryden on another Soviet 2 on 1. Stacks the pads! The horn sounds to end the period. The players get booed off the ice.

Shots in the 2nd period: USSR 14 Canada 8

PERIOD 3

What could coach Harry Sinden possibly say to these Canadian players between periods? Talk about a one-sided game so far. One thing I have noticed is that Canada is not playing their physical style of game in this one. If anything, they are getting out-muscled, much like what was seen in Game 1 of the series.

Petrov takes a holding penalty at 2:01. That power play was fruitless as well except for a solo effort by Esposito that was stopped by Tretiak.

Ellis breaks in from the side and is stopped by Tretiak. That was probably Canada's best chance of the game. Another huge stop by Tretiak on Bergman. Canada keeps pressing. Moments later, Esposito rips a shot off the crossbar and Goldsworthy smacks in the rebound to make it 4-2 USSR. Goldsworthy from Esposito and Bergman at 6:54.

Canada is finally back on track, but they are missing chances. Mahovlich muscles his way around a Russian defender and lets off a wrister but is stoned by Tretiak.

After the teams switch ends at the 10:00 mark the Russians start attacking again. At the 11:05 mark, the puck is passed out front to Vladimir Shadrin who has no one on him. He lets of a wrister that is stopped by Dryden but the rebound ends up on his stick again, so he backhands it past the fallen Canadian netminder. 5-2 USSR. Assists by Yakushev and Vasiliev.

The crowd is now even more quiet than it has been all game. A mouse farted and I could hear it.

The Soviets put on some more pressure in Canada's zone, Canada clears it, and a bronx cheer ensues. Goldsworthy misses a check and gets booed.

With less than a minute left (19:38) Esposito skates the puck up the ice and passes it to a speeding Dennis Hull who goes in alone on Tretiak and roofs it. 5-3 USSR.

The fat lady sings. This one is over. What a game by the Russians.

Shots in the 3rd: Canada 23 USSR 6. (Huh?)

Overall: Canada 41 USSR 31.

MVP's: Canada: Phil Esposito, USSR: Boris Mikhailov.

Ok, so you read a lot about the Vancouver fans booing. Maybe it angers you that i said what I said but let me tell you, it WAS A BIG DEAL. It was unacceptable. The Canadian players in the dressing room couldn't believe it. Paul Henderson wrote in his book "Shooting For Glory":

In the dressing room between the 2nd and 3rd periods Phil Esposito and I talked about the situation. We dressed next to each other, and I turned and asked Phil: "Why are these people booing us? Can't they see we are trying? Our own people are turning on us."

"It's not right," Phil agreed. "What do these people want from us? We're playing for Canada. Don't they realize that?"

As the team captain, Esposito took the issue to the media and what follows is his famous rant:

It was a speech that rallied our nation and the team. The Russians were playing superb hockey. Game 4 was their best effort yet. Our egos had been shattered through 4 games. Maybe we weren't the best at hockey. How could we live with that?

-Game 4 recap and much more at 1972SummitSeries.com.

-Game 4 Highlights:

The teams would now head to the USSR to play games 5-8. Game 5 is 14 days away. The Canadians are heading to Sweden to play some exhibition games there. The Russians can head home with their heads held high because they went into Canada and kicked some butt, now leading the series 2-1-1.

Next game: September 22.

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