Forty years ago, the hockey world was fundamentally changed by the start of an eight-game series between national teams from Canada, loaded with NHL players in their prime, and the Soviet Union -- considered the two best hockey-playing nations in the world at the time -- that played out across the month of September. The series was a must-follow for hockey fans across the globe and after its dramatic conclusion --- a 4-3-1 series win for the Canadians -- there was no question that the NHL would never be the same again. This month, NHL.com looks at the historic Summit Series with a month-long collection of content. Today, NHL.com provides a look back at Game 3 of the series from some of those who helped make the history happen. Stay tuned for additional content throughout September (Game 1 recap, Game 2 recap).
Though the Summit Series matched the best players in the NHL against the Soviet Union, Bobby Hull was a spectator throughout. Hull, who undoubtedly would have made the Canadian team, signed with the brand-new World Hockey Association during the summer and was left off the roster.
Ironically, Game 3 of the series was played in Winnipeg, where Hull would play throughout the WHA's seven seasons. He and the rest of the 9,800 fans who packed Winnipeg Arena on the night of Sept. 6, 1972, had to wonder which Team Canada they would see -- the one that was shelled in Montreal or the one that dominated Game 2 in Toronto.
GAME 3: CANADA 4, SOVIET UNION 4
Team Canada was left frustrated and stalemated in Game 3 of the 1972 Summit Series after the Soviet Union twice overcame two-goal deficits to leave with a 4-4 tie.
First Period: 1, Canada, Parise 1 (White, P. Esposito) 1:54. 2, USSR Petrov 2, 3:16 (sh). 3, Canada, Ratelle 1 (Cournoyer, Bergman), 18:25.
Second Period: 4, Canada P. Esposito 3 (Cashman, Parise), 4:19. 5, USSR, Kharlamov 3 (Tsygankov), 12:56 (sh). 6, Canada, Henderson 2 (Clarke, Ellis) 13:47. 7, USSR, Lebedev 1 (Anisin, Vasiliev), 14:59. 8, USSR, Bodunov 1 (Anisin), 18:28.
Third Period: No scoring.
Shots on goal: Soviet Union 9-8-8-25. Canada 15-17-6--38.
Goalies: Soviet Union, Tretiak 1-1-1 (38 shots on goal, 34 saves). Canada, T. Esposito 1-0-1 (25-21)
So did the Soviets, who tinkered with their lineup. Coach Vsevolod Bobrov's best move was his decision to reunite the trio of Alexander Bodunov, Yuri Lebedev and center Viachaeslav Anisin, who had helped the Soviet junior team dominate the 1971 World University Games in Lake Placid. The "Kid Line," as it was dubbed by the Canadian media, wound up having a major say in the outcome.
If there was one area in Team Canada's game that needed no improvement, it was their starts. J.P. Parise swatted home the rebound of Bill White's shot 1:54 after the opening faceoff and Canada had the lead for the third time in as many games.
But unlike its crisp performance two nights earlier in Toronto, Team Canada began to get sloppy -- and paid the price. Vladimir Petrov intercepted a bad pass by Frank Mahovlich in the Canadian zone and beat Tony Esposito at 3:15 for the Soviets' second shorthanded goal of the series.
Jean Ratelle, back in the lineup but without his New York Rangers linemates Vic Hadfield and Rod Gilbert, put Canada back in front at 18:25 after a give-and-go with Yvan Cournoyer. When Phil Esposito beat Vladislav Tretiak from point-blank range 4:19 into the second period, Canada led 3-1, was dominating the game physically (too physically in the eyes of many of the Soviets), and appeared to be in control.
Valeri Kharlamov made it 3-2 with another shorthanded goal at 12:56, but Paul Henderson restored Canada's two-goal lead less than a minute later.
That's when the Soviets' Kid Line took over.
Lebedev deflected a point shot by Valeri Vasiliev past Tony Esposito at 14:59. The young players leaped in the air and hugged each other to celebrate -- the first sign of emotion by any of the stoic Soviets during the series. Bodunov took a nice centering pass from Anisin and fired a shot over the goalie's right shoulder at 18:28 to tie the game 4-4.
"They put out that young line we hadn't seen before and they dominated us," Team Canada coach Harry Sinden said after the game.
Canada outshot the U.S.S.R. 32-17 through two periods, but the game was all even. It ended that way as the wearying Canadians hung on despite being outshot 8-6 during a scoreless third period. Tony Esposito robbed Alexander Maltsev on a breakaway in the final 15 seconds to preserve the tie -- one that was widely considered a loss for the home team.
"We felt we should have won," Paul Henderson told NHL.com. "We had a couple of breakdowns in the [second] period. They jumped on them and we might have gotten a little complacent."
Henderson's linemate Bob Clarke felt Team Canada's lack of conditioning might have taken a toll.
"In Toronto, the emotions were so high and they carried us," he told NHL.com. "In Winnipeg, the emotions were just as high, but we weren't in condition to play at that level. It caught up to us."
After the game, Sinden took a lot of heat from the press for his team's failure to dominate the series. But rather than criticize his players, Sinden paid tribute to the Soviets, who had surprised almost everyone with their showing in the first three games.
"Do the Soviets compare with the NHL's best?" someone asked.
"As good as the Boston Bruins?"
"Yes sir," Sinden said, comparing the Soviets to the franchise he had coached to the 1970 Stanley Cup. "As good as the Boston Bruins."
After a pause, he added, "After all, whoever told us that we in Canada know all about hockey, except ourselves."