Game One: We Lost!
It was supposed to be a cake walk for Canada. The Soviet amateurs would be crushed by Canada's top professionals. Oh, we'll show them just how good Canadian hockey really is. Sure, they could beat our amateur teams that were made up of mill workers and car salesmen, but this was going to be different.
Everything was going according to the script when Canada scored on the first scoring chance of the game just 30 seconds into the action. Phil Esposito, who seconds earlier enthusiastically won the ceremonial faceoff, potted a Frank Mahovlich rebound past a flopping Russian goalie named Vladislav Tretiak.

By the 6:32 mark Canada upped the score to 2-0 when Paul Henderson wired a hard, but seemingly harmless shot to Tretiak's far side. Tretiak looked awkward as he feebly attempted to knock down the puck.

The predicted rout was on. The party was on.

"When I got on the ice," remembered Rod Gilbert in Scott Morrison's excellent book The Days Canada Stood Still, "it was already 2-0. Before I played my first shift it was 2-0, so I'm sitting on the bench saying, 'Let me on. Let me score my goals.' I figured it was going to be 15, 17-0, and I wanted to score a few goals."

Gilbert's thoughts at that point were the common thoughts of almost every Canadian watching the game, and certainly of all the players playing in it. It was a feeling that Canadians not only shared during those opening minutes, but during the entire training camp and since the day the tournament was announced. For that matter, Canadians felt that confident about their hockey dominance ever since the Soviets arrived on the international hockey scene in the 1950s.

Those thoughts were abolished forever before the night was over.

The Soviets settled their nerves after falling behind early. They began to play their game of wonderful passing and skating. The overconfident Canadians eased up, and, as the initial awestruck feeling eased away, the Soviet players took full advantage.

Evgeny Zimin, a miniature speed demon, took a pass from gigantic Alexander Yakushev and bulged the twine behind Ken Dryden at 11:40. Before the period was over the Soviets scored a back-breaking goal while killing a Canadian power play. The great Vladimir Petrov scored as he easily tapped a Boris Mikhailov rebound past a hapless Dryden.

The score was tied at 2. The Soviets went on to simply dominate the second half of the period. They mesmerized the unsuspecting Canucks with their precision playmaking, effortless skating, and intricate and inventive offense.

"I remember walking into the dressing room after the first period and talking to Yvon Cournoyer," Marcel Dionne said in The Days Canada Stood Still. "He just looked at me and said, 'You can't believe their strength and conditioning.'"

1972 Summit Series.com: Game One Box Score
 Sept. 2, 1972 -  USSR 7 - Canada 3

First Period
1-Canada
P. Esposito (F. Mahovlich, Bergman) :30
2-Canada Henderson (Clarke) 6:32

3-USSR Zimin (Yakushev, Shadrin) 11:40
4-USSR Petrov (Mikhailov) 17.28(SH)

Penalties:
Henderson (tripping) 1:03, Yakushev (tripping) 7:04, Mikhailov (tripping), 15:11, Ragulin (tripping) 17:19

Second Period
 
5-USSR
Kharlamov (Maltsev) 2:40
6-USSR Kharlamov (Maltsev) 10:18

Penalties: Clarke (slashing) 5:16, Lapointe (slashing) 12:53

Third Period
 
7- CANADA Clarke (Ellis, Henderson) 8:22
8-USSR Mikhailov (Blinov) 13:32
9-USSR Zimin 14:29
10-USSR Yakushev (Shadrin) 18:37

Penalties: Kharlamov (high sticking) 14:45,
Lapointe (cross checking) 19:41

Shots on Goal:
Soviets   10  10  10  - 30
Canada  10  10  12  - 32

Goalies: 
Tretiak (29/32) 60 minutes played, 3 goals 
Dryden (23/30) 60 minutes played, 7 goals

Game MVPs:
 
USSR - Kharlamov
Canada - Clarke

Attendance
18,818 (Montreal, Quebec)

Players on ice:
Canada:
Bergman, Park, Ellis, P. Esposito, Gilbert, Hadfield, Cournoyer, Berenson, Seiling, Ratelle, Henderson, P. Mahovlich, Redmond, Lapointe, Awrey, F. Mahovlich, Clarke

Soviet Union: Gusev, Lutchenko, Kuzkin, Ragulin, Vasiliev, Tsygankov, Blinov, Maltsev, Zimin, Mishakov, Mikhailov, Yakushev, Petrov, Kharlamov, Vikulov, Shadrin, Liapkin, Paladiev

Photo Feature

Valery Kharlamov made an everlasting impression on Canadian hockey fans with his explosive speed and awesome goal scoring theatrics in game one.
1972 Summit Series Games

Game One

Game Two
Game Three
Game Four
Game Five
Game Six
Game Seven
Game Eight

Buy the DVD!
Canada's Team of the Century
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The Soviets continued to impress their opponents and the increasingly quiet Montreal Forum faithful in the second period. Specifically the electrifying Valeri Kharlamov impressed the most. Considered by many to be the greatest Soviet player of all time, Kharlamov scored twice in the middle frame. His explosive speed and scoring ability made him a household name in Canada after that fine period of play.

The rout was still on, but definitely not as predicted.

The Canadians had a brief moment of hope in the third period when Bobby Clarke, who was named Canada's best player in this historic game, scored to make it 4-3. The Canadians came out and played their best hockey in the opening 10 minutes of that third period, creating several scoring chances only to be foiled by the amazing Tretiak. The scouting reports were wrong about Tretiak -- not only could he stop the puck, but time would prove he was one of the all-time greats.

The Soviets were able to withstand the Canadian onslaught by playing a patient defensive game. They waited for good opportunities to counter attack against the tiring Canadians, and when they did arrive, they capitalized. Mikhailov and Zimin scored 57 seconds apart to put the game out of reach by the 14:29 mark. Yakushev added one final blow late in the period.

Everyone was surprised by how good the Soviets were -- including the Soviets themselves. They came to Canada largely believing all the hype about how Canada's professionals would easily defeat the "amateurs" from Russia

The Russians used their advantages to their fullest extent. They were a team in the truest sense of the word. They had been playing and practicing together for months, not weeks like the Canadian players, and it showed. They were also incredibly better conditioned -- they trained year round, while the Canadians enjoyed their summers of beer and golf and relied on training camp to get back into playing shape.

 

CBC Radio's Archived Coverage Of Game One With Harry Sinden Interview - CBC Radio (4:32)