Flying in from the other end of the ice, Rangers goaltender Eddie Giacomin needed a dance partner.
Bernie Parent was already throwing bombs in the corner, and Giacomin leveled him into the boards and started pounding. Parent was 25 when he arrived in Toronto halfway through that 1970-71 season, having completed an unspectacular first stint with the Flyers.
At that point, he was Bernie before "Only the Lord Saves More Than" Bernie Parent.
Once the blows were traded and the knuckles bruised, Parent tried to gather his equipment to finish off just his third career playoff win. Except there was only one problem: He couldn't find his mask.
Halfway through the fracas, Rangers captain Vic Hadfield threw Parent's coveted mask into the frenzied Garden crowd. Parent pleaded for its return. New York City police officers scanned the crowd, searching the seats for any sign of the custom-molded mask.
Parent had no backup mask, it was a one-of-a-kind. In 1971, goaltenders were just beginning to understand a pseudo-helmet's value.
Maple Leafs coach John McLellan begged Parent to finish the game.
"I said, 'What are you, crazy?' " Parent recalled on Monday. "I'm not going back in there without my mask."
Instead, McLellan had to summon 42-year-old legend Jacques Plante - coincidentally, the first goaltender in NHL history to wear a mask - from the bench to finish off the Rangers.
New York won the series. Toronto has not won the Cup since 1967. And Parent went on to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame after delivering two shimmering Stanley Cups after returning to Philadelphia.
But the mask was never heard from again, never popped up anywhere, until it hit a memorabilia auction site in 2006. The mask resold last week, after a private collector in Canada contacted Parent and his agent, Dean Smith, out of the blue, looking for him to authenticate the mask from that wild, crazy playoff series.
Though the private collector would not say exactly how much he paid for that piece of hockey history, he said masks from that era were going from anywhere between $20,000 to $30,000 today.
Parent will hand-deliver the mask to Dave, the new owner who wishes to remain anonymous, in a few weeks after a memorabilia show in the Toronto area. Dave said he will donate the mask to the Hockey Hall of Fame when he dies, since the Hall of Fame does not accept items on loan anymore.
"I was always interested in the mask era," said Dave, the private collector. "I was surfing the net and stumbled upon it. I wasn't at the game, but I was 7 or 8 years old at the time. I remembered the game. I just wanted to ask if the original buyer was interested in selling. I thought it was a cool story, a cool piece of history."
Parent, now 67, originally thought he'd have no chance of remembering a 41-year-old former piece of equipment. He switched to a different style with the Flyers. But when he took this mask out of the box, any doubt vanished. He immediately recognized two customs pieces of adhesive padding he inserted himself.
To make sure, Parent put the mask on his face. The custom mold still fit perfectly to his eye sockets.
"The first thing I wanted to do when I saw the mask was to call Hadfield and say, 'Thanks,' " Parent said. "It was a huge pain to get a new mask, it takes 6 to 8 months to get a new one molded and cured. You always wonder what happened to it. Now, after 41 years, it's here. Life is full of surprises."
Contact Frank Seravalli at email@example.com