Game 294 – Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 1

Game 294
Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 1
Thursday, January 3, 1952
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

Revealing smarter and faster legs, the Montréal Canadiens kicked the Toronto Maple Leafs into third position tonight on a 3-1 decision that broke an NHL second place deadlock between the two bitter rivals.

The only time the Leafs threatened to overtake the upsurging Flying Frenchmen was in the third period, and the winners had enough drive left for the final goal after the losers had cut the margin to 2-1.

It was the fifth loss on the road for the Leafs in their last six games. They were clearly outplayed by the rebuilding Habitants, infused with youths who have found their NHL stride in the last couple of weeks. For the Canadiens, it was their fifth consecutive win, and gave them 19 points out of a possible 24 in their last dozen games.

Two rookies and a veteran – Paul Meger, “Boom Boom” Geoffrion and Floyd Curry – were the goal-getters for the Habs, while Harry Watson potted the only Leaf tally near the 13 minute mark of the final period. It was a long shot of the desperation kind, after Watson had looked in vain for someone to take a pass. The puck struck the inside of the post and ricocheted into the cage.

That shot robbed of a shutout a game little guy, Gerry McNeil, who had returned only a couple of hours before the game from the funeral of his mother in Québec City. While he wasn’t too busy at times, he nevertheless came up with a few great saves after insisting that he play.

Leaf deterioration began to set in when they failed to score during a Canadien penalty midway through the opening period. They were all around the little goalie, but lost chances by attempting fancy passing instead of straight blasting.

With the sides even, the Habs took over for two quick goals in the closing minutes of the first, mainly because they were just too slick and speedy for the Leafs.

On the first goal, the flying Meger took a pass from Geoffrion to beat goalie Al Rollins from close in. Rollins made a partial stop, but the puck dribbled through. Only 36 seconds of the period remained when a side shot by newcomer Dollard Saint-Laurent struck defenceman Gus Mortson on the skate and rebounded to Curry. He grabbed the puck and made a nice play on Rollins to shove it in.

The Habs retained a slight margin in the second, the Leaf defence having an off night and the forwards being outchecked.

With the largest Forum crowd of the season looking on – 14,492 – and howling mightily, the only sign of any real trouble came late in the second. That was when Elmer Lach and Cal Gardner began shoving at each other with sticks, and Fern Flaman and Butch Bouchard joined in. Players milled about, and it ended in minors to Bouchard and Flaman for roughing,

After Watson’s goal, the Habs let little more than a minute go by before Geoffrion sank a 30-footer on a play in which Timgren was slow in coming back after being cut across the mouth by Doug Harvey. Seconds before, McNeil had grabbed a Max Bentley backhander that would have tied the score.

NOTES: Shortly after arrival here today, coach Joe Primeau and three Leafs were carted off to prison. Primeau, Howie Meeker, Tod Sloan and Jim Thomson were guests, to be exact, of the warden of St. Vincent de Paul Penitentiary and, on his invitation, officially opened the pen’s six team hockey league. They also inspected the prison and talked with many of the prisoners, most of them avid hockey fans…Rudy Migay took over for Gardner as centre on a line with Watson and Howie Meeker, and didn’t look amiss. He backchecked as well, if not better, than any Leaf, and managed a couple of dangerous shots on goal…Meeker left the game in the third period with a strained side, but it is not expected to keep him out of Saturday’s game against Chicago.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, January 4, 1952

1st Period
TOR PEN – 04:52 – Timgren, interference
MTL PEN – 08:04 – Moore, hooking
MTL GOAL – 17:26 – Meger (Geoffrion)
MTL GOAL – 19:24 – Curry (Moore, Saint-Laurent)

2nd Period
MTL PEN – 11:11 – Geoffrion, slashing
TOR PEN – 11:11 – Bentley, slashing
MTL PEN – 17:37 – Bouchard, roughing
TOR PEN – 17:37 – Flaman, roughing

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 03:56 – Saint-Laurent, hooking
TOR GOAL – 12:18 – Watson
MTL GOAL – 13:32 – Geoffrion (Saint-Laurent, Reay)

MTL – McNeil (W, 14-15)
TOR – Rollins (L, 15-18)

MTL – 5+3+10 = 18
TOR – 5+5+5 = 15

MTLGoaltenders: Gerry McNeil. Defence: Butch Bouchard (C), Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Dollard Saint-Laurent. Forwards: Floyd Curry, Dick Gamble, Bernie Geoffrion, Elmer Lach, John McCormack, Paul Meger, Dickie Moore, Bert Olmstead, Billy Reay, Maurice Richard.
TORGoaltenders: Al Rollins. Defence: Fern Flaman, Bill Juzda, Gus Mortson, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: Max Bentley, Cal Gardner, Ted Kennedy (C), Danny Lewicki, Fleming MacKell, Howie Meeker, Rudy Migay, Tod Sloan, Sid Smith, Ray Timgren, Harry Watson.

MTL – 18-15-4 (.541)
TOR – 15-13-8 (.528)