Game 302 – Maple Leafs 7, Canadiens 5

Game 302
Maple Leafs 7, Canadiens 5
Wednesday, October 29, 1952
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Maurice Richard rocketed into a share of sports immortality last night ere those comeback Maple Leafs roared to a 7-5 triumph over the Montréal Canadiens.

It was a masterpiece of thrilling, hard hockey, and the largest crowd of the NHL season here – 14,069 – made like crazy most of the way.

A wonderful sight to see, Maurice the Magnificent painted two picture goals in the opening period for a total of 324 in a pro career that’s in its 11th NHL season.

That tied the record of Nels “Ol’ Poison” Stewart, who blazed his meteoric trail over 15 seasons when the schedules were shorter. Up to the end of the opening period, with the Canadiens leading 3-1, there wasn’t any reason to believe that “The Rocket” couldn’t go on to eclipse a mark that has stood for 13 years.

While Richard was finding the antidote for Ol’ Poison, Stewart wasn’t around to witness the feat that brought more cheers here for “The Rocket” than ever before. Nels had been to the races at Dufferin in the afternoon, but business commitments forced him to return to the Niagara district he covers for a Toronto brewery. Now, the way is paved for “The Rocket” to revel in the adulation of a Montréal Forum gathering by smashing the record against the New York Rangers there Saturday.

Said the 31 year old “Rocket,” who isn’t as dour as he used to be, after the game: “I’ve nothing to say about the record. The goals have to come sometime, but it’s the game that counts.” Up to last night, he had a mere three goals in eight games this season.

The Leafs, in piling up their highest score of the baby semester, showed two different teams. The one that couldn’t get untracked in the opening 20 minutes, and the fighting outfit that came from behind a two goal deficit. It was the fifth time the Leafs had blazed from behind in eight games, and those feats represented all their four victories and one tie.

It was that fighting little bit of Irish iron, Gordie Hannigan, who completed a neat passing play with the one and only Max Bentley for Toronto’s opening score, just after the 15 minute mark of the opening period.

Behind 3-1 early in the second, the Leafs simply overpowered the Habitants on zip and try for three goals without a reply. That gave them a lead they never lost, and it was significant of the thorough way they took over that they had 11 shots on goalie Gerry McNeil, while the Habs could produce only three on Harry Lumley.

Husky Harry Watson produced two of those goals, with the tying tally, on a brilliant one-man piece of artistry by Bentley, sandwiched in between. It was 4-3 moving into the third period, and the outburst was terrific when George Armstrong, playing a great game in his seasonal debut following a shoulder separation, scored on a partially screened sizzler. He also scored in his first game as a Leaf last season.

It was see-saw from there, with each team scoring twice, but there wasn’t much doubt that the Leafs held the upper hand. Defenceman Dollard Saint-Laurent made it 5-4 after nearly 14 minutes, before Sid Smith caught up with a long pass from Ron Stewart that bounded off the boards and, as if he was playing shuffleboard, he pushed it into the net it was heading for.

Olmstead, who had scored in the opening period, then received credit for a goal at 19:18, on which the puck bounced off the backboards and went in off Lumley. With the Habs having a chance to tie it and their goalie out in favour of an extra attacker, Kennedy, the great fighter, broke away on a pass from Jim Thomson and fired into the empty net, just 30 seconds before the end. It was the first such goal scored by Kennedy in 10 seasons as a pro.

While McNeil couldn’t be blamed for any of the goals, he wasn’t helped a bit by the fact he was struck on the face by a Ron Stewart shot while lying in the goalmouth after making a save after only eight minutes of play. The game was delayed more than 10 minutes while he went off for three stitches to close a cut under his right eye. The eye nearly was closed on end.

It was while rugged and willing Leo Boivin, the rearguard rookie who was a Leaf standout, was serving a minor penalty that the Flying Frenchmen popped in their first two goals, just 62 seconds apart in the opening period.

Olmstead shot the opener on the first of two assists by Richard, and the first of four by evergreen Elmer Lach. Then Lach and “The Rocket” broke through and, with no one in front of them but Lumley, Lach fed “Rocket” the puck at the last moment, and Lum had no chance on the short drive.

Olmstead, who high sticked Thomson, and the same Thomson who retaliated with his fists, were sweating out major sentences when Richard tied the record. It was a beautiful play, with Lach “busting” down left wing. He held the puck until “Rocket” got rid of his check and swung in front of the goal. Then, over came a rolling puck and Richard, a left hand shot playing right wing, swept in before Lumley could say “gadzooks.”

NOTES: Richard received the puck as a souvenir…Although it wasn’t announced on the loudspeaking system that Stewart’s mark had been reached, there wasn’t any doubt the thunder-voiced crowd knew…Tod Sloan, playing despite the fact he had three teeth removed a few hours before, showed signs of getting untracked. He set up Watson’s second goal after fighting for possession to notch his first point this term…It was the initial meeting of the two teams this term, with the Habs coming here fresh from a 9-0 smashing of the Detroit Red Wings last Saturday.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, October 30, 1952

1st Period
MTL PEN – 00:12 – Lach, holding
TOR PEN – 04:47 – Armstrong, interference
MTL PEN – 07:44 – Saint-Laurent, interference
TOR PEN – 10:55 – Boivin, high sticking
MTL PP GOAL – 11:01 – Olmstead (Richard, Lach)
MTL PP GOAL – 12:03 – Richard (Lach, Olmstead)

MTL PEN – 12:26 – Olmstead, fighting major
TOR PEN – 12:26 – Thomson, fighting major
MTL PEN – 14:03 – Harvey, hooking
TOR PP GOAL – 15:43 – Hannigan (Bentley, Horton)
MTL GOAL – 17:07 – Richard (Lach)

TOR PEN – 17:30 – Horton, interference
MTL PEN – 19:40 – Lach, holding

2nd Period
MTL PEN – 03:30 – Bouchard, holding
TOR PP GOAL – 04:10 – Watson (Thomson)
TOR GOAL – 07:37 – Bentley (Armstrong)
TOR GOAL – 19:16 – Watson (Sloan)

3rd Period
TOR GOAL – 02:27 – Armstrong (Boivin)
MTL GOAL – 13:54 – Saint-Laurent (McCormack)

MTL PEN – 14:34 – Gamble, high sticking
TOR PEN – 14:34 – Armstrong, high sticking
TOR GOAL – 17:19 – Smith (Stewart, Kennedy)
MTL PEN – 17:35 – MacPherson, high sticking
TOR PEN – 17:35 – Hannigan, high sticking
MTL GOAL – 19:18 – Olmstead (Richard, Lach)
TOR EN GOAL – 19:30 – Kennedy (Thomson)
MTL PEN – 19:55 – MacPherson, holding

TOR – Lumley (W, 22-27)
MTL – McNeil (L, 31-37)

TOR – 14+11+13 = 38
MTL – 12+3+12 = 27

TORGoaltenders: Harry Lumley. Defence: Leo Boivin, Hugh Bolton, Tim Horton, Jim Morrison, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: George Armstrong, Max Bentley, Gord Hannigan, Bob Hassard, Ted Kennedy (C), Rudy Migay, Tod Sloan, Sid Smith, Ron Stewart, Harry Watson.
MTLGoaltenders: Gerry McNeil. Defence: Butch Bouchard (C), Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Bud MacPherson, Dollard Saint-Laurent. Forwards: Floyd Curry, Dick Gamble, Bernie Geoffrion, Elmer Lach, John McCormack, Paul Meger, Kenny Mosdell, Bert Olmstead, Billy Reay, Maurice Richard.

TOR – 4-3-1 (.563)
MTL – 4-3-2 (.556)