Game 303 – Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 1

Game 303
Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 1
Thursday, November 6, 1952
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

Hockey’s magnificent “Rocket” Richard did everything but skate on his head tonight in an effort to score, but he couldn’t smash that goal scoring record while the Montréal Canadiens were outskating the Maple Leafs for a 3-1 triumph.

The result broke off a Toronto win skein at four games, and created a three-way tie for the NHL top between the Leaf,s Canadiens and Chicago Black Hawks.

While “The Rocket” had only one clear shot on goal, he was a tremendous thorn in the Leafian side by his persistent, whirling, jet-like dashes in an effort to advance into a never before penetrated scoring stratosphere. He was on the ice more than usual in a drama-packed situation in which he was seeking to break a tie with that hockey great of another day, Nels Stewart.

Richard tied Stewart’s mark of 324 goals eight nights ago in Toronto. Since then, he has been held goalless in three games, and the roars from 14,547 throats in the Forum whenever he even looked at the puck were spine-tingling.

“The Rocket” was flying, right to the end. With his linemates – Elmer Lach and Bert Olmstead – attempting to feed him at every opportunity, his final fling came with just 15 seconds remaining. He picked up a pass from Olmstead while flying in, whirled in front of the Toronto cage, and let go a backhander that just missed the corner. They’ll be talking of that, and some of his other sorties tonight, for a long time.

Actually, his only shot on goalie Harry Lumley came just five minutes after the second period opened. It was a good drive, and Lumley had to be sharp to come up with a save.

An easy goal by burly Doug Harvey, his first of the season, and shots by Bert Olmstead and “Boom Boom” Geoffrion accounted for the local trio of counters. Maxie Bentley was the Leaf marksman. In addition to Richard, there was disappointment too for the ageless Elmer Lach, who was trying for the 200th goal of a mighty NHL career.

The Flying Frenchmen deserved to win. They were backed up by some good netminding by Jacques Plante, the tall kid from the Montréal Royals seniors, who was playing his third game in place of the injured Gerry McNeil, and they kept up the pressure in the Toronto end far more than the Leafs could do in the Habitant area.

Doug Harvey’s freak shot, on which Lumley looked bad, opened the scoring just after the game’s three minute mark. Harvey, who like the giant rabbit of that name may have been invisible to Lum, let go a 65-foot backhander from outside the Leaf blueline. It landed directly in front of the cage and bounced in on the goalie’s short side.

It was the Richard line, but not “The Rocket,” who zipped the Habitants into a 2-0 lead after nearly seven minutes of the second period. Olmstead was the marksman, after taking a pass from “The Rocket.” Olmstead waited for Richard to get into position, but finally had to let go a long, low one, and it went in for his seventh goal of the season – as many as he had all last semester.

67 seconds later, Bentley, maintaining a hot scoring clip, lifted the puck past the capable, fast handed Plante from close in, after grabbing the rebound of battling Gordie Hannigan’s short shot.

In the finale, amid some sustained, thrill packed goalmouth drives – especially by the Lach-Olmstead-Richard unit – Boom Boom Geoffrion shot the Habs’ final counter after he and Dick Gamble roared in on Lumley, with only Jim Morrison back. Geoffrion grabbed Gamble’s neat pass and rifled one in from the side.

Ere the game, general manager Frank Selke said that McNeil, who suffered a fractured cheekbone in Toronto last midweek, was making a miraculous recovery, and probably would be back in the nets by next Thursday night. By coincidence, that’s when the Leafs next play here.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, November 7, 1952

1st Period
TOR PEN – 00:55 – Bentley, hooking
MTL GOAL – 03:20 – Harvey (McCormack)
MTL PEN – 11:39 – Richard, tripping

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 06:51 – Olmstead (Richard)
TOR GOAL – 07:58 – Bentley (Hannigan)

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 00:12 – Horton, hooking
MTL GOAL – 09:35 – Geoffrion (Gamble, Masnick)

MTL – Plante (W, 27-28)
TOR – Lumley (L, 22-25)

MTL – 6+8+11 = 25
TOR – 10+10+8 = 28

MTLGoaltenders: Jacques Plante. Defence: Butch Bouchard (C), Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Dollard Saint-Laurent. Forwards: Floyd Curry, Dick Gamble, Bernie Geoffrion, Elmer Lach, Paul Masnick, John McCormack, Paul Meger, Kenny Mosdell, Bert Olmstead, Billy Reay, Maurice Richard.
TORGoaltenders: Harry Lumley. Defence: Leo Boivin, Fern Flaman, 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.

MTL – 6-3-3 (.625)
TOR – 7-4-1 (.625)