Game 311 – Canadiens 2, Maple Leafs 0

Game 311
Canadiens 2, Maple Leafs 0
Thursday, February 5, 1953
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

Roaming “Rocket” Richard, not the superstar of other NHL seasons but still a tremendous cog in the Montréal Canadiens’ machine, smashed a goalless draw in the last period tonight, and the Habitants raced on to a 2-0 decision over the Maple Leafs.

Gerry McNeil earned his ninth shutout, the best perfect game mark in the league, and his performance on a few occasions when he was called on to make saves lent credence to Irvin’s claim that he is the top netman in hockey today. Harry Lumley runs second in shutouts with seven.

“The Rocket,” on one of those spine-tingling plays of his, sent a rabid crowd of 14,548 to screaming, by taking a perfect pass from hard checking Bert Olmstead, and moving right in on Harry Lumley for a light blinking backhander with 14 minutes of the game remaining. Then, with Jim Thomson serving a tripping minor at the halfway mark of that final period, big Dollard Saint-Laurent’s second goal of the season cemented the Habs’ rise to within one point of the top running Detroit Red Wings.

Saint-Laurent counted from a scramble when he found a hole through a maze of players on a 30-footer. Elmer Lach, who played a strong game, set him up with a back pass after rounding rookie Leo Boivin.

That’s the way Saint-Laurent’s goal appeared from the new press box, situated at the opposite end of the scoring scene of both goals, and high up near the rafters. A forest of lights and light cords hanging from the roof loft make visibility difficult at the other end much in the manner of a blurred TV screen.

The last period had the most action. There were some thrills over the first two periods, but they were about as scarce as Toronto fans among the crowd in the ancient Forum. The checking was so close it made for dullness at times, and the defences were scaring everyone with lusty body checking. It wasn’t the pattern at all that has marked some tough battles of the past between the two clubs.

Both goalies supplied some top netminding over the opening 40 minutes, and they shared two of the game’s best saves just seconds apart, after the final period opened. That was when Lumley made a diving save on what appeared to be a certain goal on a backhander by Richard. Then, a couple of plays later, young Eric Nesterenko of the Leafs sped past defenceman Butch Bouchard as if big Butch was anchored, and roared in on McNeil. McNeil too sprawled into a save that was grand larceny.

The Habitants appeared to have a find in Eddie Litzenberger, up on a three game trial from the Montréal Royals of the Québec Senior League, as replacement for right winger “Boom Boom” Geoffrion. Geoffrion was injured in practise yesterday and, said coach Dick Irvin, examination today revealed a slight shoulder separation that will keep him out three weeks or more.

Litzenberger, a 20 year old who has a physical resemblance of Nesterenko on the ice, showed a neat shift and a dangerous slap shot while working on a line with Paul Meger and Paul Masnick. He set up a couple of neat plays, too, that forced Lumley to a couple of tough stops and, when he found that the Leafs weren’t tossing their weight around, he began handing out a few bodychecks himself, just to liven things up.

Litzenberger also sent “Hopalong” Hannigan hopping off the ice with a sore knee with less than five minutes of the game remaining. He took a tripping minor, but Hannigan, although used later, probably will have a sore knee tomorrow.

NOTES: Danny Lewicki, up from Pittsburgh for his second successive game as a Leaf this season, centred Ron Stewart and Sid Smith, and was spelled off by Tod Sloan…There were only five minor penalties called – three to the Habs…Tom Johnson was outstanding on defence for the Habs, while Fern Flaman was a second goalie for the Leafs…The Leafs lost a real scoring chance in the closing minutes when, with McNeil down, Ron Stewart shot into his pads. The puck just wouldn’t lift off the ice.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, February 6, 1953

1st Period
TOR PEN – 06:58 – Horton, interference
MTL PEN – 19:03 – Saint-Laurent, tripping

2nd Period

3rd Period
MTL GOAL – 06:08 – Richard (Olmstead, Lach)
TOR PEN – 09:32 – Thomson, tripping
MTL PP GOAL – 10:17 – Saint-Laurent (Lach, Richard)
MTL PEN – 15:33 – Litzenberger, tripping
MTL PEN – 19:42 – MacPherson, boarding

MTL – McNeil (W + SO, 22-22)
TOR – Lumley (L, 21-23)

MTL – 6+8+9 = 23
TOR – 6+8+8 = 22

MTLGoaltenders: Gerry McNeil. Defence: Butch Bouchard (C), Tom Johnson, Bud MacPherson, Dollard Saint-Laurent. Forwards: Floyd Curry, Dick Gamble, Elmer Lach, Ed Litzenberger, 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, Gord Hannigan, Bob Hassard, Danny Lewicki, Phil Maloney, Eric Nesterenko, Tod Sloan, Sid Smith, Ron Stewart, Harry Watson.

MTL – 22-14-15 (.578)
TOR – 20-21-10 (.490)