Game 315 – Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 1

Game 315
Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 1
Thursday, March 19, 1953
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

Tremendous Ted Kennedy battled into the NHL’s select 200 goal circle tonight, and the Maple Leafs fought closer to a possible playoff berth on a clever 4-1 triumph over the Montréal Canadiens.

Continuing an amazing comeback that began with a furious 4-3 win over Chicago in Toronto last night, the Leafs jumped to only two points back of the idle Black Hawks, who cling to the fourth and last playdown rung. Kennedy, in scoring one goal and setting up another on which he gained no assist, was a mighty factor.

Now, if the Leafs should win their final two games – against New York Saturday and Boston Sunday – the Hawks would have to take three of four possible points in their final two games to eliminate Joe Primeau’s fighting fools. It could go right down to the wire Sunday night.

The Leafs, well on top of the play over the first 40 minutes, ran up a 3-0 lead on goals by Sid Smith, young Eric Nesterenko and Kennedy. For Kennedy, it was his first since rejoining the Leafs four games ago from a shoulder separation suffered January 1. For Smith, once again the old marksman since his centre, “Teeder,” returned to action, it was his third goal in two nights.

The Leafs, cooled out by a 25 minute intermission for a presentation ceremony between the second and third periods, slipped somewhat, and the Habs came on before a roaring crowd of 14,333 in the Montréal Forum. “Rocket” Richard spoiled Harry Lumley’s shutout with his 28th goal of the season on a backhander with less than 13 minutes of the game remaining. But Harry Watson got that back six minutes later, taking a neat pass from Bobby Hassard before “busting” in on goalie Gerry McNeil.

Smith opened the goal getting within four minutes from the game’s faceoff when he fired a 35-footer after Kennedy battled for the puck and got it over to him. Kennedy well earned the award as the game’s top star.

With the Leafs keeping atop the Habitants and smothering their plays, they went ahead 2-0 nearing seven minutes of the middle period. Hassard shot from directly in front of the cage, and Nesterenko was Johnny-on-the-spot to bang in the short rebound.

Just after 15 minutes of the same period, Kennedy overcame the 13 goal jinx that was dogging him when he was injured. He backhanded in number 14 from a few feet out after a scramble in which both he and linemate Ron Stewart had previous chances that were stopped by McNeil.

That 200th for the 27 year old Kennedy, who is living up to that cognomen “Heart of the Leafs,” came in his 10th NHL season.

Victory also left the Leafs with a chance, albeit slim, to finish third, a provision the NHL didn’t make in announcing playoff dates earlier today. The Leafs could wind up tied on points and wins with the Boston Bruins, and that would be settled in favour of the club having scored the most goals this season.

NOTES: Right winger George Armstrong didn’t make the trip here with the Leafs. He got as far as Leaside last night, then was told to remain in Toronto. Reason – he couldn’t manage a stick, despite a special cast over a broken bone in his left hand, suffered last Saturday night. Then last night, he picked up an eight stitch gash in the left ankle…Although tonight’s game wasn’t a rough one, the Leafs were masters most of the way, and Lumley received great protection through the persistent back checking, as well as through defenceman Fern Flaman, a second goalie…It was Tim Horton, the rookie rearguard, who is rushing in fine style of late, who set up Toronto’s initial goal. He rushed down the ice, then dumped the puck into a corner, from whence it came out in front of the cage…Previously, the Leafs had won only two games here this season, as against four Montréal triumphs.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, March 20, 1953

1st Period
TOR GOAL – 03:57 – Smith
TOR PEN – 12:32 – Thomson, tripping

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 06:35 – Nesterenko (Hassard, Hannigan)
MTL PEN – 06:38 – Lach, inteference
TOR GOAL – 15:12 – Kennedy (Stewart)

3rd Period
MTL GOAL – 07:14 – Richard (Lach, Olmstead)
TOR GOAL – 13:50 – Watson (Hassard, Boivin)
TOR PEN – 14:41 – Thomson, interference
MTL PEN – 18:20 – Mosdell, cross checking

TOR – Lumley (W, 17-18)
MTL – McNeil (L, 19-23)

TOR – 7+9+7 = 23
MTL – 8+3+7 = 18

TORGoaltenders: Harry Lumley. Defence: Leo Boivin, Fern Flaman, Tim Horton, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: Max Bentley, Gord Hannigan, Bob Hassard, Ted Kennedy (C), Howie Meeker, Rudy Migay, Eric Nesterenko, 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, Bernie Geoffrion, Elmer Lach, Paul Masnick, John McCormack, Paul Meger, Dickie Moore, Kenny Mosdell, Bert Olmstead, Billy Reay, Maurice Richard.

TOR – 25-30-13 (.463)
MTL – 28-22-18 (.544)