Game 320 – Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 1

Game 320
Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 1
Thursday, December 3, 1953
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

Tagged by coach Dick Irvin as “a nothing team” ripped apart by injuries, the Montréal Canadiens humiliated the crippled Maple Leafs with a 5-1 licking tonight. It was Toronto’s worst beating of the NHL season, and it came before 14,443 partisan fans who couldn’t have enjoyed the carnage more.

With roaring “Rocket” Richard lighting the way with two goals and an assist, the Habitants ran up a 4-0 lead in the opening period. Each team counted once in the third, Rudy Migay for the Leafs and Johnny McCormack for the Habs. Other Montréal marksmen were Ken Mosdell and Floyd Curry.

Although goalie Harry Lumley, who hadn’t allowed more than two goals in any game over the last 16, wasn’t as spectacular as usual, he still came up with some fine stops. The Leafs, too, had a few real chances on Gerry McNeil, but the puck was avoiding them at crucial moments.

Generally, the Flying Frenchmen beat King Clancy’s guys to the punch. They were faster, sharper, and the Leaf defence, outside of top man Jim Thomson, wasn’t nearly as effective as usual.

The Habs started early on their four goal spree in the first period. Of the first four shots on the Toronto net, three were goals.

Less than four minutes after the starting whistle, Mosdell, while being checked, slid an eight footer into the cage. A crouching Lumley apparently expected a harder spot.

Three minutes later, the great “Rocket” ticketed in a long shot by Doug Harvey. Midway through the period, ex-Leaf Johnny McCormack set up the third goal on sheer fight. He barged down the right wing and passed to Curry inside the Leaf blueline. Curry’s shot into the net was a screened drive, with Thomson and Ted Kennedy in the line of fire.

Just one second of the period remained and Earl Balfour of the Leafs was sitting out a holding sin when “Rocket” hit for his second goal. He took a back pass from Harvey inside the Leaf blueline and let go a zippy partially screened backhander.

The Leafs were ahead in only one thing over that opening 20 minutes. That was in a fight where Fern Flaman threw off the gloves to send an opposing rearguard, Dollard Saint-Laurent, to the dressing room for repairs. From one of the coolest settlers in the NHL, Saint-Laurent took a cut under the right eye and another on the bridge of the nose. Both received major penalties. Saint-Laurent spent his in the dressing room getting stitched up, then retired for the night.

After a goalless middle period, the Leafs came back with a fluke goal by Migay early in the third, but it betokened no Leaf upsurge. It was a blueline looper that bounced in front of goalie Gerry McNeil and veered off crazily into one corner, as McNeil played the opposite side.

McCormack, haunting the Leafs offensively as well as defensively, wound up the goal-getting with a close-in shot near the 12 minute mark while standing uncovered in front of the cage.

NOTES: Missing Leafs injured were three right wingers, George Armstrong, Eric Nesterenko, Howie Meeker and left winger Gordie Hannigan. Habs’ sidelined were Jean Béliveau, Dickie Moore and Elmer Lach…Paul Masnick moved up from the Montréal Royals to help at the pivot spot…Stressing the Leaf forward plight was the fact that defenceman Leo Boivin spelled off Kennedy a couple of times. He also was used on defence with Flaman at times after Jim Morrison looked somewhat shaky early in the game.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, December 4, 1953

1st Period
MTL PEN – 00:30 – Curry, tripping
MTL GOAL – 03:39 – Mosdell (Olmstead, Richard)
MTL GOAL – 06:40 – Richard (Harvey, Mosdell)
MTL GOAL – 10:40 – Curry (McCormack, Harvey)
TOR PEN – 12:10 – Flaman, fighting major
MTL PEN – 12:10 – Saint-Laurent, fighting major
MTL PEN – 14:20 – Gamble, tripping
TOR PEN – 18:37 – Balfour, holding
MTL PP GOAL – 19:59 – Richard (Harvey, Olmstead)

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 05:07 – Thomson, holding
MTL PEN – 08:29 – Bouchard, hooking
TOR PEN – 10:29 – Sloan, tripping
MTL PEN – 11:43 – Richard, tripping
TOR PEN – 17:59 – Flaman, boarding

3rd Period
TOR GOAL – 06:24 – Migay
TOR PEN – 07:44 – Morrison, hooking
MTL GOAL – 11:27 – McCormack (MacKay, MacPherson)
TOR PEN – 15:59 – Thomson, holding

MTL – McNeil (W, 22-23)
TOR – Lumley (L, 23-28)

MTL – 9+12+7 = 28
TOR – 9+4+10 = 23

MTLGoaltenders: Gerry McNeil. Defence: Butch Bouchard (C), Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Bud MacPherson, Eddie Mazur, Dollard Saint-Laurent. Forwards: Floyd Curry, Dick Gamble, Bernie Geoffrion, Calum MacKay, Paul Masnick, John McCormack, Paul Meger, Kenny Mosdell, Bert Olmstead, Maurice Richard.
TORGoaltenders: Harry Lumley. Defence: Leo Boivin, Fern Flaman, Tim Horton, Jim Morrison, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: Earl Balfour, Bob Hassard, Ted Kennedy (C), Rudy Migay, Tod Sloan, Sid Smith, Bob Solinger, Ron Stewart, Harry Watson.

MTL – 15-9-2 (.615)
TOR – 11-8-5 (.563)