Game 323 – Canadiens 7, Maple Leafs 3

Game 323
Canadiens 7, Maple Leafs 3
Thursday, January 7, 1954
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

The fabulous “Rocket” Richard hit for the hat trick tonight amid a 7-3 smashing of the Maple Leafs by the suddenly dazzling Montréal Canadiens.

“Boom Boom” Geoffrion added another two goals in the worst Leaf defeat of the NHL season that continued their winless jinx on Montréal ice.

“The Rocket,” raising his goal total to 25 on tonight’s three goal effort, spearheaded an attack that helped make for the Leafs’ worst display this term. They were outplayed from goal out in absorbing their fourth successive defeat here before a roaring gathering of 14,452.

Besides “The Rocket” and “Boom Boom,” “Spider” Mazur and Ken Mosdell added singles, and Richard also gained two assists. Tod Sloan, Ron Stewart and Eric Nesterenko were the Leaf marksmen in a game dominated by the Habs with speed, good passing and tenacious checking.

The outcome broke a Leaf lossless skein after two wins and two ties. For the Habitants, who stormed out of the New Year doldrums looking like world beaters, it was their initial win after a loss and three ties in their last four games. The last previous worst beating absorbed by the Leafs also was on Montréal ice, where the Leafs haven’t gained a point this season, and that was a 5-1 drubbing a month ago.

Only a few hours before the game, managing director Frank Selke of the Habs moaned that there were only about half a dozen uninjured players on his team. He asked hockey writers not to treat the Habs too harshly after they had been beaten by “four or five goals.” Yet, such fine hockey felows as Richard, Geoffrion and Ken Mosdell, who were supposed to be on the limp, were the standouts.

Richard’s first goal to break goalie Harry Lumley’s dike in the third minute ended a Toronto unscored-upon string at 145 minutes and 35 seconds. The last goal against the Leafs was by Hab Jean Béliveau in a 2-2 draw in Toronto last week. Since then, Lumley had registered two weekend shutouts.

“The Rocket” whipped a sizzler that missed the net, then picked up the rebound off the back boards to score.

Little less than three minutes later, with the Leaf defence continuing to play it soft, “Spider” Mazur counted on a low shot from dead in front.

The outplayed Leafs had their first real drive on goalie Gerry McNeil by way of a slap shot by Rudy Migay after nearly eight minutes had gone by. Then, just after Tim Horton had returned from a tripping penalty, he blazed a long drive that Sloan tipped in from near the net.

The Leafs were fortunate that it wasn’t 3-1 by the end of the first period. With little more than a minute remaining, Masnick deflected a drive that apparently had Lumley beaten. But, in one of hockey’s oddities, Lum’s left foot swung around behind him in a sort of reflex action, and kicked out the puck after it actually had passed his body.

The way the Canadiens were buzzing around the Leaf end, it was surprising that the Leafs managed to tie the game momentarily at 2-2 nearing the game’s halfway mark. Stewart did the trick with a shot from the side.

Then, the really Flying Frenchmen tore the game apart with two goals within 35 seconds, and another four minutes later. Richard notched his second goal on a slide shot as he fell to the ice near Lumley with defenceman Jim Thomson almost riding on his shoulder. Almost from the faceoff, Mosdell took a pass from Richard, raced down right wing and let go a low backhander from close in. Geoffrion made it 5-2 on a backhander from in front of the cage with less than five minutes of the middle period remaining.

The Habs continued to dominate play in the last period, yet it was the Leafs who scored the first goal. That came with little more than six minutes remaining, when Nesterenko finished off a passing play with a low, short drive.

Then, with Leo Boivin off on a cheap penalty, the Habs struck for their final two goals in 23 seconds. Richard’s third goal of the game was a backhander as he spun around in front of the cage. Geoffrion cut in alone on Lumley to finish the rout with little more than three minutes remaining.

NOTES: Managing director Frank Selke of the Canadiens says there is no truth in reports a player deal is pending with the Chicago Black Hawks. “If the other clubs make a deal with the Hawks, we will,” said Selke, in reference to suggested playing aid for the talented Chicago club…The Hawks, incidentally, sat in as spectators tonight. They play here Saturday…Tonight, in a game that wasn’t nearly as bitter as many figured it might be, there were two fistfights. The first, between rookie Bob Bailey and Bert Olmstead, wound up as the only thing the Leafs won. That happened late in the second period.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, January 8, 1954

1st Period
MTL GOAL – 02:26 – Richard
MTL GOAL – 05:20 – Mazur (Masnick, Saint-Laurent)
TOR PEN – 08:31 – Horton, tripping
TOR GOAL – 11:26 – Sloan (Horton, Armstrong)
TOR PEN – 13:20 – Bailey, high sticking
TOR PEN – 19:18 – Boivin, tripping

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 08:58 – Stewart (Smith)
MTL GOAL – 10:39 – Richard
MTL GOAL – 11:14 – Mosdell (Richard, Saint-Laurent)
MTL GOAL – 15:16 – Geoffrion (Masnick, Harvey)
TOR PEN – 17:21 – Bailey, fighting major
MTL PEN – 17:21 – Olmstead, fighting major

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 05:16 – Migay, fighting major
MTL PEN – 05:16 – Masnick, fighting major
TOR PEN – 08:20 – Boivin, tripping
TOR GOAL – 13:17 – Nesterenko (Hannigan, Migay)
TOR PEN – 14:59 – Boivin, delay of game
MTL PP GOAL – 16:28 – Richard (Mazur, Masnick)
MTL PP GOAL – 16:41 – Geoffrion (Masnick, Harvey)

MTL – McNeil (W, 23-26)
TOR – Lumley (L, 24-31)

MTL – 13+11+7 = 31
TOR – 11+9+6 = 26

MTLGoaltenders: Gerry McNeil. Defence: Butch Bouchard (C), Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Eddie Mazur, Dollard Saint-Laurent. Forwards: Jean Béliveau, Floyd Curry, Dick Gamble, Bernie Geoffrion, Paul Masnick, John McCormack, Kenny Mosdell, Bert Olmstead, Maurice Richard.
TORGoaltenders: Harry Lumley. Defence: Leo Boivin, Fern Flaman, Tim Horton, Jim Morrison, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: George Armstrong, Bob Bailey, Gord Hannigan, Ted Kennedy (C), Rudy Migay, Eric Nesterenko, Tod Sloan, Sid Smith, Bob Solinger, Ron Stewart, Harry Watson.

MTL – 22-13-5 (.613)
TOR – 18-11-8 (.595)