Game 325 – Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 2

Game 325
Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 2
Thursday, February 4, 1954
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

The Toronto Maple Leafs finally reached an objective that has been eluding them all season when they defeated the Montréal Canadiens 4-2 here tonight to move into second place in the NHL standings.

The Leafs accomplished their first victory on Montréal ice this season before 14,538 fans. Left winger Sid Smith assured victory when he scored the Leafs’ fourth goal into an empty net with only 18 seconds of playing time remaining, and Habs goalie Gerry McNeil out of his net in favour of a sixth forward.

Gord Hannigan, a player whose work hasn’t been particularly impressive in recent games, scored two goals for the Leafs, both in the first period. Harry Watson scored the Leafs’ other goal, also in the first period.

Toronto showed an overwhelming superiority in the first period in building up a 3-0 lead. They outshot the sluggish Habitants 14-4, and outshot them 42-16 over the game.

The Canadiens made a whirlwind comeback halfway through the second period when Leaf Jimmy Thomson was sent off for tripping. They generated so much power in the next few minutes that they almost cancelled the Leafs’ industrious labours in the preceding 30 minutes.

Maurice Richard brought his admiring public to its feet with his 30th goal of the season just as Thomson returned to the ice. So inspired were the Canucks by this goal that they bombarded the Leafs incessantly for the next few minutes. Floyd Curry scored their second goal one minute and 30 seconds after Richard’s counter.

The Leafs weathered that rally, mostly due to the resourceful forechecking of the Hannigan, Rudy Migay and Eric Nesterenko line, and the superb play of Ted Kennedy.

Harry Lumley, who wasn’t kept nearly as busy as McNeil, made a couple of great saves in the third period to keep the Canadiens from tying the score. Curry and Elmer Lach broke through on him, but both times he stopped their shots.

Jean Marc Béliveau centred Richard and Bert Olmstead most of the time, but this shift in centres didn’t seem to give the Canadiens more punch, although both Richard and Olmstead were always dangerous.

Despite recent reports of a juggled Maple Leaf lineup, Sid Smith was in his customary spot on a line with Kennedy and Ron Stewart.

Only last Wednesday, when coach King Clancy made some line changes for a Leaf practice game, he said: “We’re trying to sharpen up the left wing spot. Outside of Watson, we’re not getting the best out of the players on that side.”

The practice changes had shifted Smith off the Kennedy line to left wing on the third line with Gord Hannigan and Eric Nesterenko. Replacing Smith was Rudy Migay. Clancy said it might stay that way for this game with the Habs.

Apparently it was only a psychological move. In any event, it paid off. Left wingers scored all of tonight’s Leafs goals.

Three times in the last five gams, the Leafs had muffed chances to climb over the Flying Frenchmen into the second slot. In finally overcoming the jinx, they produced their first points on Montréal ice this season. The Leafs had lost all four previous games here this season.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, February 5, 1954

1st Period
MTL PEN – 01:47 – Richard, hooking
TOR GOAL – 05:10 – Watson (Sloan, Armstrong)
TOR GOAL – 08:00 – Hannigan (Nesterenko, Migay)
TOR PEN – 10:07 – Horton, tripping
TOR PEN – 10:07 – Sloan, misconduct
MTL PEN – 11:36 – Lach, tripping
TOR GOAL – 14:03 – Hannigan (Thomson, Migay)
MTL PEN – 15:19 – Harvey, hooking

2nd Period
MTL PEN – 06:52 – Olmstead, tripping
TOR PEN – 09:05 – Thomson, tripping
MTL GOAL – 11:05 – Richard (Geoffrion, Béliveau)
MTL GOAL – 12:35 – Curry
MTL PEN – 14:20 – Johnson, slashing
TOR PEN – 14:20 – Kennedy, slashing
TOR PEN – 18:22 – Thomson, elbowing

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 03:43 – Horton, elbowing
MTL PEN – 05:19 – Olmstead, hooking
MTL PEN – 14:37 – Lach, holding
TOR EN GOAL – 19:42 – Smith

TOR – Lumley (W, 14-16)
MTL – McNeil (L, 38-41)

TOR – 14+15+13 = 42
MTL – 4+5+7 = 16

TORGoaltenders: Harry Lumley. Defence: Leo Boivin, Tim Horton, Jim Morrison, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: George Armstrong, Bob Bailey, Gord Hannigan, Ted Kennedy (C), Rudy Migay, Eric Nesterenko, Tod Sloan, Sid Smith, Ron Stewart, Harry Watson.
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, Elmer Lach, Paul Masnick, John McCormack, Paul Meger, Kenny Mosdell, Bert Olmstead, Maurice Richard.

TOR – 25-15-8 (.604)
MTL – 26-19-5 (.570)