Game 326 – Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 2

Game 326
Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 2
Saturday, February 13, 1954
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Sabotaged for the second time this season by a first year rule, the Maple Leafs were forced to accept a 2-2 division of points with the Montréal Canadiens at the Gardens Saturday night, after fondling a 2-0 lead into the final 15 minutes.

The Habs, who looked fairly hopeless for two periods, got their late flurry sparking from ancient Elmer Lach, but it was Jean Béliveau, the fabulous rookie who polished the skids for the home side as he inspired the Canadiens to a pair of goals in four minutes and 15 seconds of the final session.

Referee Red Storey wiped out a first period goal by Sid Smith, at a time when the Leafs were in front 1-0. Storey became involved in this legitimate, but highly unpopular decision, judging by the noisy reaction of the 14,581 fans, when some tender portion of his anatomy stopped a blistering shot by Ron Stewart. As the puck bounced off the referee, Sid Smith pounced on it, and dribbled a shot past Jacques Plante, a replacement for the injured Gerry McNeil.

The referee wiped out the score immediately, implementing a freshman rule which deprives any team of an unseemly advantage by having an official get in the way of the puck. It happened once before to the Leafs this season, and they had to settle for a 2-2 tie instead of a 3-2 victory that time as well.

Tim Horton, the most spectacular attacking Leaf since Syl Apps took in his sign, had supplied Toronto with an early lead. A blazing slap shot hit the target a few seconds short of the game’s five minute mark.

Smith’s bid to make it 2-0 was rejected, but Eric Nesterenko made the grade early in the third, batting in Migay’s rebound after Rudy made a fine play. Horton picked up his 20th assist of the season, by sending Migay on his way.

Béliveau, who appears to be coming into his own after a siege of injuries, fractured Harry Lumley’s shutout prospects at the 5:29 mark. Bert Olmstead put a perfect pass onto Jean Marc’s stick and “Le Gros Bill,” with no one to hinder him, whipped a close shot past Lumley. Elmer Lach deflected a perfect corner passout from Olmstead for the tying goal.

Twice during the game, the Leafs were two men short. In the first period, Bob Bailey and Fern Flaman were sitting it out together for 33 seconds. In the third period, Horton and Flaman were absent together for 42 seconds.

Ted Kennedy, whose wingers aren’t making his great performance prove in the points column, Jim Thomson and Jim Morrison held off the Habs for the 42 seconds, but before Flaman got back, Lach had tied the score.

NOTES: Horton almost broke up the game with nine minutes to go, when he broke through to grab Ted Sloan’s flip pass behind the defence. Just as he was going to make his play, a Montréal stick (he thinks it might have been McCormack’s) carved him across the bridge of the nose for four stitches…Plante was adequate as McNeil’s replacement, but he didn’t have too many tough ones to handle…”Rocket” Richard, who didn’t have a chance to shake loose earlier, broke in twice during the final minute, a backhander that missed and a bad angle shot that Lumley deflected…The game left Lumley with a three goal edge over Terry Sawchuk in the Vézina race, on even games…Harry Watson earned his fifth assist by passing back to Horton for Tim’s sixth goal.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, February 15, 1954

1st Period
TOR GOAL – 04:55 – Horton (Bailey, Watson)
MTL PEN – 05:52 – Mazur, holding
TOR PEN – 10:48 – Bailey, charging
TOR PEN – 12:15 – Flaman, tripping
MTL PEN – 18:35 – Mazur, boarding

2nd Period
MTL PEN – 01:30 – MacPherson, hooking
TOR PEN – 11:30 – Morrison, holding
MTL PEN – 14:18 – Olmstead, tripping
TOR PEN – 16:10 – Thomson, hooking

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 01:18 – Olmstead, tripping
TOR PP GOAL – 03:08 – Nesterenko (Migay, Horton)
MTL GOAL – 05:29 – Béliveau (Olmstead, Richard)
TOR PEN – 06:59 – Horton, interference
TOR PEN – 08:16 – Flaman, slashing
MTL PP GOAL – 09:44 – Lach (Olmstead, Béliveau)
MTL PEN – 10:28 – Mosdell, tripping
TOR PEN – 11:30 – Thomson, interference

TOR – Lumley (T, 24-26)
MTL – Plante (T, 21-23)

TOR – 7+8+8 = 23
MTL – 7+7+12 = 26

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, Ron Stewart, Harry Watson.
MTLGoaltenders: Jacques Plante. Defence: Butch Bouchard (C), Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Bud MacPherson, Eddie Mazur. Forwards: Jean Béliveau, Floyd Curry, Lorne Davis, Elmer Lach, Paul Masnick, John McCormack, Paul Meger, Kenny Mosdell, Bert Olmstead, Maurice Richard.

TOR – 27-17-9 (.594)
MTL – 28-19-7 (.583)