Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 1
Thursday, October 21, 1954
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec
Harry Watson’s 200th National Hockey League goal opened the gate to the first triumph of the season for the Maple Leafs tonight, a 3-1 edge over the Montréal Canadiens.
The victory snapped the winless padlock after two losses and two ties, and the Leafs et up a magnificent defensive system as the key.
The Leafs won because they forechecked and backchecked brilliantly all the way. There was no letdown this time, and that helped wee Gil Mayer, substituting for the injured Harry Lumley in goal. He was aided in his fine individual effort by a Toronto blueline corps that stopped as many or more shots as he.
The 24 year old Mayer, up in the big leagues for only the third time since he turned pro in ’49, had only 19 shots to handle. The Leafs threw 35 at Jacques Plante, but many were of the easy, long type. Mayer, who had lost his two previous starts with the Leafs, wound up his creditable performance by robbing “Rocket” Richard at the goalmouth in the final minute with Plante benched in favour of an extra attacker.
Besides Watson, hard driving Hugh Bolton, a standout on defence, shot a goal, and Tod Sloan scored an insurance tally in the closing minutes that sent the 14,404 crowd streaming toward the exits. This wasn’t the usual type of Montréal-Toronto game in that it lacked the roughness and bitterness of some.
“Boom Boom” Geoffrion scored the Habs’ only goal. It came just after the halfway mark of the middle period.
The Leafs survived two penalties in the opening five minutes, before Canadien Bud MacPherson opened the dikes with an interference minor. While he was off, the Leafs ran up a 2-0 lead on goals by Watson and Bolton, little more than a minute apart.
From the faceoff after the penalty, Sloan passed back to workhouse Bolton, who zipped the puck over to Watson. The 31 year old veteran connected on a long drive, then grabbed the puck as a souvenir. That was at 11:31. Bolton made it look somewhat easy 68 seconds later when he carried up from centre, shoved the puck between the defence, and picked it up on the other side to beat Plante on a 10-footer.
The sides were even when Geoffrion cut the margin just after the game’s halfway mark. He skated away from his check, Watson, inside the Toronto blueline and blazed a hot one. Mayer stopped it, fell, and “Boom Boom” blasted in the rebound.
Sloan, just about the fastest man on the ice and a Leaf standout, relieved pressure with an insurance goal with little more than two minutes of the game remaining. He grabbed a loose puck in the Canadien end, circled the net, and popped in a backhander.
NOTES: In a mid-ice ceremony, retired Elmer Lach and “Rocket” Richard of the Canadiens were presented with a Conn Smythe golf trophy as NHL champions in a tournament held in connection with the Labatt Open in Toronto last summer. Hugh Labatt made the presentation…Ron Stewart spelled off Dave Creighton on right wing on the line with Ted Kennedy and Sid Smith. That’s Stewart’s former spot…With eight minutes to go and the Leafs leading 2-1, MacPherson hit the post…This was the initial meeting of the teams this season…Lumley stood in bed at home. It pained him to sit down. He may, however, be sufficiently recovered to play against Boston on Saturday. He injured muscles below his spine in a Tuesday workout…The 155 pound Mayer, up from the American League farm at Pittsburgh, looked especially good on tries by Dickie Moore, Richard and Geoffrion.
Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, October 22, 1954
TOR PEN – 01:37 – Sloan, tripping
TOR PEN – 04:37 – Morrison, tripping
MTL PEN – 11:23 – MacPherson, interference
TOR PP GOAL – 11:31 – Watson (Bolton, Sloan)
TOR PP GOAL – 12:39 – Bolton
TOR PEN – 14:04 – Boivin, tripping
MTL PEN – 16:30 – Geoffrion, slashing
TOR PEN – 00:19 – Boivin, interference
MTL GOAL – 11:57 – Geoffrion (Moore, Johnson)
MTL PEN – 15:17 – Richard, tripping
TOR GOAL – 17:38 – Sloan
MTL PEN – 18:18 – Meger, high sticking
TOR PEN – 18:18 – Morrison, high sticking
TOR – Mayer (W, 18-19)
MTL – Plante (L, 32-35)
SHOTS ON GOAL
TOR – 10+8+17 = 35
MTL – 5+7+7 = 19
TOR – Goaltenders: Gilles Mayer. Defence: Leo Boivin, Hugh Bolton, Tim Horton, Jim Morrison, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: George Armstrong, Bob Bailey, Dave Creighton, Brian Cullen, Ted Kennedy (C), Rudy Migay, Eric Nesterenko, Tod Sloan, Sid Smith, Ron Stewart, Harry Watson.
MTL – Goaltenders: Jacques Plante. Defence: Butch Bouchard (C), Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Bud MacPherson, Dollard Saint-Laurent. Forwards: Jean Béliveau, Floyd Curry, Bernie Geoffrion, Jack LeClair, Ed Litzenberger, Calum MacKay, Paul Masnick, Paul Meger, Dickie Moore, Kenny Mosdell, Bert Olmstead, Maurice Richard.
TOR – 1-2-2 (.400)
MTL – 4-2-1 (.643)