Game 331 – Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 1

Game 331
Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 1
Wednesday, October 27, 1954
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Montréal’s Flying Frenchmen broke up the finest National Hockey League game of the local season last night on two last period goals that spelled a 3-1 triumph over the Maple Leafs.

The Leafs, whose only victory this term was by the same score over the Canadiens in Montréal a week ago, thus have yet to win a game at home in four tries. The Habitants, by their victory before 13,480 at the Gardens, jumped into a three point lead atop the heap over the surprising New York Rangers.

This was a crisp, fast skating affair of the wide open type that was in contrast to somewhat dismal Leaf efforts here this season. It was unique, too, in that only two penalties were called – both minors and one to each team – and those not until late in the closing period. The contrast between some of the bitter meetings between the two teams was amazing.

The great “Rocket” Richard, Dickie Moore and Bert Olmstead were the Habitant sharpshooters. Sid Smith scored the Leaf goal, but it was the line of Tod Sloan, Harry Watson and George Armstrong that was outstanding.

In the final analysis, it was the ability of the Canadiens to pay off around the net that upset the fine balance. The Leafs couldn’t match them there, although they had as many, if not more, goal-getting chances. Armstrong, for instance, missed two terrific setups that could have smashed a 1-1 tie prevailing at the time.

Moore scored what proved the winner in the eighth minute of the third period after the Leafs had been buzzing around goalie Jacques Plante quite some. From there on, the Habs dominated and the game slowed up by comparison.

Moore jabbed in a short rebound of Jackie LeClair’s slider after some loose Leaf clearing allowed Richard, great both ways, to grab the puck.

The same LeClair, one-time Leaf property who went to Montréal in a deal involving the sensational junior Brian Cullen, helped set up the big insurance goal. He fed Olmstead a pass with 61 seconds to play, and the shot went through goalie Harry Lumley’s legs.

Richard, still one of hockey’s greats at 33 years of age, broke a 0-0 tie just after eight minutes of the second period on a “steal.” He poked the puck away from Jim Morrison at the Hab blueline, raced down the boards and beat Lumley on a sizzler after crossing in front of Tim Horton, the only Leaf back.

Smith started and finished the play for the Toronto goal 10 minutes later. He broke up a Montréal rush and passed to Cullen. The youngster returned the pass as Smith bore down on Doug Harvey, alone in front of Plante. With an uncovered Eric Nesterenko as a decoy on the wing, Smith fired around Harvey.

NOTES: Old-timers couldn’t recall how long it had been – if ever – that a Leaf-Canadien game was as cleanly played. The accent was on sparkling hockey, instead of high sticks and scuffles…Plante, who is unorthodox to say the least, was somewhat lucky early in the second period. He ducked on a lob shot by Armstrong. The puck, taking a sudden drop, plopped on top of the netting, then bounced off and hit the ice just in front of the goal line. Plante fell atop it…Missing for the first time in years, outside of his annual Florida vacation, was Gardens president Conn Smythe. He’s in Lexington, Ky., looking over some horse racing prospects…Coach Dick Irvin of the Canadiens, taking a crack at the close checking style of the Leafs in Montréal last week, said after the win that “there’s a big difference between the way the Canadiens and Leafs play on the road.” His team, he said, “comes in here and plays hockey for 60 minutes,” and “that’s not like the Leafs, who lock the door after they get a goal ahead and throw the puck from the blue line.” Irvin, who sometimes locks the dressing room door to the press when his team loses, had a parting shot: “Don’t worry, Toronto still has Marilyn Bell.”

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, October 28, 1954

1st Period

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 08:08 – Richard
TOR GOAL – 18:14 – Smith (Cullen)

3rd Period
MTL GOAL – 07:49 – Moore (LeClair, Richard)
MTL PEN – 15:13 – Harvey, tripping
TOR PEN – 16:24 – Armstrong, slashing
MTL GOAL – 18:59 – Olmstead (LeClair, MacPherson)

MTL – Plante (W, 30-31)
TOR – Lumley (L, 25-28)

MTL – 6+8+14 = 28
TOR – 11+12+8 = 31

MTLGoaltenders: Jacques Plante. Defence: Butch Bouchard (C), Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Bud MacPherson. 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.
TORGoaltenders: Harry Lumley. Defence: Leo Boivin, Hugh Bolton, Tim Horton, Jim Morrison, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: George Armstrong, Brian Cullen, Gord Hannigan, Ted Kennedy (C), Rudy Migay, Eric Nesterenko, Tod Sloan, Sid Smith, Ron Stewart, Harry Watson.

MTL – 6-3-1 (.650)
TOR – 1-3-3 (.357)