Game 334 – Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 1

Game 334
Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 1
Wednesday, December 8, 1954
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Ron Stewart’s magic hockey wand produced the seldom-seen hat trick last night for all Maple Leaf goals in a 3-1 baffling of the majestic Montréal Canadiens.

The three goals – coming in succession for what is known as the perfect hat trick – obliterated an early enemy lead and jumped the Leafs to within two points of the National League leading losers. Another Toronto victory in tonight’s return tussle at Montréal not only would tie the teams for the top, but would extend an unbeaten Leaf streak to seven games.

Right winger Stewart, in his finest professional hour, provided the most glitter of a solid, all-out, big league spectacle. The smooth Leafs won this one on real merit, with no label of luck attached. They forechecked brilliantly and thus beat the Canadiens at their own game by keeping the majority of the play in the Montréal end.

Tendered a pulse-hopping ovation by the standing room crowd of 13,576 at the Gardens, Stewart was as cool as an old pro in the dressing salon later. It was his first hat trick in three seasons as a Leaf, and the first by a Leaf in the last few years. The three goals raised his seasonal output to a dozen, more than any teammate.

Before the 22 year old Stewart took over, Eddie Litzenberger fired the Habitant hopes with a goal nearing the eight minute mark of the opening period.

He started and finished the play after stealing the puck from skipper Ted Kennedy in front of the Toronto cage. Litzenberger passed to Dickie Moore, then arrived in front of goalie Harry Lumley in time to steer in Moore’s slider. The goal ended a shutout streak on home ice by Lumley at 176 minutes and 19 seconds.

Hard-luck Moore ran into the injury bugaboo again midway through the action overflowing piece. The effort expanded in a high sticking duel with Rudy Migay dislocating his left shoulder for the fourth time. It has become so commonplace an occurrence the shoulder swings back somewhat freely and, beyond some aches, Moore may be ready for some action tonight.

Each team was shorthanded, one player through a penalty when Stewart opened with the heavy artillery in the closing minutes of the first period.

He rushed in to pick up a passout from Tim Horton and backhand a 10-footer past rookie Charlie Hodge. Then, early in the middle session, Jim Morrison bounced a drive off Canadiens defenceman Butch Bouchard, and Stewart was there to pounce on the rebound.

The last period wasn’t quite six minutes gone when Stewart, making like a jet on skates, grabbed a rink-wide pass from Joe Klulay and threaded the needle on a 20-footer.

Stewart’s linemates, Migay and Klukay, were tremendous factors too. Stewart and Migay not only killed penalties brilliantly, but all three played sound, stirring hockey both ways. For the veteran Klukay, back with the Leafs after a sojourn in Boston, it was his finest effort since rejoining Toronto several weeks ago. He appeared to have dropped some years.

While Leafian pressure eased Lumley’s load in comparison to some nights, he still came up with the big saves. For instance, he performed dazzling stops on Doug Harvey and Litzenberger with the Habs pressing in the final minute.

It was a tribute to the two-way Leaf teamwork that they threw a checking blindfold on the Big Four – “Boom Boom” Geoffrion, “Rocket” Richard, Jean Béliveau and Ken Mosdell. Those sharpshooters hold down the top four spots in the league’s point-getting race.

Shortly after Stewart’s final goal, Lumley perpetrated theft on Béliveau with a sliding save. Béliveau grabbed the rebound, but the shot struck the crossbar and bounced away.

There was something else, too. There was grimness and ill-feeling out there, but the concentration was so much on stirring hockey that not a knuckle was thrown.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, December 9, 1954

1st Period
MTL GOAL – 07:40 – Litzenberger (Moore, Mosdell)
TOR PEN – 10:42 – Migay, tripping
MTL PEN – 13:46 – Johnson, interference
TOR PEN – 14:35 – Bolton, tripping
TOR GOAL – 15:34 – Stewart (Horton, Migay)

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 05:20 – Stewart (Morrison, Klukay)
MTL PEN – 09:40 – Moore, high sticking
TOR PEN – 09:40 – Migay, high sticking
MTL PEN – 12:22 – Mosdell, tripping
MTL PEN – 14:59 – Béliveau, roughing
TOR PEN – 14:59 – Klukay, roughing

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 03:09 – Mazur, tripping
TOR GOAL – 05:57 – Stewart (Klukay, Migay)

TOR – Lumley (W, 25-26)
MTL – Hodge (L, 33-36)

TOR – 10+15+11 = 36
MTL – 8+8+10 = 26

TORGoaltenders: Harry Lumley. Defence: Hugh Bolton, Larry Cahan, Tim Horton, Jim Morrison, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: George Armstrong, Ted Kennedy (C), Joe Klukay, Parker MacDonald, Willie Marshall, Rudy Migay, Eric Nesterenko, Tod Sloan, Sid Smith, Ron Stewart.
MTLGoaltenders: Charlie Hodge. Defence: Butch Bouchard (C), Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Bud MacPherson, Eddie Mazur, Dollard Saint-Laurent. Forwards: Jean Béliveau, Floyd Curry, Bernie Geoffrion, Jack LeClair, Ed Litzenberger, Dickie Moore, Kenny Mosdell, Bert Olmstead, Maurice Richard, Orval Tessier.

TOR – 14-6-6 (.654)
MTL – 16-8-4 (.643)