Game 342 – Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 2

Game 342
Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 2
Wednesday, March 2, 1955
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

A forward line designed by Dick Irvin only a few games back powered the Montréal Canadiens to an exciting 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in a provoking NHL tussle at the Gardens last night.

The new combo, composed of “Rocket” Richard, Jackie LeClair and Dickie Moore, scored all three Canadian goals, with LeClair netting a pair and Moore scoring the other.

The incomparable Richard, who would probably distinguish himself on a line with a couple of club footed hippopotami, picked up three assists. His suave playmaking was directly responsible for the Habs’ last two goals.

Those three assists moved Richard out in front in the individual scoring race, a single point ahead of teammate Jean Béliveau, who failed to grab a single point.

One cheerful aspect of the game for the 14,122 fans was that Sid Smith, the Leafs’ swooping left winger, finally connected for his 30th goal of the season. Defenceman Jim Morrison was the Leafs’ other scorer.

The win moved the Canadiens four points in front of the second place Detroit Red Wings, and the Wings have played one more game. The Leafs, fighting to stay in third place, are now only four points ahead of the Boston Bruins, who downed the New York Rangers last night.

LeClair, in his second successive two goal performance, would have made it three goals last night, but for a particularly larcenous save by Harry Lumley in the first period.

LeClair’s performance must have been rather annoying to Leaf brass, because until last spring he was Leaf property. His professional rights were turned over to the Canadiens in the celebrated transaction that made Brian Cullen a Maple Leaf.

The Leafs seemed to play themselves out in a furious first period, which produced some of the most tempestuous hockey of the season. The tempo slackened in the last two frames, but there were several flurries of red hot action that kept the crowd on edge.

The more polished Canadiens took advantage of Leaf mistakes to score their three goals, although Irvin might insist that the Hab goals were masterpieces of planning and precision.

LeClair scored his first goal by circling the Leaf cage while the Toronto team stood by as though hypnotized. LeClair cut back, whirled around Hugh Bolton, and flipped a backhander between Lumley’s pads.

Richard, who had one of his better nights on Toronto ice, set up LeClair’s second goal. “The Rocket” stole the puck from Smith behind the Toronto net, passed back and LeClair blazed in a shot from about 12 feet out.

Richard did it again early in the third period. This time he intercepted a pass from Ted Kennedy near the Leaf net, slid a short pass in front, and Moore rifled it past Lumley.

Smith scored his 30th goal of the season at the 13 minute mark of the third period, a bewildering backhander that fooled goalie Jacques Plante. Like everyone else in the rink, Plante probably thought it impossible to score from that sharp angle.

Morrison’s first period goal, a long, screened shot came after Tod Sloan had manoeuvred into position with some fancy stick-handling. Sloan’s shot was deflected over the net, but George Armstrong slid the puck back to Morrison.

NOTES: Kennedy gave perfect passes to Gerry Foley and Sloan in front of the Canadien goal in the first period, but no scores resulted. Foley failed to get a shot away and Sloan drifted a shot wide of the net…Sloan did some nifty puck carrying throughout the game but he continually missed passes in the Montréal zone. This is one department in which the Leafs are acknowledged experts…Doug Harvey was, as usual, a standout for the Canadiens. The big defenceman has a habit of being in the right place at the right time…Paul Ronty wore a Canadien uniform, but he watched the game from the bench. Since Ronty’s arrival from New York, two or three other Canadiens have been playing better…Smith, in scoring his 30th goal, equalled his previous high mark accomplished in the 1950-51 season. Sloan scored 31 the same year.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, March 3, 1955

1st Period
TOR PEN – 01:20 – Horton, tripping
TOR PEN – 06:11 – Foley, interference
MTL PEN – 08:18 – Harvey, interference
TOR PEN – 12:33 – Horton, interference
TOR GOAL – 15:04 – Morrison (Armstrong, Sloan)
MTL PEN – 15:55 – Bouchard, tripping

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 02:19 – LeClair (Moore, Richard)
MTL PEN – 08:29 – Johnson, interference
TOR PEN – 09:38 – Sloan, holding
MTL PEN – 11:20 – LeClair, holding
MTL GOAL – 16:43 – LeClair (Richard)

3rd Period
MTL GOAL – 05:31 – Moore (Richard)
TOR GOAL – 13:00 – Smith (Kennedy, Cahan)

MTL – Plante (W, 24-26)
TOR – Lumley (L, 22-25)

MTL – 8+8+9 = 25
TOR – 13+7+6 = 26

MTLGoaltenders: Jacques Plante. Defence: Butch Bouchard (C), Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Dollard Saint-Laurent. Forwards: Jean Béliveau, Floyd Curry, Bernie Geoffrion, Jack LeClair, Calum MacKay, Don Marshall, Dickie Moore, Kenny Mosdell, Bert Olmstead, Maurice Richard.
Goaltenders: Harry Lumley. Defence: Hugh Bolton, Larry Cahan, Tim Horton, Jim Morrison, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: George Armstrong, Brian Cullen, Gerry Foley, Ted Kennedy (C), Joe Klukay, Parker MacDonald, Rudy Migay, Tod Sloan, Sid Smith, Ron Stewart.

MTL – 37-15-9 (.680)
TOR – 23-20-20 (.524)