Game 344 – Canadiens 2, Maple Leafs 0

Game 344
Canadiens 2, Maple Leafs 0
Thursday, October 6, 1955
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

Jacques Plante, the nomadic goalie of the Montréal Canadiens, picked up the first shutout of the season here tonight, as the Habs blanked the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-0 in the opening game of the National Hockey League schedule.

The Leafs, despite the fact that they have been instructed to boost their goal production this season, were unable to beat Plante, but it wasn’t because they didn’t have opportunities.

Their usual difficulty, inability to shoot on goal, was the Leafs’ principal failure and, in contrast, it was the Canadiens’ strong point. There was little to choose between the teams on their play and, apart from shooting, the Leafs probably had an edge.

Veterans Bert Olmstead and Maurice Richard, the latter making a triumphant return after a tearful suspension in the final three games of last season, scored the Montréal goals.

Richard’s goal, as usual, wrenched a deafening roar from the crowd of 13,548, although it wasn’t one of the classical scores which he normally authors.

The victory might turn out to be a rather expensive one for the Canadiens. Their ace right winger, Bernie Geoffrion, the league’s top scorer last season, was injured in the first period and removed to hospital.

Geoffrion was steered into the backboards by Leaf rookie Dickie Duff, and while his (Geoffrion’s) attention was diverted, he was knocked into the boards by Leaf defenceman Larry Cahan.

The bump looked innocent enough but Geoffrion remained motionless on the ice, and a few minutes later he was stretchered away. It was later revealed that he had wrenched muscles in his side and back. A more thorough examination tomorrow will reveal how long he will be out.

The Leafs could have won tonight’s game, but they were handicapped by their usual hesitancy in front of the opposition goal. Even when in a position to shoot, a second or two of delay was sufficient for them to lose the puck.

The Canadiens, called by some experts as able enough to win the league by 10 games, didn’t show a great deal. Some of their better players, like Jean Béliveau and “The Rocket,” didn’t appear too ambitious.

One of the Canadiens’ more active performers was Henri Richard, Maurice’s younger brother. The young Richard skated fast and elusively, manoeuvred well, but had a habit of carrying his stick too high. The Leafs tolerated it – for this game anyway.

Tod Sloan was the Leafs’ top forward, but there was no doubt about their leading all around player. That would have to be defenceman Jimmy Morrison, who was the outstanding player on the ice, with his defensive play and rushing.

Olmstead sent the Canadiens ahead to stay late in the first period. Doug Harvey’s drive from the right point was going to miss the net by about five feet when Olmstead struck out his stick and steered the puck past Harry Lumley.

The teams battled through a goalless second period, and it was early in the third when “The Rocket” scored his first goal of the season, and the 423rd of his career.

Dickie Moore, one of the Canadiens’ more industrious players, tossed the puck from behind the Leafs net. Richard, on the fringe of a group of loitering Leafs, picked it up and quickly triggered a shot that caught the net on Lumley’s right. Richard accomplished it in a second.

The Leafs, with Sloan a consistent attacker, had the Canadiens backed into their own zone several times, but Plante didn’t appear too worried, because few shots drifted his way. The Leafs had uncanny accuracy in missing the net.

Saturday night the Leafs open their home season in Maple Leaf Gardens when they oppose the Detroit Red Wings.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, October 7, 1955

1st Period
MTL PEN – 01:09 – Gamble, hooking
TOR PEN – 05:25 – Sloan, high sticking
MTL PEN – 05:25 – Béliveau, high sticking
MTL PEN – 07:44 – Béliveau, high sticking
TOR PEN – 15:31 – Armstrong, interference
MTL GOAL – 19:25 – Olmstead (Harvey)
TOR PEN – 19:40 – Bailey, cross checking

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 05:50 – Klukay, high sticking

3rd Period
MTL GOAL – 05:24 – M. Richard (Moore, LeClair)

MTL – Plante (W + SO, 23-23)
TOR – Lumley (L, 18-20)

MTL – 6+9+5 = 20
TOR – 10+3+10 = 23

MTLGoaltenders: Jacques Plante. Defence: Butch Bouchard (C), Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Dollard Saint-Laurent, Jean-Guy Talbot. Forwards: Jean Béliveau, Floyd Curry, Dick Gamble, Bernie Geoffrion, Jack LeClair, Don Marshall, Dickie Moore, Kenny Mosdell, Bert Olmstead, Henri Richard, Maurice Richard.
Goaltenders: Harry Lumley. Defence: Hugh Bolton, Larry Cahan, Jim Morrison, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: George Armstrong, Bob Bailey, Earl Balfour, Dick Duff, Billy Harris, Joe Klukay, Rudy Migay, Eric Nesterenko, Tod Sloan, Sid Smith (C), Ron Stewart.

MTL – 1-0-0 (1.000)
TOR – 0-1-0 (.000)