Game 345 – Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 1

Game 345
Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 1
Wednesday, October 26, 1955
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

The diminutive Dickie Duff dug the Maple Leafs out of the National Hockey League cellar last night, scoring both goals in a 2-1 squeeze over the Montréal Canadiens.

With the Flying Frenchmen leading 1-0, the 139 pound junior of last season notched his initial big time goal late in the middle period. Celebrating that one, he backhanded a 30-footer along the ice for the winner in the third minute of the final period.

Overall, it was splendid game of speed and close checking, but with few crunching body blows. It was only the second defeat for the top running Habitants, and it preserved the Leafs’ unbeaten streak at the Gardens. Previously, they won two and tied one here.

For the Leafs, Duff’s feat before the largest home crowd of the season – 13,852 – was like finding a pilot to shoot the rough waters. They had taken over play about the game’s midway mark, but couldn’t finish off around the nets in face of a tenacious Montréal defence.

The Canadiens, clearly the better team over the opening period when goalie Harry Lumley saved the Leafs, finally scored in the fourth minute of the second. Jackie LeClair whipped in a 35-footer after a passout from Dickie Moore.

Then came Duff’s finest hour, lifting the Leafs over defeated Detroit into fifth place. With less than four minutes of the period remaining, he backhanded the tying goal from the side of the net after skating in with a pass from the point by Jim Morrison.

The 19 year old Duff also helped set up his second goal by carrying up and shooting the puck into a corner. His wingmate, George Armstrong, dug it out and passed back. Duff, in an awkward position, nevertheless backhanded it along the ice and past that slightly unorthodox netminder, Jacques Plante.

The Canadiens’ chances of a tie were hurt in the last couple of minutes after an argument at the penalty box over a delayed penalty. The Habs argued the timekeeper was at fault in signalling one of their players to return to the ice before his time was up.

Referee Frank Udvari didn’t see it that way, and assessed a two minute team penalty, served by Ken Mosdell. When Tom Johnson directed some remarks at the referee, he was thrown out with a 10 minute misconduct.

Slightly disappointing were 34 year old Maurice “Rocket” Richard and his 19 year old brother Henri, who has been dubbed “The Pocket Rocket.” But the Canadiens’ new coach, Toe Blake, was mighty upset over the performance of the entire team.

“The Pocket Rocket,” playing right wing, appeared to lose his effectiveness after a hard check by Eric Nesterenko early in the game. The big “Rocket” appeared a little sluggish. Both are high up in the league point-getting lists, with the little “Rocket” graduating from junior ranks in slightly sensational style over the Habs’ seven games prior to this one.

NOTES: Confidence oozed from Duff after his first goal against the mighty Habs. He was outstanding and, seconds after his second goal, nearly had another when he carried in and rounded the cage, before being beaten by Plante…Defenceman Tim Horton continued to sit it out. He’ll probably make his seasonal debut against Chicago here Saturday. Horton has been sidelined since breaking a leg in a game here last March, but started working out with the team in scrimmages this week…Captain Sid Smith appeared off his game. The All Star left winger was shifted onto a new line a few days ago, working with centre Rudy Migay and Ron Stewart. He formerly was on a unit with rookie Billy Harris and Eric Nesterenko, and was replaced there by Earl Balfour.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, October 27, 1955

1st Period
TOR PEN – 00:04 – Migay, tripping
MTL PEN – 03:29 – Bouchard, high sticking
TOR PEN – 06:26 – Duff, hooking
TOR PEN – 11:32 – Sloan, high sticking
MTL PEN – 17:37 – M. Richard, tripping
MTL PEN – 19:12 – Harvey, holding

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 03:37 – LeClair (Moore, M. Richard)
MTL PEN – 06:08 – Harvey, holding
TOR PEN – 10:21 – Balfour, slashing
TOR GOAL – 16:25 – Duff (Morrison, Armstrong)

3rd Period
TOR GOAL – 02:38 – Duff (Armstrong)
MTL PEN – 05:20 – Johnson, slashing
TOR PEN – 10:05 – Thomson, tripping
TOR PEN – 12:05 – Stewart, high sticking / roughing double minor
MTL PEN – 12:05 – Olmstead, slashing / roughing double minor
MTL PEN – 13:27 – Moore, slashing
MTL PEN – 14:37 – Johnson, elbowing
TOR PEN – 14:37 – Sloan, high sticking
MTL PEN – 17:53 – Olmstead, leaving penalty box
MTL PEN – 17:53 – Johnson, misconduct
MTL PEN – 18:51 – Béliveau, slashing
TOR PEN – 18:51 – Armstrong, tripping

TOR – Lumley (W, 24-25)
MTL – Plante (L, 27-29)

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

TOR – 3-5-1 (.389)
MTL – 5-2-1 (.688)