Game 352 – Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 2

Game 352
Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 2
Wednesday, January 18, 1956
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

The Montréal Canadiens, supposedly in the throes of a grievous slump, looked surprisingly vigorous in the Gardens last night, as they turned on the power in the third period to defeat the Maple Leafs 3-2.

One of the largest crowds of the season, 14,341 packed like beans in a can, saw the Leafs wilt in the final frame after holding the explosive Canadiens on reasonably even terms for the first two periods.

Bernie Geoffrion, Maurice Richard and Bert Olmstead scored the Montréal goals in that order. Dick Duff and Tod Sloan were the Toronto marksmen. For Sloan it was his 25th of the season, tops in the National Hockey League.

Goalkeepers Harry Lumley and Jacques Plante were at their acrobatic best to keep the score at a respectable level. And their vision was impeded a great deal of the time by the bulging posteriors of their own defencemen. Lumley also had to contend with the gluteus maximi of a few Canadiens.

He was trying to peer around or beyond the nether regions of large Jean Béliveau when Olmstead scored the winning goal near the three quarter mark of the third period. That, incidentally, was Geoffrion’s principal contribution to the Canadiens’ win.

Olmstead fired a low, hard shot from the left point and the puck appeared to soar between Béliveau’s legs first, and then Lumley’s. But even prior to that, the Canadiens had established their superiority. They had been manoeuvring continually in the Leaf zone, and the Leafs got respite only by icing the puck.

Lumley was removed for a sixth attacker with 40 seconds remaining, and it almost resulted in an additional goal for the Canadiens. Butch Curry carried the puck down the ice, aimed carefully, but hit the left goal post.

With this win, the Canadiens established an eight point lead on the second place New York Rangers. And the Leafs blew an opportunity to take possession of fourth place alone. They are tied in that position with the Chicago Black Hawks.

It was an exciting game, but the Leafs, seemingly fearful of their assignment, made too many mistakes. And sometimes their erratic shooting was reminiscent of early in the season, when they hit the end boards only with extreme difficulty.

For two periods, the Leafs had an edge in play only when the line of Sloan, Duff and George Armstrong was on the ice. And this line appeared to tire in the third period.

Duff sent the Leafs ahead in the first period, sweeping in a pass from Sloan. Sloan recovered Hugh Bolton’s long shot to set up the play.

Geoffrion tied the score in the second period, a scorching 30-footer that Lumley didn’t see because Bolton, Marc Réaume and Béliveau were in front of him. Geoffrion somehow tunnelled the puck through his avoirdupois.

Maurice Richard, with that rare anticipation he possesses, sent the Canadiens ahead when he pilfered a pass from Earl Balfour in the Leaf zone. He darted in unmolested and beat Lumley.

Sloan tied the score for the Leafs 39 seconds later on a rush with Armstrong and Bolton. He fooled Plante with a short shot from right wing. Olmstead scored the only goal of the third period.

Apart from Plante, Maurice Richard was the Canadiens best player. Olmstead, Henri Richard, Dickie Moore and Geoffrion also played well. Sloan, Armstrong, Duff, Bolton and Sid Smith, plus Lumley, were the Leafs’ best.

NOTES: Canadiens coach Toe Blake said it was “the best game we’ve played in weeks.” Leafs’ King Clancy expressed the same sentiments – 24 hours earlier…Henri Richard, playing his first game since he was injured a few weeks ago, was as elusive as ever in the first two periods…Both teams missed scoring on breakaways. Lumley stopped Don Marshall in the first period. Bolton sent Billy Harris away in the clear in the second, but Plante grabbed the shot..Only six penalties were imposed by referee Jack Mehlenbacher, three to each team. The same teams play in Montréal tonight.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, January 19, 1956

1st Period
TOR PEN – 01:44 – Burega, interference
MTL PEN – 03:31 – Olmstead, interference
TOR GOAL – 08:14 – Duff (Sloan, Bolton)
TOR PEN – 14:37 – Réaume, holding
MTL PEN – 17:43 – Johnson, tripping

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 10:11 – Geoffrion (Béliveau, Harvey)
MTL GOAL – 18:11 – M. Richard
TOR GOAL – 18:50 – Sloan (Armstrong, Réaume)

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 00:15 – M. Richard, hooking
TOR PEN – 02:15 – Armstrong, charging
MTL GOAL – 14:54 – Olmstead (Geoffrion)

MTL – Plante (W, 33-35)
TOR – Lumley (L, 34-37)

MTL – 12+15+10 = 37
TOR – 14+10+11 = 35

MTLGoaltenders: Jacques Plante. Defence: Butch Bouchard (C), Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Jean-Guy Talbot, Bob Turner. Forwards: Jean Béliveau, Floyd Curry, Bernie Geoffrion, Jack LeClair, Don Marshall, Dickie Moore, Kenny Mosdell, Bert Olmstead, Claude Provost, Henri Richard, Maurice Richard.
Goaltenders: Harry Lumley. Defence: Hugh Bolton, Bill Burega, Tim Horton, Marc Réaume, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: George Armstrong, Earl Balfour, Dick Duff, Gord Hannigan, Billy Harris, Ron Hurst, Gerry James, Rudy Migay, Eric Nesterenko, Tod Sloan, Sid Smith (C), Ron Stewart.

MTL – 26-11-7 (.670)
TOR – 15-21-7 (.430)