Game 356 – Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 1

Game 356
Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 1
Wednesday, February 29, 1956
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Rudy Migay, more renowned as a defensive specialist, scored two goals and narrowly missed a third last night as the Maple Leafs delighted a capacity Gardens crowd of 14,343 by defeating the Montréal Canadiens 4-1.

Also Tod Sloan, after being knocked out in the second period, came back to fire his 36th goal of the season in the third frame. Billy Harris was the other Leaf marksman.

Dickie Moore was the lone Montréal scorer near the three quarter mark of the final period, after the Leafs had built up a 4-0 lead. Moore’s goal came on a Montréal power play.

For the Canadiens, who clinched the National Hockey League championship last weekend, it was their first loss in their last 13 games. So it couldn’t happen to a better team.

The win substantially improved the Leafs’ hopes of holding fourth place, the last port of entry open to the playoffs. They now have a four point bulge on the Boston Bruins, although the Bruins have a game in hand.

There will be some conspiratorial whispers that the success-saturated Canadiens were in a philanthropic mood, that they didn’t exhaust themselves trying to stop the Leafs. But it wasn’t that kind of a hockey game.

The Leafs, who have a habit of producing when least expected, didn’t give the Canadiens an opportunity to break loose. They checked them with a meticulous thoroughness, especially in the Montréal zone, and the Leaf defence showed unusual hostility to tourists.

And the Canadiens weren’t behaving hospitably in the second period, when defenceman Bob Turner ploughed Sloan into the boards so hard that the Leaf breadwinner was kayoed when his head hit the glass.

That incident almost provoked an uprising. George Armstrong immediately knocked Turner to the ice, but he was prevented from further action by the intervention of Doug Harvey. Turner was given a major penalty and Armstrong a minor. Armstrong raised his stick menacingly as he waited for Turner to enter the penalty box, but Harvey again popped on the scene in time.

Turner was a favourite target for the Leafs after that, but there were no further incidents. Maybe Turner was unmoved by the animosity shown him because was partially responsible for the Leafs’ last two goals.

By holding the power-laden Canadiens to one goal, Harry Lumley had reason to gloat. When he returned to the Leafs two weeks ago after being out with an injury, the Habs rammed eight goals past him.

Actually the Leafs checked so resolutely that Lumley wasn’t overworked, although he came through with several BIG saves. The Leafs outshot the Canadiens 30-18.

After a goalless first period, Migay counted his first goal at 8:08 of the second. He deflected Jim Morrison’s drive from the left point during a prolonged Leaf offensive.

Sloan scored his 36th early in the third when the puck detoured off Turner’s leg and past a surprised Jacques Plante. Migay barged past Turner for his second, took his own rebound off Harvey’s shin and drilled a short shot past Plante.

Harris, seemingly cornered by Dollard Saint-Laurent and Claude Provost behind the Montréal net, somehow squirmed loose and looped around in front to bat in the Leafs’ fourth goal.

Hugh Bolton was serving a holding penalty when Moore finally scored the Canadiens’ goal, after Bernie Geoffrion and Henri Richard had made futile swipes at the puck.

NOTES: The Canadiens lost defenceman Tom Johnson in the first period. He was checked by Harris and aggravated a knee injury while falling…Ron Stewart continued his improved play for the Leafs, and Sid Smith showed a few spurts that were reminiscent of last season…Morrison, Jim Thomson, Hugh Bolton and Marc Réaume gave Lumley great protection. And Morrison was one of the Leafs’ best puck carriers…Ron Hurst, who is favouring a badly bruised hand, only made one appearance for the Leafs…Migay grabbed a loose puck in front of the Canadiens’ goal in the second period with nobody near him but, in his anxiety, he couldn’t manoeuvre to shoot. Dick Duff had a similar opportunity earlier, but fired directly into Plante’s pads.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, March 1, 1956

1st Period
MTL PEN – 08:08 – Turner, high sticking

2nd Period
MTL PEN – 07:32 – Turner, boarding major
TOR PEN – 07:32 – Armstrong, charging
TOR GOAL – 08:08 – Migay (Morrison)
MTL PEN – 15:39 – Béliveau, hooking
TOR PEN – 16:51 – Armstrong, slashing
TOR PEN – 19:14 – Morrison, tripping

3rd Period
TOR GOAL – 02:16 – Sloan (Armstrong, Duff)
TOR GOAL – 08:34 – Migay (Morrison, Stewart)
TOR GOAL – 11:14 – Harris
TOR PEN – 14:44 – Bolton, holding
MTL PP GOAL – 14:58 – Moore (H. Richard, Geoffrion)
MTL PEN – 15:50 – M. Richard, hooking
TOR PEN – 19:21 – Armstrong, high sticking

TOR – Lumley (W, 17-18)
MTL – Plante (L, 26-30)

TOR – 11+10+9 = 30
MTL – 5+7+6 = 18

TORGoaltenders: Harry Lumley. Defence: Hugh Bolton, Jim Morrison, Marc Réaume, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: George Armstrong, Brian Cullen, Dick Duff, Gord Hannigan, Billy Harris, Ron Hurst, Gerry James, Rudy Migay, Tod Sloan, Sid Smith (C), Ron Stewart.
MTLGoaltenders: Jacques Plante. Defence: Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Dollard Saint-Laurent, 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.

TOR – 22-31-10 (.429)
MTL – 38-13-10 (.705)