Game 363 – Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 2

Game 363
Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 2
Thursday, December 20, 1956
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

The venerable Maurice Richard, who can’t get out of his customary rut of scoring goals, popped in another pair here tonight to lead the poised Montréal Canadiens to a 4-2 win over Toronto’s helter-skelter Maple Leafs.

The Canadiens, who seem to be travelling at full speed for their ordained position of first place in the National Hockey League, moved into a second place tie with the Detroit Red Wings as a result of the win.

Other Montréal goals were scored by Doug Harvey and Claude Provost. Toronto goals were scored by Brian Cullen and Dick Duff.

This was a highly inflammable game from the start, with Montréal’s nomadic goalkeeper, Jacques Plante, increasing the pulse of the 13,577 customers wth his ebullient histrionics.

Plante, in a more fractious mood than usual, drew three minor penalties, and he was rather fortunate that he escaped without a few more. He tripped Tod Sloan in the third period, and later fenced with Sloan. Plante drew a double minor, and Sloan a minor, for that altercation.

The Leafs, on two occasions, had a two player advantage for almost two minutes, but so incredible was their confusion, that the Canadiens didn’t have to extend themselves in defence for one minute and 54 seconds in the third period. With the Canadiens playing four against six, the Leafs zig-zagged furiously around the Montréal net. Few of their shots were on goal, but they certainly lambasted the be-jabbers out of the backboards.

The Canadiens scored two of their goals on power plays, and Richard’s second counter, a picture manoeuvre which only he can execute, came while the Leafs had an extra player.

Those were Richard’s 10th and 11th goals of the season, and his total for his NHL career now is 471.

Bernie Geoffrion, still troubled by an aching elbow, sat this game out for the Canadiens. The Leafs had Rudy Migay back in action.

The Leafs, greatly outplayed for two periods, tried valiantly to get back in the game in the last 20 minutes. Captain Jimmy Thomson, almost indifferent until that time, roused them by ramming several Montréal players. But the Leafs, despite their energy, couldn’t solve Montréal’s tight defence.

As has been the case in their last few games, the Leafs’ best line was again the Cullens and Bobby Pulford. Brian Cullen, in particular, played an outstanding game all the way.

Richard scored his first goal early in the first period, while Leaf Tim Horton was off for interference. A shot fired by Doug Harvey from the blue line him Thomson, the puck glanced off, and Maurice, skating backwards, whipped a backhander past Ed Chadwick.

Brian Cullen tied the score on a long blooper shot, which blooped directly between Plante’s legs, to the accompaniment of jeers from the crowd.

Maurice’s second goal, about six minutes later, was a spectacular one. He checked Jimmy Morrison outside the Leaf blue line, whirled into the Leaf end and rounded Ron Stewart after giving him a baffling fake, and Chadwick never saw the 25-footer that ripped past him. The Canadiens were shorthanded at the time.

Harvey made it 3-1 in the second period, again on a power play. He slapped in a 50-footer. Provost scored his goal on a sharp angle shot, seconds before he was flattened by Horton. His score came a few seconds after the Leafs had a two player advantage for almost two minutes, but without success.

Duff scored his 14th goal of the season in the third period. Ron Hurst cuffed the puck out of the air, and Duff rammed it past Plante. The Canadiens protested, but the officials ignored them.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, December 21, 1956

1st Period

TOR PEN – 04:01 – Horton, interference
MTL PP GOAL – 05:21 – M. Richard (Harvey, Béliveau)
TOR GOAL – 12:34 – Br. Cullen (Réaume)
MTL PEN – 16:52 – Béliveau, holding
MTL GOAL – 18:53 – M. Richard
TOR PEN – 19:53 – Thomson, slashing

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 01:42 – MacNeil, interference
MTL PP GOAL – 02:36 – Harvey (M. Richard, Moore)
MTL PEN – 13:08 – Plante, interference
MTL PEN – 15:24 – Curry, charging
MTL SH GOAL – 15:36 – Provost (LeClair, Pronovost)

3rd Period
TOR GOAL – 00:25 – Hurst
MTL PEN – 01:34 – Plante, interference / high sticking double minor
TOR PEN – 01:34 – Sloan, high sticking
MTL PEN – 03:40 – Olmstead, cross checking

MTL – Plante (W, 20-22)
TOR – Chadwick (L, 23-27)

MTL – 9+9+9 = 27
TOR – 7+7+8 = 22

MTLGoaltenders: Jacques Plante. Defence: Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Dollard Saint-Laurent, Jean-Guy Talbot, Bob Turner. Forwards: Jean Béliveau, Floyd Curry, Jack LeClair, Don Marshall, Dickie Moore, Bert Olmstead, André Pronovost, Claude Provost, Henri Richard, Maurice Richard (C).
Goaltenders: Ed Chadwick. Defence: Tim Horton, Al MacNeil, Jim Morrison, Marc Réaume, Jimmy Thomson (C). Forwards: Barry Cullen, Brian Cullen, Dick Duff, Ron Hurst, Rudy Migay, Mike Nykoluk, Bob Pulford, Tod Sloan, Sid Smith, Ron Stewart.

MTL – 17-11-3 (.597)
TOR – 8-15-7 (.383)