Game 371 – Canadiens 2, Maple Leafs 1

Game 371
Canadiens 2, Maple Leafs 1
Wednesday, March 20, 1957
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Bernie Geoffrion’s 18th goal of the season, with only 30 seconds remaining in the game, gave the Montréal Canadiens a 2-1 win over the relaxed Maple Leafs in the Gardens last night.

Jean Béliveau, whom some misguided individuals contend is in a slump, turned Geoffrion loose with a perfect pass and “The Boomer” went in, unobstructed, to out-shift Ed Chadwick for the winning goal.

Whether it was a case of justice triumphing or not is debatable, but earlier in the period, Béliveau sent Geoffrion away on a similar mission. That time, Chadwick made a remarkable save, only one of several he made during the game.

The Canadiens, who used to observe victories with blasé indifference, erupted emotionally after the winning goal was scored. Dickie Moore almost factured Geoffrion and Jean Béliveau in a muscular embrace.

Perhaps the jubilation was aroused by the fact that the win moved the Canadiens back into second place in the National Hockey League. Or maybe it was an expression of sheer relief that the exuberant Leafs were apparently subdued.

Certainly up until Geoffrion’s goal, the Leafs gave no impression that they would lose. They had the legs, the muscles, the plays, even the shots on goal. But the Canadiens had Béliveau.

The big Habitant set up Don Marshall’s first period goal, which was subsequently equalled by Leaf Bob Pulford in the second period. Béliveau, great offensively and defensively in one of his finest games of the season, set up several other goals that didn’t materialize.

Frank Mahovlich, the highly acclaimed junior from St. Michael’s, made his NHL debut in this game, and the 200 pound centre had the 13,252 fans wondering “where have the Leafs been hiding this guy?”

He played on a line with Sid Smith and Ron Stewart, and also appeared on Leafs power plays. He showed unusual speed, his passes were on target with no guesswork involved, his playmaking was excellent, and nobody knocked him around. Apart from that he was strictly ordinary, the Leafs will probably invite him back.

Mahovlich was only one of several Leafs who stood out in this hard hitting, close checking game. Tim Horton, back on defence, Dick Duff, George Armstrong, Todd Sloan, Bobby Pulford and Bobby Baun played in such energetic fashion that the Canadiens decided early to play with extreme caution. They checked much more closely than is the usual custom for Montréal teams of recent seasons, or maybe they were practicing for the playoffs.

In accord with Conn Smythe’s instructions, the Leafs went with their younger players. Benched were veterans Ted Kennedy and Jimmy Thomson. Also missing was sophomore Gerry James, out with a twisted knee.

Both goalkeepers, Chadwick and acrobatic Jacques Plante, were in superlative form, and they had to be. Chadwick made 24 saves and Plante 28. Two of Chadwick’s better saves were on Maurice Richard.

NOTES: The Canadiens’ power play didn’t terrify the Leafs in this game. Twice in the third period, the Canadiens had a player advantage. On neither occasion did they get a shot on goal…Béliveau’s two assists moved him into second place in the individual scoring race, one point behind Detroit’s Gordie Howe…Henri Richard took a great deal of physical punishment throughout the game. The Leafs, especially Baun, belted him repeatedly…Mahovlich made a smart play in the second period to send Stewart away in the clear, but Plante came through with a big save…The Canadiens close out their schedule in Montréal Saturday night against the Chicago Black Hawks. The Boston Bruins, who now trail the Canadiens by two points, play in Detroit tonight, and at home Saturday night against the New York Rangers.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, March 21, 1957

1st Period

MTL GOAL – 06:22 – Marshall (Béliveau, Harvey)
TOR PEN – 09:59 – Baun, charging
MTL PEN – 18:00 – Saint-Laurent, kneeing
MTL PEN – 19:30 – Harvey, spearing

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 07:53 – Pulford (Br. Cullen, Ba. Cullen)
MTL PEN – 09:04 – Harvey, tripping

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 02:24 – Réaume, holding
TOR PEN – 06:35 – Horton, interference
TOR PEN – 10:01 – Br. Cullen, fighting major
MTL PEN – 10:01 – Talbot, fighting major
MTL PEN – 17:10 – Geoffrion, hooking
MTL GOAL – 19:30 – Geoffrion (Béliveau, Saint-Laurent)

MTL – Plante (W, 28-29)
TOR – Chadwick (L, 24-26)

MTL – 13+5+8 = 26
TOR – 8+15+6 = 29

MTLGoaltenders: Jacques Plante. Defence: Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Dollard Saint-Laurent, Jean-Guy Talbot, Bob Turner. Forwards: Jean Béliveau, Floyd Curry, Bernie Geoffrion, Phil Goyette, Don Marshall, Dickie Moore, André Pronovost, Claude Provost, Henri Richard, Maurice Richard (C).
TORGoaltenders: Ed Chadwick. Defence: Bobby Baun, Tim Horton, Al MacNeil, Jim Morrison, Marc Réaume. Forwards: George Armstrong, Barry Cullen, Brian Cullen, Dick Duff, Frank Mahovlich, Rudy Migay, Bob Pulford, Tod Sloan, Sid Smith, Ron Stewart.

MTL – 34-23-12 (.580)
TOR – 21-32-15 (.419)