Game 378 – Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 4

Game 378
Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 4
Wednesday, December 25, 1957
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Maple Leaf Frank Mahovlich looks like such an overwhelming choice to win the NHL’s rookie of the year election that his opponents are in danger of losing their deposits.

The 200 pound left winger produced his second three goal performance of the season in the Gardens Wednesday night to lead the Leafs to an exciting 5-4 win over the Montréal Canadiens.

Naturally, in a few other constituencies, there is some faltering support for other candidates. But, when you consider Mahovlich’s accomplishments, where is there a better rookie or a better left winger in the league?

His three goal splurge against the Canadiens jumped his total for the season to 15. Only two other players in the league have scored more goals, and Mahovlich has fired 12 goals in his last 11 games – since he was converted from centre to left wing.

A boisterous crowd of 13,176, the noisiest in the Gardens this season, saw the Leafs move back into fourth place, one point ahead of Detroit and one behind the third place Boston Bruins.

Disciples of the old school of hockey might have been appalled at the reckless, fig-for-danger deportment of both teams. Defensive tactics were ignored. It was a rather harrowing experience for both goalkeepers, but, judging by the reaction of the crowd, the hopped-up show was a big hit with them.

Rudy Migay and Bobby Pulford were the Leafs’ other scorers. Bernie Geoffrion, Dickie Moore, Henri Richard and Phil Goyette scored for the Canadiens. And it was obvious with Maurice Richard and Jean Béliveau out that the Canadiens might have to slumming along with the other five teams.

The Leafs were never behind in this game. They had a 2-0 lead by the halfway mark in the first period, but the Canadiens tied the score at 3-3 near the three quarter mark in the second. The Leafs came back with two more and the Canadiens scored the only goal of the third period.

Mahovlich gave the Leafs a lead three times, but the winner, as it turned out, was scored by Migay late in the second period, while the Leafs were shorthanded. His 40-footer squirted past an embarrassed Jacques Plante, who was squatting, waiting for the puck to arrive.

The roving Montréal netminder was also highly agitated on Mahovlich’s second goal in the second period. Plante left his net, and Mahovlich interfered so expertly that he kept Plante from getting back on schedule. So, when Gary Aldcorn shoveled a pass out in front, Plante was so shaken that he managed to make only one stop, and Mahovlich lifted in his own rebound.

Aldcorn, who played right wing on a line with Mahovlich and Billy Harris (a new line), was an excellent performer for the Leafs. He helped set up two of Mahovlich’s goals. Harris’ artistry with the puck was never more evident, and on defence, Ron Stewart gave his usual casual, but skillful, game.

Migay’s winning goal might have been on the freakish side, but there was nothing freakish about his puck control in the third period. He wouldn’t give up the puck at all in the final minute, when the Canadiens were still hungry for a tie. Barry Cullen was another Leaf who played well, but Plante had his number – especially in the third period, when brother Brian sent him in the clear twice.

George Armstrong was back with the Leafs, his first game in a month, but defenceman Tim Horton was advised to rest for another game or two.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, December 27, 1957

1st Period

TOR PEN – 03:51 – Ba. Cullen, high sticking
TOR GOAL – 09:20 – Mahovlich (Stewart, Harris)
MTL PEN – 09:53 – Olmstead, charging
TOR PP GOAL – 10:03 – Pulford (Stewart, Mahovlich)
TOR PEN – 10:31 – Baun, holding
MTL PP GOAL – 11:31 – Geoffrion (Moore, Harvey)
TOR PEN – 13:51 – Mahovlich, hooking

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 05:17 – Mahovlich (Harris, Aldcorn)
MTL GOAL – 05:47 – Moore (Richard, Bonin)
MTL PEN – 09:50 – Talbot, interference
MTL GOAL – 14:34 – Richard (Moore)
TOR GOAL – 15:08 – Mahovlich (Harris, Aldcorn)
TOR PEN – 17:25 – Ba. Cullen, tripping
TOR SH GOAL – 19:22 – Migay (Stewart)

3rd Period
MTL GOAL – 03:34 – Goyette (Provost, Harvey)

TOR – Chadwick (W, 20-24)
MTL – Plante (L, 31-36)

TORGoaltenders: Ed Chadwick. Defence: Bobby Baun, Jim Morrison, Marc Réaume. Forwards: Gary Aldcorn, George Armstrong (C), Barry Cullen, Brian Cullen, Dick Duff, Billy Harris, Paul Masnick, Frank Mahovlich, Rudy Migay, Bob Pulford, Tod Sloan, Ron Stewart.
MTLGoaltenders: Jacques Plante. Defence: Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Dollard Saint-Laurent, Jean-Guy Talbot, Bob Turner. Forwards: Gene Achtymichuk, Marcel Bonin, Bernie Geoffrion, Phil Goyette, Don Marshall, Dickie Moore, Bert Olmstead, André Pronovost, Claude Provost, Henri Richard.

TOR – 12-14-7 (.470)
MTL – 19-8-5 (.672)