Game 396 – Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 2

Game 396
Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 2
Wednesday, February 25, 1959
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

The Maple Leafs executed one of their most stirring comebacks of the National Hockey League season in the Gardens last night, as they hurdled from behind to defeat the Montréal Canadiens 3-2.

The Leafs were behind 2-0 after a puny, pallid first period, and a crowd of 13,542 had already conceded the first place Canadiens another win. The only questioned seemed to be, by how much?

But the unpredictable Leafs, despite the demoralizing disadvantage of a double penalty, reformed incredibly in the second period, scored three goals and completely disillusioned the Stanley Cup champions with one of the liveliest periods of hockey in the Gardens in months.

The reformation of the Leafs was almost startling to see. They skated furiously, checked strongly and ran through artistic passing plays as calmly as if it was old stuff for them. The Canadiens were probably overcome by shock.

Frank Mahovlich, Bert Olmstead and Gerry Ehman scored the Toronto goals in an eight minute span in the second period. Phil Goyette and Jean Béliveau, with his 30th goal of the season, scored for the Canadiens in the first period.

Ehman, a player manager-coach George Imlach has steadfastly insisted is a fast gun, played his finest game as a Leaf. He had a major role in the second period heroics. Ehman, Mahovlich and Billy Harris formed a line that caused the Canadiens acute embarrassment, as they tried to locate a puck that seemed to be going in several directions at once.

The win moved the Leafs into a fifth place tie with the Detroit Red Wings, not much of a promotion since fourth place is their objective. And they remained seven points out of that playoff station, because the New York Rangers won their game over Detroit in New York.

Dickie Moore, the Canadiens’ high scoring left winger, also lost his lead in the scoring race. He assisted on one Montréal goal, but Andy Bathgate had a splurge in New York and jumped back in front – one point ahead of Moore.

The Leafs, who have been in last place for most of the season, might derive some consolation from their success with the mighty Canadiens. The Leafs have won four of their last five games with the Stanley Cup holders.

They gave no indication they were going to win in the first period last night. Goyette swooped in close early in the first period to ram the first puck behind Leafs goaler Ed Chadwick. Late in the period Béliveau, about 12 feet in front of the net, hammered his own rebound past Chadwick.

Then at 19:51, Bobby Pulford of the Leafs was penalized for high sticking, and seven seconds later teammate Ron Stewart joined him in the penalty box – for elbowing. So the Leafs, whose play up until that point had been on the pathetic side, faced the chilling prospect of playing four against six for the first minute and 51 seconds of the second period.

But the Leafs, with superlative checking by Carl Brewer, Larry Regan, Allan Stanley and Tim Horton, and a few key saves by Chadwick, hurled back the Canadiens’ power play. And, in the process, Brewer had a breakaway but Jacques Plante, the Canadiens’ roaming netminder, steered Brewer’s shot into a corner of the rink.

Back at full strength, the revived Leafs tore at the Canadiens, and at 4:23 Mahovlich was credited with the first Toronto goal. But it was Ehman who banked it into the net off Mahovlich’s leg.

Olmstead tied the score three minutes later – on a Leafs power play. It was set up on a crisp passing play, with Mahovlich snapping the puck to Ehman, and Ehman relayed it to Olmstead, who was cruising near the Canadiens’ right goal post. Olmstead cuffed the puck in the open side before the cat-like Plante could cover.

A similar passing play set up the winning goal by Ehman about five minutes later. It was Harris to Mahovlich to Ehman, with Ehman arriving at the precise moment to tuck the puck in the open side.

NOTES: Moore golfed a puck past Chadwick in the third period, but referee Dalt McArthur ruled that Moore had his stick above his shoulder when he hit the puck…Brewer, who seems to be developing a hard shot, forced Plante to make some of his more agile saves with accurate slap shots…Canadiens coach Toe Blake benched defenceman Bob Turner for most of the last two periods. Ian Cushenan, who has rarely moved off the bench lately, replaced Turner…The Leafs outshot the Canadiens 35-24. Even in the first period when the Canadiens outplayed them, the Leafs had nine shots on goal – the same number as the Canadiens.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, February 26, 1959

1st Period

MTL GOAL – 04:17 – Goyette (Provost, Pronovost)
MTL PEN – 05:50 – Johnson, holding
MTL GOAL – 19:16 – Béliveau (Johnson, Moore)
TOR PEN – 19:51 – Pulford, high sticking
TOR PEN – 19:58 – Stewart, elbowing

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 04:23 – Mahovlich (Ehman, Harris)
MTL PEN – 05:09 – McDonald, tripping
TOR PP GOAL – 07:02 – Olmstead (Ehman, Mahovlich)
TOR GOAL – 12:06 – Ehman (Harris, Mahovlich)

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 17:11 – McDonald, high sticking
TOR PEN – 17:11 – Armstrong, high sticking
MTL PEN – 19:04 – Pronovost, tripping
TOR PEN – 19:27 – Duff, holding

TOR – Chadwick (W, 26-28)
MTL – Plante (L, 28-31)

TORGoaltenders: Ed Chadwick. Defence: Bobby Baun, Carl Brewer, Tim Horton, Noel Price, Marc Réaume, Allan Stanley. Forwards: George Armstrong (C), Brian Cullen, Dick Duff, Gerry Ehman, Billy Harris, Frank Mahovlich, Bert Olmstead, Bob Pulford, Larry Regan, Ron Stewart.
MTLGoaltenders: Jacques Plante. Defence: Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Albert Langlois, Jean-Guy Talbot, Bob Turner. Forwards: Ralph Backstrom, Jean Béliveau, Marcel Bonin, Bernie Geoffrion, Phil Goyette, Don Marshall, Ab McDonald, Dickie Moore, André Pronovost, Claude Provost.

TOR – 20-28-10 (.431)
MTL – 32-15-12 (.644)