Playoff Game 29 – Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 2 (OT)

Playoff Game 29
Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 2 (OT)
Stanley Cup Finals, Game 3
Tuesday, April 14, 1959
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

One swift thrust by dynamic Dick Duff at 10:06 of sudden death overtime gave the Maple Leafs a dramatic 3-2 win over the Montréal Canadiens in the third game of the Stanley Cup final in the Gardens last night.

Duff, skating at terrific speed, lashed the puck into the lower left hand corner from about 45 feet out. Canadien nimble goalkeeper Jacques Plante kicked at the shot, but the puck was in the net before he moved.

And, although it appeared to the slightly delirious crowd of 13,121 that the shot had sped unerringly all the way, Duff confessed afterward that the puck had deflected off Montréal defenceman Tom Johnson’s skate. The deflection was only slight, but it was enough to confuse Plante.

This was the Leafs’ first win in the best of seven final, and the series is starting to look like a carbon copy of their semifinal round with the Boston Bruins. The Leafs also lost the first two games of that set, but recovered to tie it with a couple of wins at home, each in overtime and each by a 3-2 score.

The series resumes in the Gardens tomorrow night, and a fifth game will be played in Montréal Saturday.

This was a fast, hard checking game, with the exuberant Leafs being parried most of the way by the poised Canadiens. The Leafs, had their marksmanship been more accurate, could have won easily in regulation time. But their shooting was exceedingly wild.

Both goalkeepers, Plante and the Leafs’ celebrated tumbler, Johnny Bower, distinguished themselves with numerous remarkable saves. The tension was overpowering at times, and the pressure was directly on the goalkeepers, but they seemed oblivious to it.

The Leafs were never behind, but twice the Canadiens fought back to tie the score. Billy Harris and Bert Olmstead scored the earlier goals for the Leafs. Marcel Bonin and Dickie Moore scored for the Canadiens.

Harris gave the Leafs the lead in the first period, but within a minute, Bonin, with his ninth goal of the playoffs, tied the score. Then Olmstead sent the Leafs ahead again in the second period, but Moore tied it again early in the third.

Both teams had close calls in the overtime before Duff wrapped it up for the Leafs. Bonin seemed to have Bower at his mercy once, but he lost control of the puck as he prepared to shoot. And Ron Stewart came within inches of deflecting a shot past Plante.

Canadiens defenceman Doug Harvey, who had set up the winning goals in the first two games of the series, almost did it again with one of his broken field rushes down the ice. But his shot, aimed at the lower left hand corner, was turned aside by Bower.

George Armstrong, who played one of his better games of the playoffs, sent Duff away on his game winning mission. Armstrong banked the puck off the boards, and Duff picked it up near the Toronto blueline. He sped down the middle, skating furiously, and, from a few feet inside the Montréal blueline, he hammered a shot while defencemen Tom Johnson and Jean-Guy Talbot were trying to apply the pincers. The puck skidded off Johnson’s skate and soared into the Montréal net on Plante’s right.

There was a suspicion early in the game that it might develop into a bitter, brawly affair, but the belligerence dissipated in the second period. Referee Eddie Powers refrained from calling any penalties in the third period or overtime.

The crowd growled ominously in the first period when Tim Horton, the Leaf defenceman, was accidentally cut in the face by Bernie Geoffrion’s stick. Horton, momentarily blinded, reeled from the blow, but play continued and the Canadiens came within inches of scoring a goal. Later, Horton required 12 stitches to sew up a rip under his right eye lid.

Olmstead, he of the egg-beater stick, was one of the most impressive Leafs in this game. He fought furiously in the corners, along the boards, whirling and twisting in a manner that must have caused the Canadiens to think they were surrounded.

Both teams were shorthanded late in the first period when Harris opened the scoring for the Leafs. Frank Mahovlich knocked down a pass from Horton at the Montréal blueline, sped in on right wing and drifted a pass in front of the Montréal net. Harris, streaking in from left wing, knocked the puck in the open side before the cat-like Plante could slide across the net.

Bonin executed his specialty, the tip-in shot, to tie the score one minute later. This time, the Leafs had two players in the penalty box, and the Canadiens one.

Geoffrion slapped a shot from the bluelinee, Bonin waved his magic wand and stabbed the puck past Bower. Bonin needs three more goals to equal the playoff record of 12, held jointly by his teammates Jean Béliveau and Maurice Richard.

Olmstead restored the Leafs’ one goal lead late in the second period. Leaf defenceman Bobby Baun, from the right point, slid a pass to Olmstead in the faceoff circle to Plante’s right. Without any hesitation, Olmstead slapped the puck into the far side of the net.

Moore tied the score early in the third period, another of those deflection shots that have added to goalkeepers’ worries lately. He was idling in front of the Toronto net when defenceman Bob Turner fired from the left point. Moore banked the puck into the net.

The Canadiens thought they had scored the winner with 10 seconds of regulation time remaining, when Ralph Backstrom slipped the puck behind Bower. But the play had been called back as offside.

NOTES: Turner, one of the Canadiens’ steadiest performers, pulled up lame in the third period after he collided with Brewer. The Montréal defenceman developed a charley horse in his left thigh, and he is listed as a doubtful starter for the fourth game tomorrow…Maurice Richard, who doesn’t like his inactive role, watched most of the game from the bench. He made only three brief appearances…Dave Creighton spelled Larry Regan occasionally at centre, between Duff and Armstrong.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, April 15, 1959

1st Period

TOR PEN – 01:32 – Duff, high sticking
MTL PEN – 03:59 – Talbot, holding
TOR PEN – 06:02 – Ehman, holding
MTL PEN – 15:41 – Talbot, roughing
TOR PEN – 15:41 – Ehman, roughing
TOR GOAL – 16:29 – Harris (Stanley, Mahovlich)
TOR PEN – 16:38 – Brewer, hooking / cross checking double minor
MTL PP GOAL – 17:31 – Bonin (Harvey, Geoffrion)

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 04:11 – Harris, roughing
MTL PEN – 04:11 – Backstrom, roughing
TOR GOAL – 17:11 – Olmstead (Pulford, Stewart)
MTL PEN – 18:48 – Moore, tripping
TOR PEN – 19:03 – Brewer, holding
MTL PEN – 19:03 – Harvey, holding

3rd Period
MTL GOAL – 01:30 – Moore (Turner, Marshall)

TOR GOAL – 10:06 – Duff (Armstrong)

TOR – Bower (W, 29-31)
MTL – Plante (L, 32-35)

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