Game 403 – Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 1

Game 403
Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 1
Saturday, November 21, 1959
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Goalies Jacques Plante of the Montréal Canadiens and Johnny Bower of the Maple Leafs presented strong advertising for protective facial masks here Saturday night. Plante wore one and Bower should have.

Jumping Johnny was felled and bloodied when struck on the mouth by a deflected puck in the closing seconds of a 4-1 triumph by the Canadiens. The dashing, excitement-laden National Hockey League game served to point up all that goalkeepers should wear masks, and that the magnificent Habitants should be placed in a league all their own.

There were 12 seconds of play remaining when the aging Bower, who hasn’t lost a tooth to spare, lost one and had three others loosened. The puck, shot by Donnie Marshall, also ripped a three stitch gash on the lower lip.

Garry Edmundson, wearing the garb of a forward, guarded the net for the remaining seconds and ran up a shutout in his debut. There wasn’t a shot on goal.

“Every goalie should wear a protective mask,” said Frank Selke, the Canadiens general manager. Plante, nodding approval, noted that his is a permanent thing. Nevermore will fans gaze on his classic features during working hours.

As to the game, there’s no doubt the Flying Frenchmen should have won – although the Leafs weren’t as far behind as the bare score suggests. They had taken over the play and were threatening to tie matters at 2-2 in the third period, before an error by Bower, plus a last minute shot into an empty cage, piled up the margin.

Doug Harvey, Dickie Moore, Jean Béliveau and Marshall counted in that order for the Habitants. Bert Olmstead, superlative against his former mates, set up defenceman Allan Stanley for the Toronto goal that sliced the deficit to 2-1 midway through the thriller. It was a 15 footer on a perfect pass from digger Olmstead.

The second period goals by Harvey and Moore were well earned. But Bower, who had played brilliantly, should have stopped Béliveau’s drive that made it 3 -1 with little more than four minutes of the game remaining. The shot hit Bower’s leg pad and he kicked it in.

Bower had been benched for an extra forward when the Habs broke out of their own end in the final minute. Leaf defenceman Tim Horton attempted to clear the puck up the ice, but it landed on the stick of Marshall. He fired a long one into the empty net. Bower went back to his post – and his facial fate – after that.

The howling gathering of 14,622 – aided by permanent addition of some box seats – was the largest NHL crowd in the Gardens since 16,318 watched the Leafs shut out the Canadiens 3-0 on November 16, 1946. That record was set before the standing room limit was cut. The third largest crowd came on the Canadiens’ last visit here, a midweek game, when 14,571 saw a 1-1 tie. The Canadiens were here on a Saturday night, for one of the few times in the schedule annals, because of an ice show at home.

The brilliant Plante admitted he is bothered a bit by the confining atmosphere of the mask which, from a distance, looked as if he had been hit in the face by a custard pie a la Keystone Cops. It’s somewhat startling close up, perhaps a little gruesome, but “Jake The Snake” doesn’t care.

He first donned it for league action after being cut for stitches in a game at New York early this month. Previously, he had worn it in practices.

“When I take it off, I’ll also take off my skates,” said Plante. “In other words, I’m wearing it from now until I retire.

“During the game someone yelled at me that I was afraid. I’m not afraid. But why should a parachute jumper jump without a parachute to show that he’s not afraid? That would be foolish and he’d be dead. If that puck had been a few inches higher, Bower could have lost an eye. I’m sorry for him, but it makes me feel glad I have the mask.”

NOTES: Leaf Dick Duff took a third period elbow from Béliveau, and retaliated with a swinging stick to Béliveau’s side. Béliveau stepped back and swung a mighty broadside stick blow at Duff. Duff said Béliveau’s stick connected, Béliveau denied it. “It was a warning swing,” said Béliveau. “I don’t hit anybody with a stick.”…It was the Leafs’ first loss at the Gardens this season, after five wins and four ties…It was the Canadiens’ 14th successive game – 11 wins and three ties – without a loss.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, November 23, 1959

1st Period

TOR PEN – 07:33 – Baun, holding
MTL PEN – 08:33 – M. Richard, tripping
MTL PEN – 17:30 – Bonin, fighting major
TOR PEN – 17:30 – Baun, fighting major

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 01:01 – Harvey (H. Richard, Provost)
MTL GOAL – 17:39 – Moore (Bonin)

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 09:47 – Bonin, high sticking
TOR PEN – 09:47 – Baun, high sticking
TOR GOAL – 11:25 – Stanley (Olmstead, Horton)
MTL PEN – 13:10 – Béliveau, slashing
TOR PEN – 13:10 – Duff, slashing
MTL GOAL – 16:54 – Béliveau (Moore)
MTL EN GOAL – 19:15 – Marshall

MTL – Plante (W, 26-27)
TOR – Bower (L, 27-30)

MTL – 10+11+10 = 31
TOR – 6+10+11 = 27

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

MTL – 13-2-4 (.789)
TOR – 8-5-5 (.583)