Game 404 – Maple Leafs 1, Canadiens 0

Game 404
Maple Leafs 1, Canadiens 0
Wednesday, December 2, 1959
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

The Montréal Canadiens, undefeated for 18 games, finally capitulated in the Gardens last night when the resourceful Maple Leafs whipped them 1-0 in a National Hockey League spectacular.

Frank Mahovlich, the brooding left wing genius who had been accused of indifferent play by his leader, George Imlach, in recent games, reacted a la Merriwell by scoring the only goal of the game in the first period.

Then the aroused Leafs, with incredible poise, demoralized the proud Canadiens with an infuriating defensive-offensive game that was as efficient as the Canadiens have faced in years. It was so efficient that the Leafs had the puck most of the time, and the exasperated Canadiens were scrambling for possession.

A Gardens record crowd of 14,632 sometimes gave the impression that this was the greatest hockey game of all time. The official applause metre recorded extreme right for most of the third period.

Then, with about 10 seconds to go and the Leafs assured of victory, the crowd erupted in a tremendous, pulsating outburst that crashed and rebounded in every corner of the building. The din continued for about a minute. The Stanley Cup winners have seldom been applauded so vociferously in the Gardens.

The near delirium was, naturally, inspired by a superb game, and principally by the intense devotion of the Leafs to their duties. The Canadiens, who normally flout their superiority, in outrageous fashion, were thoroughly outplayed in this one, and some of them were rather petulant at the turnabout.

Referee Eddie Powers imposed only three penalties – in the first period – and then slammed his crime book for the night. He chose to overlook a great deal of clutching, grabbing and assorted minor infractions for the next two periods. It was apparent that the aggrieved Canadiens were guilty most of the time.

But this was only the third loss in 24 games for the Stanley Cup champions, and perhaps they were entitled to be a trifle testy. They lost their last game back on October 17 in Montréal when the New York Rangers upset them 4-2. Enraged by that loss, they ran up an 18 game undefeated streak, and they had won eight in a row before last night’s game.

Leafs goalkeeper Johnny Bower spurned 28 shots in collecting his second shutout of the season. He made his more conspicuous stops in the third period, when the Canadiens had their better scoring opportunities. But the masked man in the Canadiens net, Jacques Plante, was compelled to make many more difficult stops.

The Canadiens had a few forays in the Leafs zone, but the Leafs forced the play in all three periods. They would have won by a more impressive margin, but for Plante’s adagio acts and the great defensive play of Doug Harvey and Tom Johnson. Plante personally stopped 29 shots and Harvey must have stopped almost as many, deflecting many of them into the crowd.

The Canadiens made a last, futile attempt to try for a tie. Plante’s pursuits after the puck had been gradually becoming more lengthy, and coach Toe Blake finally removed him with about 43 seconds remaining. But the Leafs continued to control the puck during the dying seconds.

For the Leafs, who have been quietly compiling an impressive record of their own, it was their fifth successive game without a loss. They have won four and tied one of their last five games. Their win consolidated their second place position, eight points behind the Canadiens.

It was defenceman Marc Réaume, a replacement for the injured Bobby Baun, who made the play for the game’s only goal. He took a pass from Gerry Ehman at the left point and hammered a shot at Plante. The Masked One sprawled in kicking out the puck, Mahovlich wheeled and backhanded it into the net.

NOTES: Mahovlich made several other fine plays during the game that might have resulted in goals but for Plante’s outstanding play…George Armstrong and that inexhaustible rookie, Ted Hampson, were other prominent performers in a game in which all players tried, and some succeeded, to excel…The Leafs defence of Allan Stanley, Tim Horton, Carl Brewer and Réaume have seldom been more authoritative in their checking…Brewer, who dealt several punishing body checks, flew head first over Plante in the third period when the Montréal goalie crouched to avoid a level crossing crash. There was a brief moment of silence when it was doubtful if Brewer would arise, but he jumped to his feet just as if it had been a casual brush…Leaf Larry Regan required four stitches to close a wound over his right eye after he was boarded by Claude Provost in the first period. Provost received a major for charging in this altercation…Imlach, who predicted the Leafs would stop the Canadiens, had one comment after the game: “I’m glad it’s over.” Asked a couple of days ago if he planned to bench Mahvolich he replied, “Why should I bench him now? I need him to beat the Canadiens.”

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, December 3, 1959

1st Period

MTL PEN – 02:24 – Provost, charging major
TOR PEN – 04:02 – Pulford, charging
TOR GOAL – 08:23 – Mahovlich (Réaume, Ehman)
TOR PEN – 11:42 – Regan, charging

2nd Period

3rd Period

TOR – Bower (W + SO, 28-28)
MTL – Plante (L, 29-30)

TOR – 7+12+11 = 30
MTL – 6+12+10 = 28

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

TOR – 12-5-6 (.652)
MTL – 17-3-4 (.792)