Game 406 – Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 2

Game 406
Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 2
Wednesday, December 30, 1959
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Guess who outshot and slightly outplayed the Montréal Canadiens in the Gardens last night? The Maple Leafs.

Guess who won? The Canadiens, 3-2.

Who’s going to beat the top running Habitants out of another National Hockey League championship? Nobody, that’s who.

Mind you, this was a tremendous game, and the Leafs might have won it in the early minutes when wandering Jacques Plante in the Montréal cage must have thought there were 20 Leafs on the ice.

But, in the final analysis, it was a case of a little more team slickness, plus Plante, who was terrific. The Canadiens were great, and they were lucky.

Bobby Pulford shot both Toronto goals and Henri “Pocket Rocket” Richard also fired two for the Habs, including the winner. Jean “The Great” Béliveau counted the opening goal on a power play.

The Leafs succumbed while fighting bitterly. The Flying Frenchmen were ahead 3-1 when Doug Harvey left them shorthanded through a penalty in the game’s final seconds. With the faceoff in the Montréal end, the Leafs benched goalie Johnny Bower for an extra attacker.

There was quite a scramble and Plante kicked out a couple of shots before Pulford banged in a rebound from the goal crease. But that was at 19:48, and there wasn’t time to mount another attack.

Tribute to the terrific drawing power of the colourful Canadiens was the roaring crowd of 14,647. It was the largest for a Leaf game since one in November of 1946 – also against the Canadiens – brought out 16,318. That was before the standing room allowance was cut. This season, the Gardens added a few score seats.

Plante played with his somewhat grotesque face mask, but without his pep pill. He had felt recently that, in realizing how fully the mask protected him from broken bones and cuts, he may have unknowingly relaxed somewhat. The pep pills were to maintain tension and he had taken them the last couple of games.

“But I was so hot in practice here the previous day, I felt I didn’t need one this time,” he said after last night’s game.

It was on that previous day that Plante had revealed he was taking the pills. General manager Frank Selke Sr., who hadn’t known, took a rather dim view.

Although there was some suggestion the pills had little more than a psychological content, Selke said he had arranged a meeting with Plante in Montréal next Monday. He added that any artificial stimulation was contrary to team policy.

The chief culprit to the partisan fans last night wasn’t a Canadien – but referee Ed Powers. They howled over some of his calls against the Leafs. They felt he should have penalized the Canadiens more. In the dressing room, the Leafs agreed heartily.

There was a particularly loud roar of derision when Leaf Carl Brewer was assessed an interference penalty in the last minute of the second period. Brewer showed his resentment by using his stick to drop a white towel on the ice from the penalty box. But the officials didn’t see this 10 minute misconduct offence.

As to the scoring, Béliveau opened it in the game’s 12th minute with the Leafs short through a penalty. A shot by Marcel Bonin hit the goal post, and Béliveau swept in majestically to bang in the rebound with Bower down. It was his 21st goal of the season. It also was the 26th goal by the Habs on power plays, and Béliveau has counted six.

The Leafs were also shorthanded when they tied the count after 65 seconds of the middle period. Pulford broke out of his own end on a pass from Ron Stewart. Pulford evaded “Boom Boom” Geoffrion, the only Canadien back, drew out Plante, and fired into the far corner as he went by the side of the cage. It was the seventh time the Canadiens ganging act has backfired.

Less than two minutes later, “The Pocket Rocket” scored on a weak, 25-foot backhander that made Bower blush. Richard’s second goal, with little more than five minutes remaining, was partially stopped by Bower but trickled into the cage.

NOTES: The Leafs face the Red Wings in Detroit tonight, New Year’s Eve…The Leafs hold only one win over the Habs in seven tries this term. The Canadiens have won five and tied one of the six others…It was the fifth win in the last six games for the Habitants, who have lost just six times this season.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, December 31, 1959

1st Period

TOR PEN – 02:32 – Edmundson, charging
MTL PEN – 05:22 – Backstrom, roughing
TOR PEN – 05:22 – Ehman, roughing
TOR PEN – 10:45 – Horton, tripping
MTL PP GOAL – 11:28 – Béliveau (Bonin, Geoffrion)
MTL PEN – 14:55 – Langlois, slashing
TOR PEN – 16:00 – Pulford, charging
MTL PEN – 16:22 – Talbot, high sticking
TOR PEN – 19:25 – team, too many men on the ice

2nd Period
TOR SH GOAL – 01:05 – Pulford (Stewart)
MTL GOAL – 02:53 – Richard
MTL PEN – 06:41 – Langlois, boarding
TOR PEN – 19:42 – Brewer, interference

3rd Period
MTL GOAL – 14:40 – Richard (Bonin, Marshall)
MTL PEN – 19:36 – Harvey, hooking
TOR EA PP GOAL – 19:45 – Pulford (Mahovlich, Wilson)

MTL – Plante (W, 34-36)
TOR – Bower (L, 24-27)

MTL – 8+8+11 = 27
TOR – 11+12+13 = 36

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, Henri Richard.
TORGoaltenders: Johnny Bower. Defence: Bobby Baun, Carl Brewer, Tim Horton, Allan Stanley. Forwards: George Armstrong (C), Dick Duff, Garry Edmundson, Gerry Ehman, Ted Hampson, Billy Harris, Frank Mahovlich, Bob Pulford, Larry Regan, Ron Stewart, Johnny Wilson.

MTL – 22-6-7 (.729)
TOR – 16-12-6 (.559)