Game 421 – Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 1

Game 421
Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 1
Wednesday, December 28, 1960
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

The Montréal Canadiens, without seeming to extend themselves, skated to a 4-1 win over the Maple Leafs in a National Hockey League game at the Gardens last night.

A crowd of 14,718 saw the undermanned Leafs lose their first game in their last eight starts. They had won five and tied two of their previous seven, despite a frustrating series of injures.

The Canadiens took a two goal lead in the first period and extended it to 3-0 early in the second period. Then they seemed to relax their strong skating, concentrating on turning back the energetic, but sometimes misdirected, sorties of the Leafs.

It was ironic t the determined Leafs that they played their best hockey in the third period. Yet the consummate Canadiens, who rarely fritter away a scoring opportunity, scored the only goal of the final period.

Bill Hicke, Guy Gendron, Bernie Geoffrion and Ralph Backstrom were Montréal’s scorers. For Geoffrion, the only one of the Canadiens’ big guns who was prominent in this game, it was his 20th goal of the season.

Ed Shack, who would make a whirling dervish seem stationary with some of his twisting rushes, scored the Leafs goal late in the second period, a goal that was protested by the Canadiens. They contended that Shack had charged Montréal goalkeeper Charlie Hodge.

Frank Mahovlich, the league’s leading scorer with 31, also saw his personal scoring streak interrupted in this game. He had scored at least one goal in each of the Leafs’ seven preceding games. He had only one unobstructed scoring opportunity late in the third period, but fired the puck high over the cowering Hodge.

The Canadiens, who have won 11 of their last 13 games (all with Hodge in goal), moved seven points in front of the second place Leafs with this win.

The Leafs, whose injury toll is diminishing slowly, were without Carl Brewer, Ron Stewart, Larry Regan and Bob Pulford. Bob Turner, a defenceman, was missing from the Canadiens. Doug Harvey, who was reported to be suffering from a shoulder separation, took his regular turn for the Canadiens.

The Leafs defence, which had an exasperating time early in the game trying to hold back the Canadiens’ speedsters, was caught AWOL on the first goal, scored by Hicke. He was uncovered, about 15 feet in front of the Leaf goal, when Marcel Bonin fished the puck out of the corner and tossed him a pass. Hicke drove the puck in the left side of the net, despite a late lunge by goalie Johnny Bower.

Gendron made it 2-0 late in the period. Defenceman Jean Gauthier, a recall from Hull-Ottawa of the Eastern Pro League, lashed a shot that hit the glass behind Bower. The puck bounced back in front, and Gendron poked it into the net.

The Leafs were shorthanded in the second period when Geoffrion scored on his specialty – a long slapper through a tangle of players.

Shack was credited with the Leafs goal late in the period. Hodge caught a high shot fired by Bert Olmstead. Shack cut directly in front of the goal and jostled Hodge. He twisted, almost fell, and dropped the puck into the net.

Later, the Leafs appeared to have another goal when a shot fired by Billy Harris deflected into the Montréal net off Johnny MacMillan’s skate. But referee Frank Udvari ruled that MacMillan had kicked the puck into the net.

The Leafs laid siege to the Montréal goal for a great deal of the third period, but Hodge came through with several fine saves, and at other times the Leafs had trouble controlling the puck.

The Canadiens survived the assault without losing their poise, and came back to score a fourth goal, with Backstrom slamming in a long pass from Guy Talbot.

NOTES: Tom Johnson, a defenceman who has not been having one of his better seasons, played an outstanding game for the Canadiens…Dick Duff, one of the more vigorous Leafs in the third period, missed on two great scoring chances. Once he hit the post, and another time he was hauled down as he was set to shoot…Henri Richard missed an open net, from about three feet out, late in the game. Bower was trapped outside the crease, but Richard’s scoop shot hit the left post. Mortified at his faux pas, he smashed his stick on the ice…Canadien Dickie Moore returned to left wing in this game after spending several weeks on the right side. Hard working Claude Provost patrolled the right lane on a line with Moore and Richard.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, December 29, 1960

1st Period

MTL PEN – 02:35 – Langlois, holding
MTL GOAL – 05:24 – Hicke (Bonin, Backstrom)
MTL PEN – 07:10 – Moore, tripping
TOR PEN – 07:10 – Shack, hooking
MTL PEN – 12:35 – Geoffrion, high sticking
MTL PEN – 15:41 – Geoffrion, slashing
MTL GOAL – 18:49 – Gendron (Geoffrion, Gauthier)

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 04:13 – Stanley, charging
MTL PP GOAL – 05:26 – Geoffrion (Gendron, Moore)
TOR PEN – 10:43 – Olmstead, high sticking
MTL PEN – 10:43 – Gauthier, hooking
MTL PEN – 12:13 – Talbot, interference
TOR GOAL – 17:08 – Shack (Olmstead, Keon)

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 00:12 – Johnson, holding
TOR PEN – 00:12 – Kelly, high sticking
MTL PEN – 08:04 – Provost, tripping
MTL PEN – 11:49 – Gauthier, hooking
TOR PEN – 15:31 – Shack, high sticking
MTL GOAL – 17:54 – Backstrom (Talbot, Hicke)

MTL – Hodge (W, 25-26)
TOR – Bower (L, 23-27)

MTLGoaltenders: Charlie Hodge. Defence: Jean Gauthier, Doug Harvey (C), Tom Johnson, Albert Langlois, Jean-Guy Talbot. Forwards: Ralph Backstrom, Jean Béliveau, Marcel Bonin, Jean-Guy Gendron, Bernie Geoffrion, Bill Hicke, Don Marshall, Dickie Moore, Claude Provost, Henri Richard.
TORGoaltenders: Johnny Bower. Defence: Bobby Baun, Larry Hillman, Tim Horton, Red Kelly, Allan Stanley. Forwards: George Armstrong (C), Dick Duff, Billy Harris, Dave Keon, John MacMillan, Frank Mahovlich, Bob Nevin, Bert Olmstead, Eddie Shack.

MTL – 22-9-4 (.686)
TOR – 17-11-7 (.586)