Game 424 – Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 1

Game 424
Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 1
Wednesday, February 15, 1961
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Recent reports that the Montréal Canadiens and goalkeeper Jacques Plante especially were approaching shinny senility failed to find confirmation in the Gardens last night.

The masked Plante was at his acrobatic best as the Canadiens, always most dangerous when cornered, pulled through with a 3-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in a National Hockey League game that provided exciting entertainment for a crowd of 14,416.

Plante, playing only the fourth game in his comeback attempt, made several superlative saves during the first two periods when the hopped-up Leafs threw their most determined assaults at the Canadiens.

His flamboyant puck stopping may have partially obscured the fact that Gerry McNamara, the large fellow who replaced the injured Johnny Bower in the Leafs net, acquitted himself with unusual skill and poise in his first league game.

McNamara stopped 26 shots, Plante 25. The Canadiens scored their clinching goal with little more than a minute left in the game, and McNamara on the bench to press an extra attacker into service.

This was the Leafs’ first loss in their last nine games. They had won seven and tied one of their previous eight. It was also the second time this season the Canadiens had broken an eight game unbeaten string by the Leafs.

The Leafs, who still have hopes of finishing in first place, saw their lead on the reawakening Canadiens shrink to four points. And the second place Canadiens have played two fewer games.

Marcel Bonin, Jean Béliveau and Don Marshall scored for the Canadiens after Dave Keon injured his leg when he tumbled into the boards after scoring and didn’t reappear.

The Leafs had a definite superiority throughout the first two periods, and ordinarily might have scored several more goals. But the cat-like Plante made the difference.

One of his best stops was in the first period, when the Leafs had a 1-0 lead. Bobby Nevin knifed through for a clear shot, but Plante kicked the puck aside.

“That was the indicator right there,” said Ken Reardon, the Canadiens’ vice president. “If Nevin had scored, I doubt we would have caught the Leafs.”

But Plante made other great stops. In the second period, he showed his agility with remarkable stops on Leafs defencemen Larry Hillman and Red Kelly. Hillman blasted two hard shots, each one seemingly screened, but Plante, working out of his customary crouch, caught the puck each time.

Buoyed by this kind of support, the Canadiens gradually took control. They had the upper hand throughout most of the third period, and McNamara had to make several fine stops to keep the Leafs in the game.

McNamara was watching from the bench when the Canadiens scored their third goal into an empty net with 65 seconds left in the game.

Marshall and Larry Regan faced off in the Canadiens end, and the puck was knocked out into the neutral zone with Bonin in bow-legged pursuit. Frank Mahovlich managed to steer Bonin and the puck behind the Leafs’ vacated net, but Bonin threw the puck in front and Marshall scooped it in.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, February 16, 1961

1st Period

TOR GOAL – 04:19 – Keon (Olmstead, Brewer)
MTL GOAL – 15:04 – Bonin (Béliveau, Moore)
TOR PEN – 19:51 – Brewer, holding

2nd Period
MTL PEN – 00:35 – Geoffrion, high sticking
TOR PEN – 04:54 – Shack, roughing
MTL PEN – 04:54 – Moore, holding / roughing double minor
MTL PEN – 07:48 – Turner, hooking
MTL PEN – 16:35 – Béliveau, roughing
TOR PEN – 16:35 – Horton, roughing
MTL GOAL – 19:33 – Béliveau (Talbot, Moore)

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 03:11 – Béliveau
, tripping
MTL EN GOAL – 18:55 – Marshall (Bonin)

MTL – Plante (W, 25-26)
TOR – McNamara (L, 26-28)

MTL – 10+10+9 = 29
TOR – 11+10+5 = 26

MTLGoaltenders: Jacques Plante. Defence: Doug Harvey (C), Tom Johnson, Jean-Guy Talbot, J.C. Tremblay, Bob Turner. Forwards: Ralph Backstrom, Jean Béliveau, Marcel Bonin, Jean-Guy Gendron, Bernie Geoffrion, Phil Goyette, Bill Hicke, Don Marshall, Dickie Moore, Henri Richard.
TORGoaltenders: Gerry McNamara. Defence: Bobby Baun, Carl Brewer, Larry Hillman, Tim Horton, Red Kelly, Allan Stanley. Forwards: Dick Duff, Billy Harris, Dave Keon, John MacMillan, Frank Mahovlich, Bob Nevin, Bert Olmstead, Larry Regan, Eddie Shack, Ron Stewart.

MTL – 30-16-9 (.627)
TOR – 32-16-9 (.640)