Game 426 – Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 1

Game 426
Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 1
Wednesday, March 1, 1961
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

The Maple Leafs scored an emphatic 3-1 win over the Montréal Canadiens in the Gardens last night, and in the process, the Leafs created the indelible impression that nobody is going to knock them out of first place.

Ron Stewart, a versatile right winger who performs numerous useful chores for the Leafs, scored two of their goals. He missed a third by inches late in the third period, when he bounced a shot off a goalpost.

Frank Mahovlich, with his 46th goal of the season, scored the Leafs’ other goal. Bernie Geoffrion, the league’s leading point getter, scored his 41st of the season for the Canadiens in the third period. The Leafs were leading 3-0 at the time.

The Leafs thus lengthened their latest unbeaten string to four games, three wins and a tie. Two of those wins have been over the Canadiens. And the Leafs now have a four point lead on the second place Montréal team.

Leafs goalkeeper Cesare Maniago, playing his third game in the National Hockey League, received an ear splitting ovation from the crowd of 14,384 at the end of the game for his fine play. In three games, Maniago has allowed only four goals.

Maniago made several flamboyant stops throughout the game, but it was Jacques Plante, the masked Montréal goaltender, who executed the most difficult saves. On the play, the Leafs should have had three or four more goals, but they were thwarted by Plante alone.

The Leafs have seven more games to play, and the Canadiens eight, before the schedule ends. It may be a trifle early to start speculating, but the disillusioned Canadiens, if their play of last night is an indication, won’t catch the Leafs.

The Leafs outskated them, outchecked them, outbumped them and generally outmanoeuvred them most of the time.

The once proud Canadiens were so disturbed in the second period that they stumbled around in confusion, sometimes running into one another. They were even penalized for having too many players on the ice. That used to be a patented Leaf play.

The Canadiens were minus two of their better workmen in Dickie Moore and Claude Provost, but they couldn’t use that as an excuse. The Leafs didn’t have Bob Pulford, George Armstrong and Larry Regan. Also, one Johnny Bower (remember him?) was watching from the seats. He must be wondering if he should apply for unemployment insurance.

The Canadiens applied their big push in the first period, but the Leafs refused to yield and for the final 40 minutes, it was the Leafs who did the chasing. Maniago, in the first period, made great stops on Ralph Backstrom, Jean Béliveau and Don Marshall, and that might have deflate the Montréalers.

Mahovlich, who had been cruising up until that point, detonated the first explosion from the crowd with his goal early in the second period. Plante had smothered one of his shots a few seconds earlier.

This time, Bob Nevin, who played an alert game all the way, dropped a pass in the Montréal zone, Mahovlich picked up the puck and drove an inhumane shot into the far side of the net from about 30 feet out.

Stewart made it 2-0 when he picked up Johnny MacMillan’s forward pass and coasted in, unchecked, from right wing to lob a backhander over the fallen Plante. MacMillan’s pass deflected off Montréal defenceman J.C. Tremblay’s stick and directly to Stewart.

Stewart scored his second goal shortly after the third period started from a faceoff in the Montréal zone. Dave Keon won a faceoff from Jean Béliveau, passed to Stewart, who shot and then raced in to cash his own rebound.

There were two Toronto players and one Montréaler in the penalty box when Geoffrion scored the Canadiens’ only goal. His slap shot from the right point hit Leaf defenceman Carl Brewer, and the puck did a slow roll between the crouching Maniago’s legs into the net.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, March 2, 1961

1st Period

TOR PEN – 05:10 – Stanley, holding
MTL PEN – 08:35 – Talbot, cross checking

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 03:28 – Mahovlich (Nevin, Kelly)
TOR GOAL – 15:43 – Stewart (MacMillan, Baun)
MTL PEN – 18:15 – team, too many men on the ice

3rd Period
TOR GOAL – 01:00 – Stewart (Keon)
TOR PEN – 03:00 – Harris, hooking
MTL PP GOAL – 03:38 – Geoffrion (J. Tremblay, Marshall)
MTL PEN – 03:42 – Béliveau, roughing
TOR PEN – 03:42 – Hillman, roughing
MTL PEN – 06:25 – Gendron, holding + misconduct

TOR – Maniago (W, 29-30)
MTL – Plante (L, 31-34)

TOR – 12+13+9 = 34
MTL – 6+13+11 = 30

TORGoaltenders: Cesare Maniago. 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, Eddie Shack, Ron Stewart.
MTLGoaltenders: Jacques Plante. Defence: Doug Harvey (C), Tom Johnson, Albert Langlois, 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, Cliff Pennington, Henri Richard, Gilles Tremblay.

TOR – 36-17-10 (.651)
MTL – 34-18-10 (.629)