Game 433 – Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 1

Game 433
Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 1
Thursday, December 7, 1961
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

The Montréal Canadiens struck for three goals in two minutes and 17 seconds early in the third period to set up a 4-1 National Hockey League victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs here tonight.

The Canadiens, in running their undefeated streak to 10 games, increased their margin to four points over the second place Leafs, who gave a much better effort in this game than the score would suggest.

Ralph Backstrom scored two goals for the Canadiens, with the others going to Don Marshall and Gilles Tremblay. Bobby Pulford, who played a robust, rambunctious game for the Leafs, scored their only goal in the second period.

A crowd of 13,086 saw the Leafs recover from a casual first period to dominate play throughout the second period. And when Pulford scored his goal, with a backhand flip from a sharp angle, the impression was that the Leafs might win their first game of the season in the Forum. They looked that industrious.

But the Canadiens tied the score on a peculiar play with only 23 seconds left in the period. Backstrom, from the Leafs blueline, slapped a shot that goalkeeper Don Simmons stopped with his stick. But Simmons fell forward on his knees, the puck squirmed slowly ahead and inched across the goal line, or so the goal judge ruled.

It appeared from the press box that the puck stopped on the goal line, but none of the Leafs protested. And, if you wish to quibble, the goal judge was about 250 feet closer to the play than anyone in press row.

That goal deflated the Leafs and their demoralization was complete early in the third period, when Ed Shack described a whirlwind rush that carried him, but a circuitous route, to the Montréal goal. But goalkeeper Jacques Plante made a brazen save, and the Canadiens raced right back to score their second goal, by Marshall. The Leafs immediately dropped anchor. The Canadiens scored two goals in 38 seconds, three in 137 seconds.

Marshall broke the tie from a frantic scramble around the Toronto goal. Simmons and defenceman Allan Stanley were each down on the ice when Marshall steered the puck in the nude net.

Backstrom came right back to score his second goal. This time, Leafs defenceman Tim Horton was on his knees in front of Simmons, and Backstrom drove the puck in the open side. Tremblay made it 4-1 cutting in sharply from left wing before firing a shot that hit the left post. Unmolested, he picked up his own rebound and rapped the puck inside the post. Simmons was out in front of the goal crease.

Injuries compelled both teams to go with revised lineups. The Canadiens were minus defencemen Tom Johnson and Lou Fontinato and winger Marcel Bonin, but they had Jean Béliveau in their lineup for the first time this season. They also had defenceman Jacques Laperrière, a junior, on their bench, but he didn’t get on the ice.

The Leafs were without centre Dave Keon, right winger Ron Stewart, and of course, goalie Johnny Bower. For replacements, they had Simmons and centre Alex Faulkner, both of Rochester. Faulkner appeared for only a couple of shifts. Twice in the first period he was bumped hard by Montréal defenceman Al MacNeil.

Simmons, who had a tendency to move a couple of feet out of his net to meet rushes, played an adequate game for the Leafs. Three goals went behind him when he was in front of his crease, but his defence didn’t give him much help. When the Canadiens turned on the pressure, the Leafs’ defence was unable to cope with their flying sorties.

Béliveau, playing his first game of the season, seemed fully recovered, although he made only a few appearances, mainly on power plays.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, December 8, 1961

1st Period

TOR PEN – 03:44 – Pulford, elbowing
MTL PEN – 03:44 – Backstrom, high sticking
TOR PEN – 05:09 – Brewer, tripping
MTL PEN – 09:57 – G. Tremblay, interference
MTL PEN – 17:31 – Béliveau, high sticking

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 08:15 – Pulford (Shack)
TOR PEN – 10:07 – Armstrong, tripping
TOR PEN – 13:22 – Brewer, holding
MTL PEN – 13:22 – Richard, high sticking
TOR PEN – 13:22 – Mahovlich, misconduct
TOR PEN – 14:33 – Armstrong, hooking
MTL GOAL – 19:37 – Backstrom (Marshall)

3rd Period
MTL GOAL – 01:10 – Marshall (Geoffrion, Backstrom)
MTL GOAL – 01:48 – Backstrom (Marshall)
MTL GOAL – 03:27 – G. Tremblay (Rousseau, Hicke)
MTL PEN – 09:22 – J. Tremblay, tripping
MTL PEN – 11:25 – MacNeil, slashing
TOR PEN – 18:43 – Pulford, cross checking
MTL PEN – 19:59 – Geoffrion, high sticking

MTL – Plante (W, 23-24)
TOR – Simmons (L, 26-30)

MTLGoaltenders: Jacques Plante. Defence: Jean Gauthier, Al MacNeil, Jean-Guy Talbot, J.C. Tremblay. Forwards: Ralph Backstrom, Jean Béliveau (C), Bernie Geoffrion, Phil Goyette, Bill Hicke, Don Marshall, Dickie Moore, Claude Provost, Henri Richard, Bobby Rousseau, Gilles Tremblay.
TORGoaltenders: Don Simmons. Defence: Al Arbour, Bobby Baun, Carl Brewer, Tim Horton, Red Kelly, Allan Stanley. Forwards: George Armstrong (C), Dick Duff, Alex Faulkner, Billy Harris, John MacMillan, Frank Mahovlich, Bob Nevin, Bert Olmstead, Bob Pulford, Eddie Shack.

MTL – 14-5-7 (.673)
TOR – 14-8-3 (.620)