Game 440 – Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 2

Game 440
Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 2
Wednesday, March 14, 1962
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

The Montréal Canadiens insist they are not getting apprehensive about their shrinking National Hockey League lead, despite their emphatic 5-2 loss to the ambitious Maple Leafs in the Gardens last night.

Even in obstinate outposts like Toronto and Chicago, it was conceded weeks ago that the Canadiens had reserved first place for the fifth consecutive season. It wasn’t so long ago that they had a 13 point lead on the second place Leafs.

But the Leafs, in running their undefeated string to nine games (eight wins, one tie) last night, muscled to a mere five points behind the Canadiens. The Leafs have five more games to play, the Canadiens six.

Dave Keon, Bobby Baun, Bob Nevin, Bob Pulford and Ed Litzenberger scored for the Leafs. Gilles Tremblay and Bernie Geoffrion were the Montréal scorers.

For Geoffrion, the goal was the 325th of his NHL career, moving him into fourth place among the league’s leading scorers. Maurice Richard, Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay have scored more goals than Geoffrion in NHL play.

Pulford, the aggressive centreman of the Leafs, reached a more modest plateau with his 17th goal of the season. It was also the 100th he has scored in the NHL.

A crowd of 13,840 saw the Leafs outmanoeuvre the Canadiens with an old Montréal formula, speed and close checking. The Canadiens had a brief 1-0 lead for about two minutes in the first period after scoring with their first shot on goal, but the Leafs quickly overcame that and moved in front.

The Canadiens tied the score at 2-2 early in the second period, but the Leafs were almost in complete control in the final 20 minutes in which they scored two goals.

The Canadiens, who haven’t been able to create an effective power play since Doug Harvey went to New York, missed their greatest opportunity to launch one of their patented blitzes in the second period, when the Leafs played for two minutes with two players in the penalty box. Pulford was already in the box with a major for high sticking Bobby Rousseau when Tim Horton joined him for boarding Ralph Backstrom.

The crowd derided referee Frank Udvari on each penalty. Insisting that Rousseau and Backstrom were exhibiting unheard of thespian talents. But the Canadiens, who used to cause the house lights to dim when they launched their power play, were brazenly held in check by the Leafs without too much distress.

Goalie Don Simmons, subbing for the injured Johnny Bower, made several fine stops. He was alert and capable all through the game.

Simmons has played the last three games, and the Leafs have won all three, and the injured Bower can luxuriate in his convalescence.

The Canadiens were without Henri Richard and Don Marshall, two of their more accomplished playmakers, and they were conspicuous in their absence. Richard it out for the season with a broken arm. Marshall, suffering from a groin injury, might have played, but the Canadiens preferred to rest him in the hope that he will be stronger for the playoffs.

Gilles Tremblay scored for the Canadiens 32 seconds after the game started. Rousseau relieved Leaf Red Kelly of the puck and tossed it to Tremblay, who sped in on left wing and rifled a shot past Simmons.

Keon, who was at his bobbing and weaving best for the Leafs, tied the score for the Leafs in little more than two minutes. Because it occurred during a Montréal power play, it was a great morale booster for the Leafs.

Keon scored on a breakaway. Geoffrion was at Keon’s altitude at centre ice, but he could not stay with him. The Leafs’ lithe centre left him behind, cut directly across the Montréal goal from the right and, after seemingly passing his target, flipped the puck over Montréal’s fallen goalie, Jacques Plante.

Baun gave the Leafs the lead about nine minutes later, when his long shot from the right point skipped past Plante.

Geoffrion tied the score early in the second period, his 21st of the season. Parked directly in front of the Leafs goal, he was in a fine position to hammer Bill Hicke’s lateral into the Toronto net.

Nevin, who has regained his scoring touch in the past few games, restored the Leafs’ lead. Montréal defenceman Lou Fontinato had the puck knocked off his stick by Litzenberger, and Nevin drove it into the net.

In the third period, Pulford scored his 17th goal of the season after getting a Litzenberger pass from behind the Montréal net. Litzenberger scored one of his own, his 18th of the season, on a power play near the midway mark of the period.

NOTES: Leaf defenceman Carl Brewer almost provoked a scuffle after the game was over, when he made a few gestures at Rousseau and later shoved Jean Béliveau in the face. This was a carry-over from one of the final plays of the game, when Rousseau, darting in on the Leafs defence, speared Brewer…Rousseau was cut near the left eye in the second period by Pulford’s stick. Pulford was given a major penalty…The Leafs meet the Canadiens once more before the schedule closes, in Montréal next Thursday.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, March 15, 1962

1st Period

MTL GOAL – 00:32 – G. Tremblay (Rousseau, Johnson)
TOR PEN – 01:13 – Pulford, elbowing
TOR SH GOAL – 02:59 – Keon (Armstrong)
MTL PEN – 07:31 – Béliveau, charging
TOR GOAL – 12:00 – Baun (Keon)

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 03:22 – Geoffrion (Backstrom, Hicke)
TOR GOAL – 06:36 – Nevin (Litzenberger)
TOR PEN – 07:52 – Pulford, high sticking major
TOR PEN – 09:29 – Horton, boarding
MTL PEN – 11:59 – Moore, slashing

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 01:22 – Béliveau, tripping
TOR GOAL – 04:30 – Pulford (Litzenberger, Nevin)
MTL PEN – 10:15 – Fontinato, high sticking
TOR PP GOAL – 10:39 – Litzenberger (Pulford, Nevin)
MTL PEN – 11:33 – Talbot, tripping
TOR PEN – 18:32 – Mahovlich, high sticking
MTL PEN – 18:32 – MacNeil, holding

TOR – Simmons (W, 34-36)
MTL – Plante (L, 32-37)

TOR – 13+13+11 = 37
MTL – 14+15+7 = 36

TORGoaltenders: Don Simmons. Defence: Al Arbour, Bobby Baun, Carl Brewer, Tim Horton, Red Kelly, Allan Stanley. Forwards: George Armstrong (C), Dick Duff, Dave Keon, Ed Litzenberger, Frank Mahovlich, Bob Nevin, Bob Pulford, Eddie Shack, Ron Stewart.
MTLGoaltenders: Jacques Plante. Defence: Lou Fontinato, Tom Johnson, Al MacNeil, Jean-Guy Talbot, J.C. Tremblay. Forwards: Ralph Backstrom, Jean Béliveau (C), Billy Carter, Bernie Geoffrion, Phil Goyette, Bill Hicke, Dickie Moore, Claude Provost, Bobby Rousseau, Gilles Tremblay.

TOR – 37-19-9 (.638)
MTL – 37-13-14 (.688)