Game 453 – Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 1

Game 453
Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 1
Wednesday, February 20, 1963
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Johnny Bower’s superlative goaltending, plus a two-goal thrust by Bobby Pulford, enabled the Toronto Maple Leafs to regain second place in the National Hockey League last night.

This combination produced a 2-1 win over the Montréal Canadiens at the Gardens, and also eased the Canadiens back into third place, one point behind the Leafs.

A crowd of 14,199 saw a fast, hard checking game in which elbows, high sticks and other refinements were prominent. The scoring was confined to the second period. For the rest of the game, it was a duel between rival goalkeepers Bower and Jacques Plante, the ailing masked man of the Canadiens.

Plante, despite an aching pelvis bone that rattles when he rolls, leaped, glided and dived with his customary agility. It was a skillful exhibition but, in this instance, it went for naught, because the Leafs’ venerable Bower was better, much better.

The Canadiens, traveling at high speed throughout the game, outshot the Leafs 37-30 and fired many from close range. Bower, who hasn’t performed such crazy calisthenics in 40 years of goalkeeping, defied them all the way, except for one occasion when Moore lobbed the puck past him on a power play.

Moore’s goal, his 16th of the season, tied the score for the Canadiens, but it lasted for only two minutes. Pulford, a powerful, aggressive skater throughout the game, came back to score his second goal of the game. Pulford now has 14 goals for the season.

Frank Mahovlich, the Leafs’ leading scorer, was injured in the second period, but the extent of his injury won’t be known until later today. It was originally diagnosed as a charley horse in his left thigh. He was taken to hospital for examination.

Mahovlich, whose hurtling rushes had aroused the crowd in the early part of the game, was injured in the second period when he was spun by Montréal defenceman Jean Gauthier. Mahovlich skated directly off the ice and to the dressing room. He didn’t reappear.

This upset a unique experiment that was being conducted by Leafs manager-coach George Imlach. He had installed Carl Brewer, an irascible defenceman, at left wing on a line with Pulford and Bobby Nevin to start the game.

But after defenceman Kent Douglas was injured in the first period, he had to revert to a more conventional lineup. Douglas, who injured a shoulder, sat out the second period and appeared for a couple of shifts in the third.

Brewer, as a left winger and as a defenceman, managed to infuriate all the Canadiens with his aggressiveness, especially after he rammed Jean Béliveau into a steel support that keeps the glass along the boards in place. Béliveau was dazed by the bump; he appeared to make a quick recovery, but his conduct was unimpressive for the rest of the game. He might have been a 98 pound weakling for all the respect he received from the Leafs. He was rammed and reefed on several occasions.

After a goalless first period, in which close checking prevailed, Pulford scored for the Leafs halfway through the second. Allan Stanley’s shot from the left point was deflected in front by Nevin, and Pulford rammed the puck past Plante with a swift stroke.

Moore tied the score five minutes later on a rush with Claude Provost. Moore passed the puck to Provost, but Bower made a great stop on his shot. Moore, who had skated past the Toronto net, came back to recover the puck and he fired it past the prone Bower.

Pulford scored the winner with a rush down left wing. It appeared that he had skated too far in the corner to direct a shot on goal, but the puck hit Plante’s right pad and squirmed between the pad and the near post into the net.

Both teams had many scoring opportunities, preceding those goals and afterwards. But Plante and Bower kept topping each other with fine saves.

The Canadiens removed Plante with 58 seconds left in the game tos et up the usual flamboyant finish, and it almost worked for them. Bill Hicke, who had been foiled earlier by one of Bower’s more brazen stops, was frustrated again when Bower, from a boiling melee a few feet in front of him, moved at the precise second to block Hicke’s shot.

Plante had to return to his goal with 23 seconds left in the game when Bobby Rousseau, of the Canadiens, was penalized for hooking Red Kelly.

The Canadiens, who were without Henri Richard, Gilles Tremblay and Phil Goyette, called up Bill McCreary from Hull-Ottawa of the Eastern Professional League. Also on hand was Gerry Brisson, elevated four games ago from Spokane of the Pacific Coast League.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, February 21, 1963

1st Period

MTL PEN – 02:54 – Moore, holding
TOR PEN – 07:06 – Brewer, high sticking
TOR PEN – 12:06 – Baun, holding

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 09:21 – Pulford (Nevin, Stanley)
TOR PEN – 11:38 – Brewer, hooking
MTL PP GOAL – 12:14 – Moore (Provost, Backstrom)
TOR GOAL – 14:17 – Pulford (Litzenberger, Nevin)

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 00:58 – Geoffrion, high sticking
TOR PEN – 06:06 – Brewer, holding
MTL PEN – 06:17 – Provost, hooking
TOR PEN – 08:09 – Stewart, elbowing
MTL PEN – 14:10 – Fontinato, spearing
MTL PEN – 19:36 – Rousseau, hooking

TOR – Bower (W, 36-37)
MTL – Plante (L, 28-30)

TOR – 7+11+12 = 30
MTL – 11+14+12 = 37

TORGoaltenders: Johnny Bower. Defence: Bobby Baun, Carl Brewer, Kent Douglas, Tim Horton, Red Kelly, Allan Stanley. Forwards: George Armstrong (C), Dick Duff, Billy Harris, Dave Keon, Ed Litzenberger, Frank Mahovlich, Bob Nevin, Bob Pulford, Eddie Shack, Ron Stewart.
MTLGoaltenders: Jacques Plante. Defence: Lou Fontinato, Jean Gauthier, Tom Johnson, Jean-Guy Talbot, J.C. Tremblay. Forwards: Ralph Backstrom, Jean Béliveau (C), Gerry Brisson, Bernie Geoffrion, Bill Hicke, Don Marshall, Bill McCreary Sr., Dickie Moore, Claude Provost, Bobby Rousseau.

TOR – 28-20-9 (.570)
MTL – 23-16-18 (.561)