Game 459 – Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 1

Game 459
Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 1
Wednesday, November 20, 1963
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

The Montréal Canadiens scored at a goal-a-period pace last night to score their first National Hockey League victory in four starts against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The score was 3-1.

A great performance by the agile Charlie Hodge in the early minutes of the game took the sting out of the Toronto attack, and gave the Canadiens a chance to steady away to a tenacious checking game that had the home side completely disorganized as time was running out.

The Canadiens, who didn’t have their first shot on Johnny Bower until the game was nine minutes and five seconds in the record books, were outshot in the first period 13-3, but took a 1-0 lead into the second period.

Heartened by this unexpected good fortune, the visitors swung into a strong checking pattern and finished with a confident, free skating style. By contrast, the Leafs became frustrated under the checking barrage and deteriorated into a sloppy, loose performance that drew a solid round of boos as the 60 minute bell rang.

The victory broke a second place tie between the teams and dropped the Leafs in third place. The Canadiens have won five and tied two of nine games since Hodge took over the goaling duties from the injured Gump Worsley.

Bill Hicke in the first period, Terry Harper in the second and Dave Balon in the third, fired Montréal’s scoring shots. Dave Keon accounted for Toronto’s goal in the second period.

Johnny Bower, who stopped 26 shots in the final two periods, couldn’t be faulted on any goal. Two were screened shots and the other was a deflection.

Bower made some great saves, particularly in the last five minutes when the Leafs were at their disputed worst, and relaxed their defensive vigilance to the point of ridicule. At one point near the end, Claude Larose and three Leafs were after the puck in front of Bower, and Larose appeared to be winning on points until the puck slid clear.

Hicke’s fourth goal of the season opened the scoring at 15:35. He barely deflected a slap shot from the point by Jacques Laperrière, and Bower’s grab with his left glove managed to hit the puck, which toppled into the goal.

Bower was screened on Harper’s second period shot from barely inside the blueline and in front of the cage. His second goal of the period zipped between Bower and the right post before Johnny could locate it.

Up to that time, the Leafs didn’t deserve an 0-2 count against them, and Keon proved it with the cleanest goal of the game. Little Davey, one of the brighter Leafs on the night, was wheleing to backcheck when he noted Tim Horton had retrieved the puck deep in the Montréal end. Keon quickly changed direction, took up position in front of the goal, and whipped a low shot into the corner when Horton laid the puck on his stick.

The Canadiens, who had been rolling with the punches early in the game, became progressively more aggressive and their third period plays bore the stamp of confidence. Poor clearing by the Leafs set up Balon’s ninth goal, the final score of the night. Ralph Backstrom blocked a clearing pass near the blueline and passed to Balon, who coasted in a few steps, then blasted a high shot to the far side as a moving body obscured Bower’s vision.

The Leafs’ worst hockey of the night followed as they tried to force the issue, but they were out of position, they laid passes on Montréal sticks, and they bumped into each other to spoil plays all over the ice. Their misery didn’t end until the final bell.

NOTES: Hodge, Keon and Balon were selected as the game’s three stars, but only Hodge and Balon skated out for their portion of applause, Keon didn’t appear…”Those so-called experts who called Canadien for fourth of fifth don’t know what they’re talking about,” Keon said after the game. One of them was Keon’s coach Punch Imlach…The Keon-Duff-Armstrong line was the only one to play with authority for the Leafs…Duff was one of the most aggressive Leafs. In the second period he took a roughing penalty with Bryan Watson and a few minutes later he drew a double minor for an altercation with Claude Larose…Bill Hicke was helped off the ice late in the third period after he collided with Bob Nevin. Hicke said he didn’t feel any pain, but his leg collapsed on him. He said he didn’t think he’d miss any games…Imlach indicated after the game that he had no intention of standing pat with his present team. “We’re falling apart and something has to be done about it. There are no untouchables on this team and I’ll move any player from first to last.” He didn’t elaborate, but he said, “I’m not going to panic at this stage, but I’ll be making some moves.”…Frank Mahovlich and Allan Stanley were among the least effective Leafs last night…One minute of silence was observed in memory of Mayor Donald Summerville, who died Tuesday night after participating in a charity hockey game. The Leafs, as a team, will attend the funeral Friday.

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

1st Period

MTL PEN – 00:53 – Talbot, hooking
TOR PEN – 10:35 – Stanley, tripping
TOR PEN – 14:26 – Horton, hooking
MTL PP GOAL – 15:35 – Hicke (Laperrière)
MTL PEN – 18:30 – Laperrière, charging

2nd Period
MTL PEN – 00:49 – Talbot, holding
TOR PEN – 05:25 – Stewart, hooking
MTL PEN – 05:55 – Richard, holding
TOR PEN – 07:57 – Duff, roughing
MTL PEN – 07:57 – Watson, roughing
MTL GOAL – 09:20 – Harper (Berenson)
MTL PEN – 12:22 – Larose, roughing
TOR PEN – 12:22 – Duff, roughing double minor
TOR GOAL – 13:41 – Keon (Horton, Mahovlich)
MTL PEN – 19:50 – Balon, holding

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 03:34 – Backstrom, boarding
MTL GOAL – 13:15 – Balon (Backstrom)

MTL – Hodge (W, 31-32)
TOR – Bower (L, 28-31)

MTLGoaltenders: Charlie Hodge. Defence: Terry Harper, Jacques Laperrière, Jean-Guy Talbot, J.C. Tremblay, Bryan Watson. Forwards: Ralph Backstrom, Dave Balon, Jean Béliveau (C), Red Berenson, John Ferguson, Bill Hicke, Claude Larose, Claude Provost, Henri Richard, Bobby Rousseau.
TORGoaltenders: Johnny Bower. Defence: Bobby Baun, Carl Brewer, Tim Horton, Red Kelly, Allan Stanley. Forwards: George Armstrong (C), Dick Duff, Billy Harris, Dave Keon, Frank Mahovlich, Bob Nevin, Bob Pulford, Eddie Shack, Ron Stewart.

MTL – 8-5-4 (.588)
TOR – 8-6-2 (.563)