50 Years Ago in Hockey: Habs, Wings Battle to Draw

The Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings battled to a 2-2 tie in the only National Hockey League game scheduled last night. With the Stanley Cup champions taking only one of a possible four points this weekend, already questions of “What’s wrong with the Habs?” are beginning to surface.

The game was actually more of a struggle than a battle – that is, a struggle to score goals. The teams were frustrated offensively through two scoreless periods and nearly 12 minutes of the third before a wild finish that saw four goals get past the goalkeepers.

Detroit held the advantage territorially through the first 40 minutes, out shooting Montreal by a 22-17 margin. However the defensive units for both squads kept the good scoring chances to a minimum and many of the drives came from long range.

Roberts Opens Scoring

Jim Roberts
Jim Roberts

Charlie Hodge was in goal for Canadiens, with Roger Crozier was once again the starter for the Red Wings. Both goaltenders put in sparkling performances.

Jim Roberts gave Montreal a 1-0 lead at 11:47 of the final frame with a short-handed goal on a breakaway. Jean Beliveau was in the penalty box for Montreal at the time.

A little less than three minutes later, Red Wings’ Andy Bathgate tied it up. That was a power play marker with Jacques Laperriere off for holding.

That tie lasted only 30 seconds. Dick Duff grabbed a loose puck on a dump-in and fed Beliveau, who was robbed by Crozier with a tremendous stop. Unfortunately for Crozier and the Wings, Bobby Rousseau was there to bang in the rebound.

Henderson Nets Tying Goal

With less than three minutes to play, young Paul Henderson scored the tying goal. Like Rousseau, Henderson connected from short range off a rebound. Hodge had made a fine save on a Bruce MacGregor shot but was unable to control the rebound. Henderson put the loose puck into the net. He described the play afterwards:

“I was trying to screen Hodge on Bruce’s shot but he made a great save. Then I knocked the rebound through his legs as one of their defensemen knocked me down.”

Paul Henderson scores the tying goal late in the third period.
Paul Henderson scores the tying goal late in the third period.

Crozier made 26 saves on the night, a vast improvement over his game against the Habs on opening night, when he surrendered eight to the Canadiens. His best work came at the expense of Roberts, Duff and John Ferguson.

Hodge was making his first start of the season after relieving an injured Gump Worsley the previous night against Chicago. Hodge got in front of 29 Detroit drives. He was best on a breakaway chance by Alex Delvecchio and three difficult tries by Gordie Howe.

Carl Wetzel, former Red Wing farm hand, was dressed as the backup netminder for Montreal. He was called up from Houston of the CPHL when Worsley’s injured elbow prevented him from making the trip to Detroit. His status for games this week won’t be known until later today or tomorrow.

Tampering Decision to Come Soon

Clarence Campbell, president of the National Hockey League, says he hopes to have a decision later this week on the tampering complaint filed by the Montreal Canadiens against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The complaint stems from a reported five-year contract offer made by Toronto to retired Canadiens star Bernie Geoffrion. Geoffrion says he was given the offer to return to the NHL as a player for the Maple Leafs. He also told Campbell that he never took the offer seriously.

Geoffrion is now the coach of the Quebec Aces of the American Hockey League.

Campbell was in Toronto Saturday to investigate the complaint.

“I’m going to try desperately to get this thing finished before I go to Chicago, which would be Wednesday. Otherwise it will be Friday at the earliest.”

Campbell gave no hint of what action, if any, he would take against the Leafs if they are found to have acted improperly with Geoffrion. The minimum fine for tampering is $1,000 with the maximum being double that.           

Toronto president Stafford Smythe says that he expects a decision by Wednesday.

“I expect to have a decision before Wednesday, and I know what the decision will be. We’ll get nicked for a $2,000 fine.”