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Grand moments

November 1st, 1959
PLANTE AND HIS MASK
On November 1, 1959, at Madison Square Garden , Jacques Plante gave hockey a a facelift when, three minutes into the game, he was struck in the face by a shot off the stick of Rangers forward Andy Bathgate.

Bleeding profusely, Plante retreated to the dressing room where it took seven stitches to close the gash on the left side of his nose. Meanwhile, Canadiens coach Toe Blake went looking for a substitute to replace his star Goaltender for the rest of the evening. Plante, who had already worn a fibreglass mask in practice, managed to convince Blake to let him use it to finish the game.

Twenty minutes after leaving the ice, Plante returned to an ovation from New York fans, taking his place between the pipes wearing his self-fashioned facial protector. With his teammates giving him a three-goal cushion, Plante turned aside 27 of the 28 shots the Rangers sent his way, with Camille Henry spoiling the shutout bid.

The 3-1 win was only the beginning for hockey’s newly masked man. Over his next 10 outings, Plante, who would never play barefaced again, backstopped the Habs to a 9-0-1 record, posting two shutouts and allowing only a dozen goals before suffering his first setback wearing the mask, a 1-0 loss to Toronto on December 2.

One by one, goaltenders throughout the hockey world began covering up and conserving their faces.