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Grand moments

March 23rd, 1944
On March 23, 1944, Maurice Richard took matters into his own hands during the second game of the semifinals against Toronto at the Forum.

After a first period that elapsed without a goal from either side, “The Rocket” blasted off to begin the second frame. He scored the evening’s first two goals in a 17-second span, the first coming at 1:48 and the next at 2:05. After Reg Hamilton put the Leafs on the board, Richard completed his hat trick at 16:46.

His night was far from over, though, as Richard potted his fourth marker in the final period’s opening minute and put a fifth and final puck behind Toronto netminder, Paul Bibeault, at the 8:54 mark. Coach Dick Irvin, who needed his superstar for the rest of the series, felt it safer to keep Richard on the bench for the rest of the game.

Richard's five-goal playoff performance tied the NHL record set by Canadiens star, Newsy Lalonde, in March of 1919. Only three other players have found the twine five times in a postseason encounter since then. Linemates Toe Blake and Elmer Lach provided indispensable support to Richard on his record night, contributing five and four assists respectively.

Following the 5-1 victory that evened the series at a game apiece, Richard was picked as the evening’s first, second and third star, the first time any player had swept the post-game honors. The next day, newspaper headlines in both Toronto and Montreal read “Richard 5 - Toronto 1”.