"Of all the Cups we won, I still remember best that Cup we lost on a fluke."
That was Montreal Canadiens long time captain Butch Bouchard talking about the 1954 Stanley Cup finals. Tony Leswick's game seven OT goal was down right shocking.
"A few minutes before Leswick scored on that fluke shot, we had a breakaway. One of our players - it was Howard Riopelle - came in a lone on Sawchuk and he just missed the corner of the net. I think it hit the corner and bounced out. There was only a minute left to play in the third period and if that puck had gone in, we would have won the Stanley Cup," Bouchard recalled.
"But it went into the overtime. And their goal was such a fluke. Leswick let this high shot go from the blue line. Leswick wanted only to clear it from his own end to make a change of players. After he let it go - it was like what you call an infield pop fly in baseball - he started for the bench. I was sitting on our bench. I saw the puck going up and I remember thinking that there is no danger there.
"Doug Harvey went to grab it with his hand and it tipped the end of his finger. If Gerry McNeil had been taller, say 6 foot 2, it would have ticked his shoulder, maybe, but he was about 5 foot 7 and he couldn't see it - his view was obstructed by Harvey. The puck dropped over his shoulder and into the goal.
"Even Leswick was surprised. He heard the crowd yell and turned. He just wanted to get rid of the thing. We didn't say anything to Harvey. It could happen to any fellow. But to come so close to winning the Cup when Riopelle was free on that breakaway and then to lose on a fluke shot like Leswick's, that's still hard to take."