On November 1, 1959, Montreal Canadiens goalie Jacques Plante became the first goaltender to wear a mask in a regular season game. Plante had used his mask in practice since 1956 after missing 13 games because of sinusitis, however head coach Toe Blake did not allow him to wear it during regulation play.
On November 1st, Plante’s nose was broken when he was hit by a shot fired by Andy Bathgate three minutes into a game against the New York Rangers. He returned from the dressing room wearing the crude home-made goaltender mask that he had been using in practices. Blake was not pleased but he had no other goaltender to call upon and Plante refused to return to the goal unless he wore the mask. Blake agreed on the condition that Plante discard the mask when the cut healed. The Canadiens won the game 3–1.
After several days, Plante still refused to discard the mask, and as the Canadiens continued to win, Blake was less vocal about it. The unbeaten streak stretched to 18 games. Plante did not wear the mask, at Blake’s request, against Detroit on March 8, 1960; the Canadiens lost 3–0, and the mask returned for good the next night. That year the Canadiens won their fifth straight Stanley Cup, which was Plante’s last. (wiki)