Game 098 – Canadiens 6, Maple Leafs 1

Game 098
Canadiens 6, Maple Leafs 1
Saturday, January 10, 1931
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

Those Flying Frenchmen literally flew tonight to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 6 to 1, and regain first place in the International section of the NHL. The Canadiens dazzled the Leafs with blinding speed, and gave one of the most brilliant performances they have shown this season.

Scoring the first goal of the game in the opening minute of play, the locals launched a skating attack that was a pleasure to watch. And they matched their bewildering speed with a passing game that was practically flawless, backchecking that made the Toronto players dizzy, and shooting that was rarely wide of the target.

Good as the Canadiens undoubtedly were tonight, the Leafs extended them all the way. The final score is not a true indication of the difference in the teams. On the play, the score should have been about 3 to 1. In the final period, when the Canadiens were leading by that margin, the Toronto players, in an effort to whittle down the handicap, threw caution to the winds and used a four and, frequently, a five man attack, to break down the stonewall like defence which the Canadiens had previously presented.

The Leafs would have accomplished their purpose too, had their shooting been anything but the most erratic kind. They hemmed the Canadiens in the home team’s end of the rink with startling thrusts at the net, but their shots were high, wide and discouragingly distant from their objective. It was the most exciting kind of hockey, and thrilled a crowded Forum, but the Canadiens simply could not and would not be beaten. The winners’ last three goals were scored when the locals managed to break away with the puck, catching Toronto players clustered about the Montréaler’s net.

From their own blue line to the Toronto end of the rink, the only player to present an obstacle in their way was goalkeeper Lorne Chabot. They raced in on him and stickhandled the puck right into the Toronto cage. When the last two goals were scored, the Leafs had five forwards on the ice and Clancy, Day and Horner, defence players, were in the dressing room removing their skates.

The game was clean, only five penalties – two in the second period and three in the final period – being handed out. There seemed to be no time for anything but blistering speed. Howie Morenz gave the pass to Johnny Gagnon for the Canadiens’ first goal in the opening minute of play, but after that the meteoric Morenz was so carefully watched by the Leafs that he did not again figure in a scoring play. But in giving Morenz so much of their attention, the Leafs were forced to devote less to his teammates, and Aurèle Joliat, Gagnon, Mondou, Lépine and Georges Mantha took full advantage of the situation.

Joliat gave a great display. In the second period, at a time when the Leafs were outplaying their opponents, Joliat came to their rescue with one of the feature scoring plays of the night. The first penalties had just been meted out, Jackson and Larochelle being benched for cross checking each other. “Ace” Bailey, in an effort to pierce the Montréal defence, was circling at the Canadiens’ blue line. Joliat checked him, but Bailey recovered the rubber. He circled again and Joliat stopped him, taking the puck and darting through on a surprised Toronto defence. With an exhibition of stickhandling that was remarkable, he worked right in on Chabot and gave the net guardian no chance to save.

The Leafs had more than held their own with the Canadiens in the second period up to that time. In the opening minute of the session, Bailey missed a great scoring chance. He went in on the goal with only Hainsworth to beat, but the latter made a great save. The Leafs had other scoring chances just as good, but something always interfered. Charlie Conacher, with Hainsworth at his mercy, hit the goal post, while Jackson and Cotton were outlucked at the critical moment when they were right in.

The Canadiens followed Joliat’s goal with an inspired attack, that culminated when Burke netted the puck on a pass from Gagnon inside the defence. Lépine also figured in a passing thrust that ended with Burke right at the goalmouth. The Leafs’ only goal came about a minute before the period ended, Charlie Conacher beating Hainsworth on a three man attack with Jackson and Primeau.

The Leafs were not disheartened when they came on the ice for the final period, but in concentrating on the attack, they left the Canadiens openings for boring through the defence. Gagnon was left uncovered in front of the goal to get a pass from Joliat, who had just previously missed an open net with one of his brilliant bursts through the Toronto defence.

Mondou and Jenkins drew penalties, and hardly had they settled themselves in the cooler when Leduc was also given an enforced rest. Then the Leafs provided one of the most exciting two minutes of the game. They kept four men in the Canadiens’ defence area, with a short passing game that had Hainsworth jumping from one side of the net to the other in an effort to block the puck. Had the Leafs been as good with their shooting as they were with their passing at this stage, they would have marked up a couple of goals. Even when the teams were restored to full strength, the Leafs sent every man but Chabot up on the attack.

One of the prettiest sights that any hockey game has provided for the writer this season was supplied by the Leafs at this time. With five men strung across the width of the rink like a line of soldiers, they carried the puck from behind their own blue line right to the Montréal end without a Canadien player getting a stick on it. It was a perfect passing combination, and it ended with “Red” Horner right in front of Hainsworth. But at point blank range, Hainsworth stopped Horner’s shot. “Red” attempted to lift the rubber over him, but it struck Hainsworth’s shoulder as he leaped out of his net.

A few minutes later, with Primeau, Bailey, Jackson, Conacher and Jenkins all concentrating on the attack. Gus Rivers managed to break away at his own blue line, and with nobody in front but Chabot, he sailed down the wing. Georges Mantha caught up to him, and as one of the Toronto players drew near from behind, Rivers passed to Mantha, and the latter had no difficulty stickhandling his way past Chabot.

A couple of minutes later, the Toronto forwards were again caught around the Canadien net by Georges Mantha, who skated almost the full length of the rink alone, and beat Chabot again for the final goal.

Chabot made some remarkable stops. He gave the excellent display that Toronto fans have learned to expect from him, and on three occasions at least, he made stops when he was apparently at the mercy of the puck carrier.

The Toronto defence did not appear to good advantage in this game, owing to the extreme speed with which the Canadiens bore down on it. There was no time to bodycheck. The Toronto wings failed to backcheck with their usual effectiveness, and the defence was left wide open many times for these machine-like attacks of the Montréalers. Charlie Conacher found it hard to get going at times, the most prominent front line performers for the Leafs being Bailey, Jackson, Primeau and Blair. Cotton tired badly in the final period, and was not used much. Clancy was not as prominent nor effective as he usually is, Day and Horner appearing to be the strongest defence combination the Toronto team presented. Horner was particularly good, and his puck carrying was a constant threat.

The ever brilliant Morenz, Joliat and Gagnon were the premier performers for the winners, with Lépine, Georges Mantha and Mondou pressing them hard for the honours. Burke and McCaffrey played a strong game on the defence, both overshadowing the work of Sylvio Mantha and Leduc. Hainsworth was par excellence in the net.

Story originally published in The Globe, January 12, 1931

1st Period
MTL GOAL – 00:45 – Gagnon (Morenz)

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 10:35 – Joliat

MTL GOAL – 13:45 – Burke (Gagnon, Lépine)
TOR GOAL – 19:20 – Conacher (Jackson, Primeau)
MTL PEN – Larochelle
TOR PEN – Jackson

3rd Period
MTL GOAL – 01:45 – Gagnon (Joliat)
MTL GOAL – 17:20 – G. Mantha (Rivers)
MTL GOAL – 19:25 – G. Mantha (Mondou)
MTL PENS – Leduc, Mondou
TOR PEN – Jenkins

MTL – Hainsworth (W)
TOR – Chabot (L)

MTLGoaltenders: George Hainsworth. Defence: Marty Burke, Albert Leduc, Georges Mantha, Sylvio Mantha (C). Forwards: Johnny Gagnon, Aurèle Joliat, Wildor Larochelle, Pit Lépine, Bert McCaffrey, Armand Mondou, Howie Morenz, Gus Rivers, Nick Wasnie.
TORGoaltenders: Lorne Chabot. Defence: King Clancy, Hap Day (C), Red Horner. Forwards: Ace Bailey, Andy Blair, Charlie Conacher, Baldy Cotton, Busher Jackson, Roger Jenkins, Joe Primeau.

MTL – 11-6-3 (.625)
TOR – 10-7-4 (.571)