Game 099 – Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 1

Game 099
Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 1
Saturday, January 17, 1931
Arena Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Gaining a two goal margin in the opening period and dominating the play practically throughout, the Maple Leafs inflicted a 3 to 1 defeat upon Les Canadiens at the Arena Gardens on Saturday night, while another capacity crowd looked on.

In the first and third periods, the Leafs had a considerable margin over their flashy opponents, and they should have won by a larger margin. They displayed some particularly fine attacking efforts and made the visiting defence look sieve-like at times. Only in the second period, when the Canadiens scored their lone tally, did the Montréal invaders look equal to the locals. The victory kept the Leafs in second place tied with the Maroons.

While the crowd was not as large as the record one which witnessed the previous appearance of the Canadiens here, it was just a hundred or two short of the mark. Every available seat was occupied, but there was less standing room admission sold. It was an enthusiastic gathering, and the game provided was one of the best of the current season. It was wide open hockey from first to last and, even under the pressure of the visitors’ four man attacks in the final period, the Leafs were not obliged to resort to the time honoured custom of hoisting the puck to the other end of the rink. They battled the Flying Frenchmen all the way, and won because they were the superior team on the night’s play.

Irvin Bailey and Harold Cotton combined to give Toronto two clever tallies in the opening period. Bailey netted the puck each time after receiving a pass from the left winger. The first goal came just under four minutes from the initial faceoff. Cotton’s pass enabled Bailey to clear the defence, and he stickhandled the rubber to the goalmouth and backhanded a shot into the net, while Hainsworth vainly sought to outguess him.

The second goal came ten minutes later. Cotton carried the puck down centre ice and passed to Bailey, who had raced in toward the net. The puck was deflected off a visiting player’s skate and caromed over in front of Bailey, who was through the defence by that time. The “Ace” caught Hainsworth with the near side of the net unguarded, and he bounced the puck off the latter’s pads into the cage.

Those two goals would have been sufficient as things turned out, but there is nothing certain about a Leaf-Canadiens game until the final gong sounds. The Montréalers fought stubbornly to overhaul the Leafs, and nearly succeeded in doing so. Only for some alert goalkeeping by Lorne Chabot and some clever defence play by the men directly in front of him, the game would have been tied in the second period, during which the visitors made their best showing. They succeeded in getting one goal, and missed two or three others only by inches. Nick Wasnie accounted for the only counter, that trickled through Chabot’s armour. Combining with Joliat and Lépine halfway through the middle period, he netted a pass from the first named while camped at the goalmouth, Chabot having no chance to save.

In the final period, the Leafs again set the pace, and had enough scoring chances to pile up a substantial lead. They only succeeded, however, in scoring once, Harvey Jackson providing the shot after Primeau, Conacher and Day had all handled the puck in a bewildering attack on the Canadiens’ citadel. It was Jackson’s second or third shot at the net during the same attack. The puck kept passing to and fro in front of the net, and Primeau and Conacher missed nice chances to net it before Jackson got in his telling shot.

It was apparent in the early part of the first period that the Leafs were out to redeem themselves for the 6 to 1 beating by the Canadiens in Montréal the previous Saturday night. They uncorked as much speed as the Stanley Cup holders, and slowed up the visitors by some hard bodychecks. The Toronto defence allowed no liberties on the part of the Canadiens’ snipers, and the wings backchecked with an energy that broke up many of the Habitants’ passing attacks.

Howie Morenz drew particular attention, and “The Mitchell Meteor” did not appear at his best. Only on a few occasions was he able to get dangerously near to the Toronto net. He was a marked man whenever the puck came his way, and there were times when he expressed extreme annoyance at the deference accorded him.

The visitors showed the effects of the game with the Maroons on Thursday night last, just as the Leafs did in Montréal the week previous.

The Leafs were all over their rivals at times, and Charlie Conacher in particular had no luck at all when around the opposing net. He missed two or three glaring opportunities to score by inability to snare a loose puck at the goalmouth. On one or two occasions, Hainsworth made sensational stops from the youthful right wing’s stick when Conacher had him at close range. Harvey Jackson was also outguessed by Hainsworth when, by a clever bit of stickhandling, the Toronto youngster sifted through the Montréal defence to get a close in drive. But the puck was blocked by the visiting net guardian.

The game was comparatively clean, the only outbreak occurring late in the first period, when Jackson and Johnny Gagnon, his opposing check, came to blows. What started the trouble wasn’t apparent, but Jackson got the better of the exchange. He landed a couple of straight-from-the-shoulder blows, and Gagnon was forced to go into a clinch without any return. The officials were quick in separating the combatants, and both drew major penalties. It was the only untoward incident of the game.

The Leafs scored their final goal while Sylvio Mantha was in the penalty box. He had just leaped to the ice again when Jackson lodged the puck into the net. Mantha had drawn a rest for spilling Joe Primeau when the little centre player appeared to be through the defence, and headed for a clear shot on Hainsworth.

The Leafs gave such an all-round good performance that it is difficult to single out any individual, although Bailey and Cotton deserve the centre of the spotlight for their scoring efforts. Cotton’s passing was a feature, but without Bailey’s cleverness in outguessing Hainsworth, it might have gone for naught. Both played a fine attacking game and, their backchecking was a constant obstacle in frustrating the Canadiens’ attacks.

Andy Blair, Harvey Jackson and Joe Primeau were also conspicuous, Primeau giving some fine displays of stickhandling and proving troublesome to the visiting defence. Charlie Conacher was unlucky in that he failed to register a goal or two, but he was a most useful backchecker, and once he batted the puck away from Morenz when the latter had beaten the defence and appeared to have a wide open chance on the Toronto net.

Clancy, Day and Horner gave their usual good performance in front of Chabot. They sallied forth on the attack more often than has been their custom of late, and it was noticeable that they slowed down the Canadiens by some bruising body checks early in the game. Chabot gave another clever exhibition of goaltending, and deserved a shutout.

Morenz and Lépine were the pick of the visiting attackers. Johnny Gagnon lost effectiveness after a couple of severe body checks, while Georges Mantha and Joliat were not up to the standard they showed against the Leafs in Montréal. Wasnie looked good, but Larochelle and Rivers were only ordinary. Marty Burke and Sylvio Mantha shared much of the defensive duties, but Leduc and Lesieur were used occasionally. Lesieur was making his NHL debut, having just been obtained from Providence. He is a chunky individual, who has a lot of speed, and should prove a valuable addition to Cecil Hart’s team. He was given a penalty for picking up the puck in the Canadiens’ goalmouth while both he and Hainsworth were down on the ice, and the Leafs were clustered around trying to net the rubber. Hainsworth was particularly good, and the Leafs had to earn all their tallies.

Story originally published in The Globe, January 19, 1931

1st Period
TOR GOAL – 03:58 – Bailey (Cotton)
TOR GOAL – 10:15 – Bailey (Cotton)
TOR PENS – Jackson (major), Clancy, Day
MTL PENS – Gagnon (major), Burke, Lesieur, Morenz

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 11:10 – Wasnie (Joliat, Lépine)

TOR PENS – Blair, Conacher, Jackson
MTL PEN – Morenz

3rd Period
TOR GOAL – 04:20 – Jackson (Day, Conacher)
TOR PEN – Cotton
MTL PENS – S. Mantha, Wasnie

TOR – Chabot (W, 34-35)
MTL – Hainsworth (L, 35-38)

TOR – 12+12+14 = 38
MTL – 12+11+12 = 35

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.
MTLGoaltenders: George Hainsworth. Defence: Marty Burke, Albert Leduc, Art Lesieur, Georges Mantha, Sylvio Mantha (C). Forwards: Johnny Gagnon, Aurèle Joliat, Wildor Larochelle, Pit Lépine, Armand Mondou, Howie Morenz, Gus Rivers, Nick Wasnie.

TOR – 11-7-5 (.587)
MTL – 13-7-3 (.630)