Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 5
Saturday, February 28, 1931
Arena Gardens, Toronto, ON
In one of the most tempestuous National League games of hockey the two teams have ever participated in here, the Maple Leafs and Canadiens played a 5-all overtime draw at the Arena Gardens on Saturday night, before a wildly exuberant capacity crowd.
Twice the Maple Leafs seemed doomed to certain defeat, with the Flying Frenchmen enjoying a two goal lead. But each time the Leafs came through through with the needed goals to tie the score, their second remarkable recovery occurring in the overtime session, which provided more scoring than any previous period.
It was an explosive battle that did not confine itself to the ice. After two fairly serene periods, the fireworks began to shoot in the third frame, when the Canadiens had increased their second period margin of one goal to two. Bad feeling between the players which was engendered in the last game played at Montréal, came to a head when Harvey Jackson and Marty Burke started fighting beside the Canadiens’ net after the two had a run in at the boards. Both drew major penalties. They had hardly taken their places in the penalty box beside Charlie Conacher, a previous occupant, when the fighting was renewed, Conacher and Jackson both setting upon Burke. In a few seconds, a general free-for-all occurred in which three policemen, several fans and the struggling players were engaged.
When the turmoil subsided, Burke and Jackson were given match penalties, which, in the case of Jackson, didn’t matter much anyway, as he had already incurred his third major, which brings him automatic suspension from the next scheduled game of the Leafs. Conacher’s penalty was not increased, probably because, when the referees’ attention was directed to the row in the penalty box, most of the combatants were swallowed up in the milling crowd.
The bad feeling among the players was transmitted to the crowd, and a more riotous gathering has not been observed at a major hockey league affair here for many seasons. Even before the fighting started, programs, papers and peanuts were hurled onto the ice, with a total disregard for the progress of the game, and delays were necessary until the debris could be removed. The referees were the targets for many of the missiles, but the visiting players were also in line with some of the things thrown, one fan so far forgetting himself as to send an open jackknife hurtling through the air at one of the officials.
The game was finished with five men a side, the Leafs tying the score late in the third period when the Canadiens were further handicapped by a penalty to Morenz. In the overtime session, the Canucks forged to the front again, and appeared to have sewed up the game when they lengthened their advantage to two goals. But the Leafs were not to be outdone. In a fighting finish, with a four man attack bottling up the Habitants in their own goal zone, they blazed in the two goals that wiped out the Canadiens’ chances for a victory, and got an equal division of the points.
It was contest replete with action and thrills, although perhaps not providing as much good hockey as these teams have played here in other games. On the play, the visitors looked the better team. But after the Leafs became fully aroused in the latter stages of the contest and refused to accept defeat, they were equally as good.
The hero role can be given to Andy Blair. He scored one and assisted in the other Toronto goal in the stormy overtime period. About midway through the third period, he was carried off the ice in great pain with a cramped muscle in his leg. He did not return to the game again until the overtime period, and then he performed the rescuer’s role to perfection. It was his biggest scoring night of the season, for he got the goal that put the Leafs on even terms with the Canadiens in the first period.
But Charlie Conacher and “Ace” Bailey also shared the limelight with Blair. They got as many scoring points as Andy, and they provided the two goals which sent the game into overtime. Conacher also scored the Leafs’ final counter, which put the teams on even terms again for the third time during the game.
Howie Morenz, with two goals and an assist, was the scoring ace for the visitors, and he further established himself as the leading point getter in the NHL race. Aurèle Joliat was the only other member of the Canadiens to get more than one scoring point. He netted the only goal of the second period on a pass from Rivers, and he combined with Morenz for the first goal of the overtime period, the two breaking away from their own goal zone and beating a weakened Toronto defence. Morenz went right in on Chabot, and made sure of the tally by stickhandling the puck into the net.
The other goals secured by the visitors were scored by Georges Mantha and Johnny Gagnon, Morenz assisting on Mantha and Gagnon breaking away for a lone sally, and having almost a free path to the Toronto net, as the Leafs were pinning their hopes on a four man attack at the visitors’ cage.
The Canadiens’ first three counters were all scored while the locals’ “Kid” forward line was in action. Georges Mantha was right in front of the Toronto net when Morenz sifted a pass through to him about midway in the first period. The Leafs provided the equalizer about four minutes later, when Blair’s shot found an opening following a clever three man thrust, with Bailey and Cotton assisting. Joliat was in the cooler at the time.
The Canadiens showed authority in the second period, but encountered a stubborn Toronto defence. Joliat registered the only goal of the frame when he stood in front of Chabot and batted a fast pass from Rivers on the wing into the twine. It was a clever play, and Chabot didn’t have a chance to block it.
The third period was less than two minutes old when the Canadiens launched a three man attack at the Toronto net, Morenz carrying the puck in over the blue line. The local defence evidently expected him to pass, but he crossed them up by unloosing one of his waist high drives that caught Chabot off his stride, and put the Canadiens two up in the scoring.
The Leafs, facing defeat, seemed unable to beat Hainsworth, who showed one of his real fine performances all through the game. Primeau was right in on top of him once, but his shot was blocked. A penalty to Sylvio Mantha for tripping Bailey could not be used to advantage by the Leafs. The tension between the players was apparent, and a flareup was momentarily expected. Blair was hurt and carried off, and Primeau had to serve double duty as the only available centreman.
Day drew a penalty, and while he was off, Gagnon twice missed wide open scoring chances, Chabot making great saves each time. As Day returned to the ice, Charlie Conacher was penalized. The Leafs kept up their drive on the Canadiens’ net, and it was during one of the scrambles around the goal that Jackson and Burke became embroiled. The fans were kept in a ferment of excitement from then on.
When the teams resumed play, Morenz was penalized, and during his absence the Leafs scored the tying goals. Conacher got the first one on a pass from Bailey, the former stickhandling the puck right into the net. Stimulated by that tally, the Leafs took less than a minute to get the next, Bailey netting the puck in a passing play, with Primeau and Conacher.
Four minutes after the overtime began, Joliat and Morenz combined for an early goal, and a minute later, Gagnon put the visitors two up again. The Leafs threw caution to the winds, and mustered a four man attack that left Chabot the only player outside the Canadiens’ blue line. Blair, who had just returned to the ice, scored when his shot glanced into the net off Morenz’s leg, as the latter was backed up in front of Hainsworth. The Canadiens resorted to shooting the puck down the ice to relieve the pressure, but the Leafs waged a resistless and determined attack on Hainsworth. Blair finally passed to Conacher, who circled in from the wing and fairly carried the puck into the goal by the impetus of his drive.
There have been many better games played at the Arena, but for excitement, hard feeling and turbulence, and interest, it would be hard to equal this one.
Story originally published in The Globe, March 2, 1931
MTL GOAL – 09:10 – G. Mantha (Morenz)
TOR PP GOAL – 13:00 – Blair (Cotton, Bailey)
TOR PENS – Clancy, Conacher
MTL PENS – Joliat, S. Mantha
MTL GOAL – 14:50 – Joliat (Rivers)
TOR PEN – Day
MTL PEN – Burke
MTL GOAL – 01:40 – Morenz
TOR PP GOAL – 18:20 – Conacher (Bailey, Day)
TOR PP GOAL – 18:58 – Bailey (Primeau, Conacher)
TOR PENS – Jackson (match penalty), Conacher, Day
MTL PENS – Burke (match penalty), S. Mantha, Morenz
MTL GOAL – 04:00 – Morenz (Joliat)
MTL GOAL – 05:05 – Gagnon
TOR GOAL – 07:30 – Blair (Clancy)
TOR GOAL – 08:10 – Conacher (Blair, Bailey)
TOR – Chabot (T)
MTL – Hainsworth (T)
TOR – Goaltenders: Lorne Chabot. Defence: King Clancy, Hap Day (C), Red Horner, Alex Levinsky. Forwards: Ace Bailey, Andy Blair, Charlie Conacher, Baldy Cotton, Bob Gracie, Busher Jackson, Joe Primeau.
MTL – Goaltenders: George Hainsworth. Defence: Marty Burke, Albert Leduc, Georges Mantha, Sylvio Mantha (C). Forwards: Johnny Gagnon, Aurèle Joliat, Wildor Larochelle, Pit Lépine, Armand Mondou, Howie Morenz, Gus Rivers, Nick Wasnie.