Game 105 – Canadiens 2, Maple Leafs 0 (OT)

Game 105
Canadiens 2, Maple Leafs 0 (OT)
Saturday, December 26, 1931
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

On the race courses it is said that a thoroughbred generally “comes through.” In hockey it is just the same. After sixty two minutes of play on Saturday evening at Maple Leaf Gardens, during which the Canadiens and Maple Leafs battled desperately to break a goalless tie, Howie Morenz, a real thoroughbred of the hockey game took advantage of the shorthandedness of the locals and drilled a shot past Lorne Chabot to give the Canadiens the margin and the encouragement they needed, and, with the Leafs battling hard, every man up on the line in a desperate effort to score the equalizer, Joliat and Lépine broke away to again beat Chabot and take the decision 2 to 0.

One of the largest crowds to ever witness a hockey game in Toronto – 14,300 – was present to see the locals humbled. Every available seat was sold, and long queues formed outside the arena awaiting the opening of the doors for general admission. As is quite often the case when seats are at a premium, the game failed in some respects to live up to the expectations of the fans.

The Canadiens, resenting the defeat which the Leafs handed them on Christmas Eve in Montréal, put up determined, stubborn opposition to the locals, who were weakened by the absence from their lineup of Charlie Conacher. The local sharpshooter was an onlooker on Saturday evening, with his arm in a sling, having suffered a wrenched ligament in his shoulder in the game at Montréal.

The absence of Conacher had much to do with the result of the contest. The Canadiens, relieved of the worry of the threat produced by the scoring ace of the locals, were able to pay much attention to the other players, and rarely did they get inside of the stonewall defence of Burke and Mantha. The Leafs sadly needed the bullet-like shots of Conacher, as they were erratic in their shooting and missed many chances which might have been turned into goals.

Coach Irvin used “Ace” Bailey with Primeau and Jackson, and alternated Bailey with Finnigan on the other two lines. Bailey turned in a most useful game, and several times during the contest gave brilliant displays of stickhandling.

Play during the first period was not of the thrilling variety, and if there was a slight margin between the teams, it belonged to the visitors. The “Hurtling Habitants” lived up to their name many times during the session, as they leaped sticks in an effort to get through the defence. Chabot was tested right after the faceoff, easily turning aside a drive from Morenz, who shot before reaching the defence.

The Stratford “flash,” exhibiting as much speed as ever, was here, there and everywhere, breaking up combination plays, and closely checking the local forward line, so that the Leafs were unable to make a great deal of headway. In fact, the contest for the entire regulation distance was one in which close checking predominated. Morenz secured again, and circled around the back of the net, but was unable to get his shot away. Jackson drew the first penalty when he boarded Gagnon, the latter taking the count. The local player put plenty of pep behind his check, Gagnon going down just behind the local net.

One of the features of the period was the added “fight” shown by Andy Blair. Blair has at times been the subject of criticism for his lack of aggressiveness, but on Saturday evening he displayed plenty of force when checking his opponents, and battled hard behind the net on many occasions in an attempt to rob the puck carrier. Perhaps he was trying to make up for the loss of Conacher in this regard, but, although he failed to get goals, he was right in there battling, and should he continue to play the kind of hockey he showed on Saturday night, he will be a most valuable performer.

Hainsworth had little difficulty in turning aside the scoring attempts of the Leafs during the first period. Rarely did the locals penetrate the Burke-Mantha rearguard of the visitors. Burke, as usual, handed out healthy body checks to all and sundry, and while effective, he was none too gentle with incoming forwards.

Bailey, Primeau and Jackson broke away on a nice three man combination play at one time, with Bailey making the shot and missing by inches. Hainsworth was lucky on the drive, taking the puck in his hand just as it was about to cross the goal line. Close checking by the forwards robbed the first period of much interest, while the training of the Leafs at St. Catharines stood Horner in good stead when he relieved the pressure at one time by a nifty massie shot, which fell slightly short of the “green,” being stopped in midair just past the Canadiens’ blue line.

The second period had hardly started when Sylvio Mantha was sent off for a deliberate left hook, which failed to find its mark on Harold Darragh. The local player was endeavouring to round the defence, and had partly succeeded when Mantha made the “pass” which earned him a two minute penalty. Morenz brought the crowd to its feet when he secured and in one of his famous swirling dashes, sped up the ice and successfully negotiated the defence, only to have Lorne Chabot make a fine save.

Primeau was the next to visit the penalty box, and both the banished player and captain Clancy argued with referee Daigneault as to the merits of the penalty, but as usual, the arbiter’s word was final, and the local centre player, whose clever stickhandling had relieved the tension on many occasions, was forced to take a rest. The fans showed, in no uncertain manner, that they did not see eye to eye with the official, and some even went so far as to throw their programs, although none reached the ice.

As is usual when the Leafs are shorthanded, the fans cried for Andy Blair, but coach Irvin has convinced the Winnipegger that he can do more than “rag the puck,” and “Ace” Bailey was elected to stand off the visitors. Bailey gave a fine exhibition of stickhandling, keeping the puck away from the Canadien players and showing almost as much dexterity in this regard as Blair has on previous occasions. The Leafs gave a real aggressive display, and by close checking held the visitors until Primeau returned.

Leduc went off, and the locals endeavoured to take advantage of his absence, but failed, although “Red” Horner had a fine chance of getting somewhere after passing the defence, but his shot was lamentably weak. Leduc came back before any damage was done, and Chabot was called upon to make several stops, which where were much too close for safety. Cotton tested Hainsworth just before the period ended, the visiting goaler handling the shot cleanly.

The third period was perhaps the most thrilling of the evening, with play ranging up and down the ice, first the locals giving Hainsworth anxious moments, and then the Canadiens making Chabot busy. Gracie, displaying plenty of speed, outwitted the visitors’ defence and drove a shot at Hainsworth from the side, only to hit the goalpost. Jackson almost broke through to get a shot past Hainsworth. The play was close.

Chabot was called upon to clear several shots from Joliat and Morenz, while Mantha made a rush which took him almost the full length of the ice, only to be spilled on the boards at the blue line. Primeau and Jackson made a fine passing play, with the latter taking the shot, on which Hainsworth made a clever save. The Canadiens peppered Chabot frequently, but were unable to beat him. Clancy and Joliat went off for mixing it, and neither team was able to make any headway during their absence. As the recalcitrants came on, Burke went off for elbowing, and the Leafs made a determined effort to tally the goal which would bring them victory. Primeau and Bailey gave a very effective display, but when the full time gong sounded, the teams were still engaged in the goalless deadlock.

Just as the fans settled for a real overtime session, Darragh and Gracie brought them to their feet with some fine passing, but Frankie Finnigan was banished under the anti-defence rule, and the Canadiens leaped to the attack. Morenz, who thrilled the spectators time and time again with his cyclonic rushes and fine checking, secured, and with but little over two minutes gone, shot a buzzer which eluded Chabot and nestled in the back of the net. Chabot’s vision was partially obscured by the players in front of him at the time. Finnigan came on and the Leafs battled for the equalizer.

Jackson missed by inches, and the players swarmed around the visitors’ end in an effort to beat Hainsworth, who was coolly turning aside their shots. The entire team went “up front,” only to have the speedy Joliat secure and, flanked by Lépine, he sped down the ice and made the pass, Lépine making no mistake and rifling the puck past Chabot.

The task of overcoming the two goal margin of the visitors was an insurmountable one, and although the Leafs never gave up trying, they were unable to fool Hainsworth until just after the final bell rang. Bailey took Jackson’s pass, but the bell beat Bailey’s shot at the goal, and the counter was not allowed.

Little fault could be found with the display of the locals. Chabot gave a sterling display throughout, stopping many shots which would have beaten a less capable netminder. Clancy and Horner went well on the defence, as did Day and Levinsky when they were on. Primeau gave his usual fine performance at centre, while Bailey and Blair also showed to advantage.

For the Canadiens, the defence of Mantha and Burke was almost impregnable, while Dunc Munro and Leduc also offered a considerable barrier when relieving. Morenz, Joliat and Lépine showed up best on the forward line.

Story originally published in The Globe, December 28, 1931

1st Period
MTL PENS – S. Mantha, Leduc
TOR PEN – Jackson, Primeau

2nd Period
MTL PENS – Burke, Joliat
TOR PEN – Clancy

3rd Period
MTL PEN – Wasnie
TOR PEN – Finnigan

MTL GOAL – 02:15 – Morenz
MTL GOAL – 02:55 – Lépine (Joliat)

MTL – Hainsworth (W + SO, 40-40)
TOR – Chabot (L, 42-44)

MTL – 10+12+9+13 = 44
TOR – 12+12+11+5 = 40

MTLGoaltenders: George Hainsworth. Defence: Marty Burke, Albert Leduc, Georges Mantha, Sylvio Mantha (C), Dunc Munro. Forwards: Johnny Gagnon, Aurèle Joliat, Wildor Larochelle, Pit Lépine, Armand Mondou, Howie Morenz, Gus Rivers, Nick Wasnie.
TORGoaltenders: Lorne Chabot. Defence: King Clancy, Hap Day (C), Red Horner, Alex Levinsky. Forwards: Ace Bailey, Andy Blair, Baldy Cotton, Harold Darragh, Frank Finnigan, Bob Gracie, Busher Jackson, Joe Primeau.

MTL – 7-7-3 (.500)
TOR – 7-6-4 (.529)