Canadiens 7, Maple Leafs 2
Saturday, November 20, 1943
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, ON
Hap Day’s hapless Toronto Leafs stayed 20 minutes with the Montréal Canadiens at Maple Leaf Gardens Saturday night, then dropped out of the running as Dick Irvin’s rampaging leaders of the National Hockey League galloped off by themselves for a 7-2 decision.
One way and another, it was the most thorough shellacking administered by the Canadiens to a Toronto club in years – and only the second credited to the Montréalers here since Pigeon-Fancier Irvin shifted his coaching allegiance from the Gardens to the Forum.
The clubs caged a goal apiece in the opening period. After that, it was one way traffic, with the Montréalers dominating every stage of the contest from goal down to last sub. Lorne Carr, Bob Davidson, Babe Pratt and Elwin Morris were the only Toronto athletes able to cope with the faster moving, better passing, sturdier checking Habitants. The win ran the unbeaten string of the best balanced team in the circuit to nine games.
The Canadiens rolled in two goals in the second period, and rattled off four more in a stretch of less than three minutes in the third, to build up a 7-1 count that made strange figures on the big centre ice clock. In the dying seconds of the contest, and with McMahon, Watson, Webster and Morris in the penalty box, Lorne Carr bounced home the second Toronto goal, off a play with Pratt and Hill.
The second biggest Gardens crowd of the early season, 12,507, had little chance to see Bill Durnan demonstrate his netminding art. The Toronto born goalie of the Canadiens was given airtight protection by closely knit defensive support, and seldom had to extend himself and his ambidextrous stick wielding. The right handed Mr. Durnan handles a goalie’s cudgel like a drum major, swinging it to the left or right side as plays develop at the side of his cage.
The harassed Benny Grant had scant protection from a disjointed defence, and forwards that were frequently trapped out of the play by long and accurate passing visitors. Early in the first period, Benny misjudged a long, high shot fired by the cripple-armed Elmer Lach. Benny reached with his hand to ward off the shot, missed and took the shot on the forehead. He had to call a recess for repairs.
Dick Irvin presented the hottest forward line to show here this winter in Fernand Majeau, Heffernan and Buddy O’Connor. They divided five goals. O’Connor figured in five scores, with a goal and four assists. Majeau, one of Dick’s freshmen from the Montréal amateur ranks, had a pair of goals. So did Heffernan.
“You’ve just looked at,” said Irvin after the game, “the best player in the National League this winter.”
He was referring to Buddy O’Connor, his shifty sophomore centre. “That boy’s got everything,” Irvin said.
“As good as Cowley?”
“Better than Cowley,” Dick answered. “He’s much faster, and he’s better defensively. He’s my choice as the best playmaker, best all-round player in hockey. He makes his wings work and he sets up plays with plenty of authority.”
“Naturally,” Dick added, “I’m tickled to knock off the Leafs. It’s taken a long time. I feel sorry for Hap Day, though. He simply hasn’t got enough good hockey players. His kids may come along. I don’t know. But he’s got a lot of work ahead of him.”
Saturday’s game was the fifth in eight days for the league leading Canadiens, but they didn’t show any signs of stress.
The spice of the night was saved for the late stages of the third period, while hundreds of customers were heading for the exits. Elwin Morris and McMahon went into a short wrestling sparring bout. Then Phil Watson and Don Webster, who had been tilting all evening, decided to slug it out. Earlier in the period, Leo Lamoureux and Babe Pratt had presented a punch clutch session that brought them minor penalties, and a public address announcement that the boys were guilty of “roughing.”
Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, November 22, 1943
TOR GOAL – 09:10 – Davidson (Carr, Bodnar)
MTL GOAL – 16:53 – Heffernan (O’Connor, McMahon)
MTL PEN – Majeau
TOR PEN – Bodnar
MTL PP GOAL – 06:07 – Majeau (Watson, O’Connor)
MTL GOAL – 14:29 – O’Connor (Heffernan)
MTL PENS – McMahon (3)
TOR PEN – McLean
MTL GOAL – 12:21 – Watson (Blake)
MTL GOAL – 13:12 – Majeau (Heffernan)
MTL GOAL – 13:27 – Heffernan (Majeau, O’Connor)
MTL GOAL – 15:08 – Fillion (O’Connor)
TOR GOAL – 19:39 – Pratt (Carr)
MTL PENS – Watson (major), Heffernan, Lamoureux
TOR PENS – Webster (major), Morris, Pratt
MTL – Durnan (W)
TOR – Grant (L)
MTL – Goaltenders: Bill Durnan. Defence: Glen Harmon, Mike McMahon. Forwards: Toe Blake (C), Murph Chamberlain, Bob Fillion, Ray Getliffe, Gerry Heffernan, Elmer Lach, Leo Lamoureux, Fern Majeau, Buddy O’Connor, Maurice Richard, Bobby Walton, Phil Watson.
TOR – Goaltenders: Benny Grant. Defence: Ross Johnstone, Bucko McDonald, Moe Morris, Babe Pratt. Forwards: Gus Bodnar, George Boothman, Lorne Carr, Bob Davidson (C), Frank Dunlap, Jackie Hamilton, Mel Hill, Ted Kennedy, Jack McLean, Don Webster.