Game 199 – Canadiens 2, Maple Leafs 2

Game 199
Canadiens 2, Maple Leafs 2
Thursday, January 27, 1944
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

The Toronto Maple Leafs won a moral victory here tonight by earning a draw with the league leading Habitants 2-2, before the largest crowd of paying customers in the history of the Forum.

There were 12,876 paid admissions. A couple of thousand servicemen were in on Annie Oakleys, which swelled the total to close to 15,000, and had the building, which has a normal seating capacity of 9,120, fairly bulging at the scams.

It was a rough and tough contest, filled with close and solid checking. The headliners for the Leafs were Paul Bibeault, who gave a great display of netminding, and Lorne Carr and Babe Pratt, who scored the Leafs’ goals. The Toronto defence was superior to the Canadiens, being called upon to do a lot more work as the Canadiens had more shots on goal than the Leafs.

The Habs’ goals were scored by Elmer Lach and Buddy O’Connor. This pair, along with Phil Watson and Bill Durnan, were the pick of the Habitants.

With the checking being so close and vicious, tempers were warm most of the night. But the only real flareup came in the final period, when Reg Hamilton high sticked Murph Chamberlain. Chamberlain retaliated in like manner, and then followed through with a punch to Hamilton’s jaw. Chamberlain drew a major penalty, while Hamilton escaped with a minor.

The Leafs appeared without their two pepper pot youngsters, Windy O’Neill and Jackie McLean, and Hap Day had to toss out a weak third line of Hamilton, Johnstone and Ingoldsby. Toe Blake was absent from the Montréal lineup. Otherwise it was as formidable a lineup as the Canadiens have presented this winter.

The Leafs leaped into the lead early in the opening frame while Murph Chamberlain was serving a tripping penalty. The Leafs put on a power play which culminated in a goal by Babe Pratt. A sizzling backhander off the stick of the tall defenceman, after he had taken passes from Lorne Carr and Gus Bodnar, fooled Durnan completely.

Early in the second period, Don Webster was in the penalty box for interference when the Canadiens tied it up. Lach netted this one on passes from O’Connor and Heffernan, giving Bibeault no chance to save.

The cheering had hardly died down when Lorne Carr put the Leafs in the lead again. Webster was still in the box and the Leafs were shorthanded when Carr made a surprise break with the puck from near his own blue line. He outskated Elmer Lach, tore in on Durnan, pulled the latter out of the net, and tucked the puck in behind him for the prettiest goal of the night.

Bibeault turned aside a half dozen shots that appeared to be ticketed as the third period opened. Then came the battle between Chamberlain and Reg Hamilton, and while these two were off, Buddy O’Connor knotted the count. Using his linemate, Gerry Heffernan, as a decoy, he pulled the trigger from 30 feet out and beat Bibeault with a surprise shot.

Referee Bill Chadwick was fairly lenient and drew the ire of the fans, who staged several penny showers. The final period was played with coppers, programs, papers, bottles and rubbers littering the ice.

Hap Day expressed surprise at the huge crowd, more especially as it was a weekday, and said he was tickled to death at the showing of his team.

“This is a good Canadien team, and it hadn’t been beaten on its own ice in 16 straight games before tonight,” said Day. “That tie was a moral victory for us.”

In the other dressing room, Dick Irvin said: “After they scored that first goal, they were out there to play cover up hockey. But the Leafs turned in a good game just the same. I’m not too disappointed. They’re our closest competitors, and they didn’t gain on us tonight. Pretty soon they’ll run out of games.”

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, January 28, 1944

1st Period
MTL PEN – 04:11 – Watson
TOR PEN – 04:11 – Kennedy
MTL PEN – 05:01 – Chamberlain, tripping
TOR PP GOAL – 06:11 – Pratt (Carr, Bodnar)
TOR PEN – 07:29 – Ingoldsby

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 04:58 – Webster, interference
MTL PP GOAL – 05:25 – Lach (Heffernan, O’Connor)
TOR SH GOAL – 06:34 – Carr
MTL PEN – 09:16 – Watson
TOR PEN – 14:53 – Webster

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 02:30 – Chamberlain, roughing major
TOR PEN – 02:30 – Hamilton, roughing
MTL GOAL – 04:30 – O’Connor

MTL – Durnan (T)
TOR – Bibeault (T)

MTLGoaltenders: Bill Durnan. Defence: Butch Bouchard, Glen Harmon, Mike McMahon. Forwards: Murph Chamberlain, Bob Fillion, Ray Getliffe, Gerry Heffernan, Elmer Lach, Fern Majeau, Buddy O’Connor, Maurice Richard, Phil Watson.
TORGoaltenders: Paul Bibeault. Defence: Reg Hamilton, Ross Johnstone, Moe Morris, Babe Pratt. Forwards: Gus Bodnar, George Boothman, Lorne Carr, Bob Davidson (C), Jackie Hamilton, John Ingoldsby, Ted Kennedy, Don Webster.

MTL – 22-3-6 (.806)
TOR – 16-15-3 (.515)