Game 201 – Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 1

Game 201
Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 1
Thursday, February 24, 1944
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

Les Habitants sent their Gallic supporters home happy tonight. The Canadiens smacked the Leafs 3-1 while a crowd of 12,192 cash customers screamed until their tonsils were hanging by slender threads.

By dumping the Leafs, Les Canadiens maintained their unbeaten ice record. It was their 20th home game of the season, and as yet no team has managed to put the slug on them.

However, there were observers who came out of the jam-packed Forum with the impression that the Canadiens aren’t completely invincible. Last night’s game was an interesting clinical experiment in which it was demonstrated – not conclusively, however – that the Habitants might be knocked in the playoffs by a team that will bump them continuously, play defensive hockey and wait for the breaks.

The Leafs demonstrated the efficacy of this defensive technique for the first 20 minutes of the game. Then their goalie lapsed momentarily and, before you could say “Gus Pradapopuleous is a mealy mouthed little snitch,” the Canadiens were leading by two goals. Coach Happy Day played Babe Pratt on his defence lines for approximately 50 minutes, in attempting to snag the fast traveling Montréalers. “The Honest Switchman” turned in a superlatively fine performance, and he was forced to take a holding penalty in the third period in order to get a rest. As he sat in the penalty box, his tongue dragged clear down to the ice.

The rink was packed long before game time, and 2500 men of the armed services were yammering for admission. Following their usual policy, the Forum management permitted most of them to occupy standing room – admitting them just before they tore the gates off their hinges.

It was evident from the outset that the operatives of both teams were intent on whittling sternly on their opponents’ noggins. The Canadiens had a wide margin on territorial play in the first period, but strangely enough, the Leafs had the best scoring opportunities. Durnan robbed Lorne Carr on a breakaway at the 10 minute mark, and two minutes later, Bob Davidson and Gus Bodnar both missed on a single rush that had the Habitants’ supporters swooning weakly in the aisles. Although the going was extremely heavy, Phil Watson was given the only penalty of the period, when he attempted to knock Reg Hamilton into Peel Street.

The second period was a comedy of errors which culminated in a disputed goal. Les Canadiens blitzed Paul Bibeault for two goals in the first 28 seconds of the period. He looked shockingly inept on the first when he cleared a harmless looking rebound onto Ray Getliffe’s stick right in the goal mouth. Getliffe had no trouble in canning it. Ten seconds later, Phil Watson came in on the short side and stuffed a shot between Bibeault and the post while the gentle customers in the north end fried Paul’s soul to a crisp brown. However, Bill Durnan, who was hospitably disposed toward his rival goalie, made a graceful gesture three minutes later when he fanned obligingly on a 65-foot shot by Elwyn Morris. The shot didn’t have enough steam to work a cigaret lighter.

The disputed goal came with Elmer Lach in the penalty box. Toe Blake converted a pass from Lamoureux just as the gong sounded to end the period. As a matter of fact, the red light (signifying a goal) and the green light (signifying the period’s end) flashed simultaneously. However, Bill Chadwick ruled that the puck entered the net before the green lamp blinked.

Bibeault played a terrific game, with the exception of that one minute in the middle period.

Chadwick, whose officiating was hotly criticized by Happy Day the last time the two teams played in Montréal, handled a tough game with aplomb – not to mention sangfroid. Well, anyhow, no one tried to cut his throat.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, February 25, 1944

1st Period
MTL PEN – 01:37 – Watson

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 00:18 – Getliffe (Watson, Lamoureux)
MTL GOAL – 00:28 – Watson (Getliffe, Chamberlain)
TOR GOAL – 03:29 – Morris
MTL PEN – 16:31 – Harmon
TOR PEN – 16:31 – Webster
MTL PEN – 19:12 – Lach
MTL SH GOAL – 19:59 – Blake (Chamberlain, Lamoureux)

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 14:07 – Chamberlain
TOR PEN – 14:07 – Pratt, holding

MTL – Durnan (W)
TOR – Bibeault (L)

MTLGoaltenders: Bill Durnan. Defence: Butch Bouchard, Glen Harmon. Forwards: Toe Blake (C), Murph Chamberlain, Bob Fillion, Ray Getliffe, Elmer Lach, Leo Lamoureux, 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, Ted Kennedy, Bud Poile, Don Webster.

MTL – 29-4-7 (.813)
TOR – 19-19-4 (.500)