Game 202 – Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 2

Game 202
Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 2
Saturday, March 4, 1944
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Twice in the first period, Hap Day’s Toronto Leafs rode with a one goal edge on the Montréal Canadiens to a rough and ready puck contest at Maple Leaf Gardens Saturday night. But at the finish, the heavier, older and more experienced Montréalers had a 5-2 decision to their credit.

It was a jolt, jab and sock affair most of the route, with Day’s youngsters frequently overmatched in the wrestling and boxing exchanges with the Montréal behemoths like McMahon and Bouchard.

Referee Bill Chadwick dealt out 14 penalties, four of them majors, and at one stage of the second period, Whistler William had five players in the cooler.

Tipoff on the battling spirit of the Leafs came in the second period when Lorne Carr, an outstanding candidate for the Lady Byng Trophy this winter, and one of the cleanest performers the NHL has ever had, elected to belt some of the nonsense out of the head of the temperamental Phil Watson. Roused by Watson’s checking methods, Carr chased the Canadien centre halfway across the rink behind the south end goal. Lorne rode his aggravator piggyback style for 15 feet, took a vicious swipe with his stick, and then started slugging. It cost him a five minute penalty, but he looked as if he felt a lot better for the outburst.

What stirred the Leafs more than anything else was the bullying tactics of the heavyweight Émile Bouchard early in the second period. Bouchard picked on 140 pound Gus Bodnar, Toronto’s rookie centre. It was too much for Bob Davidson, who went to the rescue of his young partner. Seven of the 14 penalties developed out of Bouchard’s attack on the Toronto youngster.

Bud Poile and Fernand Majeau touched off the last spark of belligerence late in the third period with a stand up slugging match. Their end of the “purse” was a major penalty apiece and loud cheers from the customers.

Babe Pratt and Tommy O’Neill supplied the Toronto goals that twice had the homesters in front of the league leaders. Babe uncovered a solo flight soon after the opening faceoff for the benefit of another Gardens sellout crowd of 12,543. Maurice Richard followed with the first of two goals in his second outstanding performance in a row on Toronto ice.

O’Neill had the Leafs on top 2-1 when he put the scoring touch to a ganging attack while McMahon was in the penalty box. The Canadiens had caught up again before the close of the period, with Toe Blake sinking Richard’s rebound.

Richard made it 3-2 for the Canadiens 47 seconds after the second period opened. A minute later, Elmer Lach scored off a play with Blake and Richard.

The fifth Canadiens goal was collected by Heffernan after a neat passing exchange with Majeau and O’Connor midway through the third period.

Although Toronto’s spirit was willing, the Leafs didn’t have enough hockey weapons to cope with the National League’s best team. By the third period, the locals were a tired aggregation. It was Paul Bibeault’s alertness in the Leaf basket that held the Canadiens to the five goal count. He snatched away half a dozen goals from his former Montréal mates on wide open plays. Chamberlain was Bibeault’s most frequent goalmouth visitor, but couldn’t draw a point. The official scorer credited Bibeault with 41 saves.

O’Neill, Jackie Hamilton and Jackie McLean spread a backchecking blanket over Montréal’s front line of Watson, Chamberlain and Fillion. The latter worked at right wing in place of Ray Getliffe, who did not make the Toronto trip.

Four of the five Montréal goals were scored against Toronto’s forward combination of Davidson, Bodnar and Carr.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, March 6, 1944

1st Period
TOR GOAL – 01:23 – Pratt

MTL GOAL – 08:40 – Richard
TOR PP GOAL – 11:08 – O’Neill (McLean, J. Hamilton)
MTL GOAL – 15:36 – Blake (Richard)
MTL PENS – Blake, McMahon
TOR PENS – Davidson, R. Hamilton, Morris

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 00:48 – Richard (Lamoureux)
MTL GOAL – 01:43 – Lach (Richard, Lamoureux)

MTL PENS – Bouchard (major), Watson
TOR PENS – Carr (major), McLean, O’Neill

3rd Period
MTL GOAL – 09:11 – Heffernan (O’Connor, Majeau)

MTL PENS – Majeau (major), Fillion, Heffernan
TOR PEN – Poile (major)

MTL – Durnan (W)
TOR – Bibeault (L)

MTLGoaltenders: Bill Durnan. Defence: Butch Bouchard, Mike McMahon. Forwards: Toe Blake (C), Murph Chamberlain, Bob Fillion, Gerry Heffernan, Elmer Lach, Leo Lamoureux, Fern Majeau, Buddy O’Connor, Maurice Richard, Phil Watson.
TORGoaltenders: Paul Bibeault. Defence: Reg Hamilton, Moe Morris, Babe Pratt. Forwards: Gus Bodnar, George Boothman, Lorne Carr, Bob Davidson (C), Jackie Hamilton, Ted Kennedy, Jack McLean, Tom O’Neill, Bud Poile.

MTL – 32-4-7 (.826)
TOR – 20-21-4 (.489)