Playoff Game 07 – Canadiens 2, Maple Leafs 1

Playoff Game 07
Canadiens 2, Maple Leafs 1
Stanley Cup Semifinals, Game 3
Saturday, March 25, 1944
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Still short on a scoring punch but long on spirit, the Toronto Leafs are one game down to the Montréal Canadiens in a Stanley Cup playoff series that has already produced some of the wildest incidents in a couple decades of postseason competition.

Saturday night at Maple Leaf Gardens, a faster, stronger and more experienced team of the Canadiens needed a lucky first period goal to carry them to a 2-1 decision in the third game of the best of seven set. Glen Harmon propelled the dancing disk from outside the penalty shot marker. It caromed into the Toronto cage of Ted Kennedy’s skate. The blow didn’t kill the Leaf spirit, but it rocked them back on their heels and, despite a sensational second period recovery, they didn’t pack enough strength to handle the powerful opposition.

George Boothman climaxed Toronto’s second period stand with a goal to knot the score at 1-1. Midway through the third period, Ray Getliffe went into a razzle-dazzle passing bout with Murph Chamberlain and Phil Watson for a goal that gave the Canadiens their one game edge in the series.

Referee Bill Chadwick, labelled early in the season by coach Hap Day of the Leafs as a “weak kneed” arbiter, and re-stamped with the same tag after Thursday’s weird show in Montréal, was a conspicuous operator at the Gardens Saturday.

With instructions from managing director Red Dutton of the NHL, one of the game spectators, to deal with the athletes with an iron hand, Chadwick went the limit. He swung the official thumb for 16 penalties, nine to the Canadiens, seven to the Leafs. The best that could be said is Chadwick was impartial. He shooed at least two Montréalers, Harmon and Watson, for no particular reason, and dealt out equally cheap sentences to Webster and O’Neill.

Whistler Chadwick’s penalty counts, fortunately, did not have any direct bearing on the scoreboard. Clubs were all full strength when the three goals were produced. But physically, the Leafs suffered plenty from the sentences. The younger, lighter and less experienced locals find it tough enough trying to keep up with the Canadiens while at full strength.

One of the surprise performers for the Leafs has been George Boothman, the think man that right hands his way on left wing for Ted Kennedy.

Durnan came through with his niftiest netminding of the three games in the second and third periods Saturday. The result was a nerve tingling parade of events around the goals.

Toronto’s greatest defensive stand against the hard skating Habitants came in the first period. At one stage in this dizzy penalty box chapter, the Leafs had three men in the cooler. Kennedy was chased for tripping at 12:05. McLean followed at 12:49. The building was in an uproar when Chadwick chased Babe Pratt after Babe and Bibeault had done a puck hiding act in front of the Toronto cage.

Jackie Hamilton, Gus Bodnar, Reg Hamilton and Elwin Morris divided the defence burdens in front of Bibeault in as spirited a stand as local customers have seen in years. At one stage, young Bodnar looked like a man with outboard motors on his skates, as he annoyed the five man Montréal attackers moving in on the Toronto defence zone.

Jackie McLean was given the important assignment of hounding Maurice “Five-Goal” Richard. Occasionally, Bob Davidson spelled him off. But Richard didn’t look anything like the shadow of Howie Morenz Montréal writers had been claiming. Richard had another forward line roving commission. He seldom carried the puck more than a couple of strides. He had three good shots at Bibeault. Twice Elwin Morris, trapped alone in the Toronto defence zone, handled the fast moving visitor like Eddie Shore.

Early in the third period, Richard was rapped over the back of the head during a scrimmage in front of the Montréal nets. He put both hands over his noggin, forgot about the play, and headed for the Montréal bench. Apparently Maurice has a heavy top piece, for the trainer had difficulty finding the bump.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, March 27, 1944

1st Period
MTL GOAL – 09:58 – Harmon

MTL PENS – Watson (2), Getliffe, Heffernan, Lamoureux
TOR PENS – R. Hamilton, Kennedy, McLean, Pratt

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 08:06 – Boothman (Kennedy, Pratt)

MTL PENS – Bouchard, Getliffe, Harmon
TOR PENS – Davidson, Webster

3rd Period
MTL GOAL – 09:43 – Getliffe (Watson, Chamberlain)

MTL PEN – Harmon
TOR PEN – O’Neill

MTL – Durnan (W)
TOR – Bibeault (L)

MTLGoaltenders: Bill Durnan. Defence: Butch Bouchard, Glen Harmon, Mike McMahon. Forwards: Toe Blake (C), Murph Chamberlain, Ray Getliffe, Gerry Heffernan, Elmer Lach, Leo Lamoureux, 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, Don Webster.