Playoff Game 08 – Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 1

Playoff Game 08
Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 1
Stanley Cup Semifinals, Game 4
Tuesday, March 28, 1944
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Hap Day’s solid phalanx of “Little Davids” gave a dramatic demonstration of embarrassing Dick Irvin’s “Goliaths” for the better part of two periods at Maple Leaf Gardens last night. But at the finish, they had neither stones nor the strength to lay low the mighty giant.

After outplaying and outfighting the Montréal Canadiens in the fourth game of their Stanley Cup playoff series, a leg and body weary Toronto team yielded two late second period goals; came on again with a score of their own early in the third; but faded under the gruelling pace.

At the final gong the score was 4-1 for the Canadiens, now leading the best of seven series three games to one, and needing only a win on Montréal Forum ice Thursday to gain the trophy final.

A crowd of 13,270 watched Day’s younger and lighter band of Little Atoms storm through the first period at a furious pace. Unfortunately, all roads for the Leafs led to Toronto born Bill Durnan’s goal pads and ended there. Along the route, Day’s gamecocks bounced off Montréal’s heavyweight club wielders, came back for more, and were still punching at the finish when they could scarcely haul one skate after another.

The Leafs continued to outscrap, outhustle the vaunted Canadiens through the second period. The break that probably decided the contest came as the big clock hit the 15 minute mark.

Babe Pratt and Ted Kennedy broke loose from a Montréal drive. Pratt fed a pass to Kennedy, tearing in from right wing. Durnan was drawn out of his cage, Kennedy went sprawling as he fired a shot that bounced off the goal post. Pratt flipped the rolling rebound right past the cage. Kennedy crashed into the boards. A double scoring chance was blown, and as it developed, so was the game.

On the next play, the Canadiens scored out of a wild scramble in front of the sprawling Paul Bibeault. The scorer announced it Heffernan from Harmon and McMahon. It might easily have been Irvin from Gorman and Durnan, so confused was the goalmouth picture.

Less than two minutes later, the Canadiens were back with another goal, Blake from Watson and Chamberlain, and the Montréalers were victory bound.

The Canadiens were also tiring as the game hit the late stages of the second period, but they picked up after the two goal run.

There was a promising uplift for the weary Leafs early in the third period, when Jackie Hamilton raced through an unpatrolled Montréal defence to grab a sliding puck. But his shot floated over top of the cage, deflected by Durnan’s stick.

Toronto’s lease of life came when Ted Kennedy scored off a ganging play with Boothman and Pratt while Gerry Heffernan was in the cooler. Boothman and Kennedy were right back for successive shots at Durnan, but the Leafs weren’t destined for a break.

McLean was in the penalty box when Murph Chamberlain, one of the stars of the series, whirled down right wing on a long rink length solo for his first playoff tally.

To make Chamberlain’s evening complete, he registered the Garden’s longest goal on record at 19:48 in the third period for the 4-1 winning count. From a faceoff in the Montréal end, Chamberlain fired the puck into the Toronto cage. He shot from his own penalty line. Paul Bibeault had been taken out by Day during the faceoff in Montréal play, to make use of six men in the visiting zone. Under the “icing the puck” rule, such a shot gets official scoring okay, provided it enters the net. And it did.

King Clancy handled a rough, hard checking game well. He served out six penalties to the Leafs and seven to the Canadiens.

The highlight of the game, we thought, and typical of Toronto’s battling spirit, was the local stand against the Montréal machine early in the first period. Boothman and McLean were in the penalty box.

For two minutes Reg Hamilton, Elwin Morris and Jackie Hamilton checked the visitors dizzy. So dizzy that not a single puck landed against Bibeault’s pads. The Montréalers got two shots away. Morris stopped one, Reg Hamilton the other.

Don Webster was a one man defensive riot through the 60 minute grind. The 150 pounder couldn’t find anybody his own size, outside Clancy. So he picked on beekeeper Émile Bouchard, a mere 200 pounder: Mike McMahon, who nudges 195, and Ray Getliffe, who goes 180 and can reef an opponent like “Soo Bill” Phillips used to do for the Maroons.

Day’s top line of Bodnar, Carr and Davidson started out well in the first period, but faded. Kennedy, Boothman and Webster formed Toronto’s most effective puck pushing trio after that. Jackie Hamilton, O’Neill and McLean passed as well as at any time this winter, and they rode piggyback aboard every forward line Irvin tossed at them.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, March 29, 1944

1st Period
MTL PENS – Getliffe, Lamoureux
TOR PENS – Boothman, R. Hamilton, McLean

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 15:55 – Heffernan (Harmon, McMahon)
MTL GOAL – 18:45 – Blake (Watson, Chamberlain)

MTL PENS – Getliffe (2), Chamberlain
TOR PEN – Webster

3rd Period
TOR PP GOAL – 09:53 – Kennedy (Boothman, Pratt)
MTL PP GOAL – 12:57 – Chamberlain (Lamoureux)
MTL EN GOAL – 19:48 – Chamberlain

MTL PENS – Heffernan, McMahon
TOR PEN – McLean

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.