Game 218 – Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 2

Game 218
Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 2
Wednesday, December 26, 1945
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

With a background provided by Bill Durnan’s brilliant goaltending, the Montréal Canadiens had a little bit too much of everything as they defeated the Toronto Leafs at the Gardens last night, 4-2. The crowd was 13,264.

The Canadiens were in front 2-1 after the first period, and 4-2 after two. There was no scoring in the final 20 minute stretch. It was a good hockey display by Canada’s last surviving members of major pro hockey, but the Canadiens had too much wallop most of the route.

I thought Bill Durnan, the ambidextrous Montréal netminder, gave another sharp demonstration of puck stopping deluxe. If he isn’t the greatest goalie the game has developed out of its slap-happy wartime rules, then it’s time for the reincarnation of Chicoutimi’s Georges Vézina.

Toe Blake and Billy Reay scored for the Canadiens in the opening period, while Gus Bodnar counted for the Leafs. Syl Apps tied the game at 2-2 early in the second period. Joe Benoit settled the issue with two unassisted tallies against a bad-checking Toronto defensive system.

I don’t suppose many Toronto teams have tried any harder than the Leafs of last night. But the Leafs didn’t have the finishing touch, as they played their fourth game in five nights.

Although the Canadiens needed a manpower edge for their first goal, they outplayed the Leafs through a ding-dong opening period. The count was 2-1 for the NHL pacemakers after the 20 minute stretch. Toe Blake scored off Maurice Richard’s rebound, while Sweeney Schriner and Billy Taylor of the Leafs and Dutch Hiller were in the cooler. Gus Bodnar tied it up while Jimmy Peters was in the penalty box. Billy Reay put Montréal in front 2-1 off a play engineered by Peters just after he quit the penalty bench.

It was a hard skating period in which good netminding stood out. From the press box, it looked as if Frank McCool misjudged Reay’s shot that put the visitors in front. Peters shook off several stiff jolts as he lugged the puck into Toronto territory for Reay’s sniping play.

The Leafs were without Mel Hill and Babe Pratt, weekend casualties. Moe Morris and Ernie Dickens formed one Toronto defence combination. Gus Bodnar was the right wing mate for Gaye Stewart and Syl Apps.

Apps put the Leafs back in the running with a goal less than two minutes after the second period opened.

Joe Benoit, back with the Montréalers this winter after an army stretch, answered with two goals. The period ended with the Canadiens in front, 4 to 2.

Although the Leafs took a new lease after the Apps goal, the Canadiens packed more punch than the homesters. It was another hard skating period in which the Montréalers had the edge.

Murph Chamberlain, the aggressive Montréal forward, suffered a nasty skate wound in the right foot early in the first period. He was taken to Wellesley Hospital for treatment.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, December 27, 1945

1st Period
MTL PEN – 01:57 – Hiller
TOR PEN – 01:57 – Taylor
TOR PEN – 02:37 – Schriner
MTL PP GOAL – 03:51 – Blake (Richard)
MTL PEN – 06:45 – Peters
TOR PP GOAL – 07:45 – Bodnar (Apps, Stewart)
MTL GOAL – 09:01 – Reay (Peters)

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 01:50 – Apps
MTL GOAL – 06:50 – Benoit
MTL GOAL – 12:07 – Benoit

3rd Period

MTL – Durnan (W)
TOR – McCool (L)

MTLGoaltenders: Bill Durnan. Defence: Butch Bouchard, Glen Harmon, Ken Reardon. Forwards: Joe Benoit, Toe Blake (C), Murph Chamberlain, Bob Fillion, Dutch Hiller, Elmer Lach, Leo Lamoureux, Buddy O’Connor, Jimmy Peters, Billy Reay, Maurice Richard.
TORGoaltenders: Frank McCool. Defence: Ernie Dickens, Bob Goldham, Moe Morris, Wally Stanowski. Forwards: Syl Apps (C), Gus Bodnar, Lorne Carr, Bob Davidson, Jackie Hamilton, Ted Kennedy, Nick Metz, Sweeney Schriner, Gaye Stewart, Billy Taylor.

MTL – 13-6-2 (.667)
TOR – 7-14-3 (.354)