Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 2
Saturday, February 16, 1946
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, ON
Three first period Habitant goals deprived Walter “Babe” Pratt of an opportunity to enact a Merriwell role Saturday night at the Gardens, as the Leafs dropped a 4-2 decision to the Canadiens, and lost further ground to the Detroit Red Wings, who garnered a point by virtue of their 3-3 tie with Chicago.
The largest paid attendance of the season – 13,363 – was on deck, the majority no doubt hoping the big Babe would by some trick of fate emerge as the hero of the piece.
Although Pratt gave everything he had, playing one of his best games, it was not to be. Babe did, however, set up the plays which enabled Nick Metz and Bob Davidson to hit the target for the two Leaf counters.
A first period hooking penalty to Wally Stanowski paved the way for the Canadiens’ victory. While Stanowski was in the cubicle, Peters and Lach netted in succession in less than a minute. These goals, combined with the goaling artistry of Bill Durnan, were the difference between victory and defeat.
From the standpoint of Toronto fans, most of the action was crammed into the third period, when the Leafs played their best hockey. With less than a minute to go, the Canadiens’ margin was only a single counter. At this point, coach “Hap” Day benched Broda.
Captain Syl Apps delayed the faceoff for several seconds, as he placed his squad in what he believed to be the best strategic positions. The Leafs did manage to capture the faceoff, but the resultant shot sped by one of the posts.
Again with 40 seconds remaining, Day pulled Broda from the nets to put on a six man attack. Seven seconds later, Toe Blake golfed the puck from his own blueline, and it sailed into the net for the fourth and deciding marker. It was one of those chances a coach must take. As it was, the gods had decreed otherwise.
Apparently content to protect their two goal margin, the Canadiens laid back and waited for the breaks throughout the second period, the while back checking in determined fashion.
Maurice Richard counted the visitors’ first goal, after taking a pass from Elmer Lach at the 3:06 mark. That was the only rocketing Mons. Richard did during the rest of the frolic. Lach, however, was a continuous scoring threat and made more individual sorties into Leaf territory than the rest of the visitors combined.
As has been the case in the past month, the Taylor, Stewart, Bodnar line was the Leafs’ most dangerous scoring threat. Although kept off the score sheet, Taylor’s timing of delayed passes, a phase of the game at which he excels, was never seen to better advantage. Taylor forced the Canadiens’ defencemen practically into their own crease before letting his passes go to an uncovered mate. Durnan’s uncanny ability to judge just where a scoring threat will end was all that kept Taylor from scoring. At the other end, Broda gave an effective, if not as polished, an exhibition as Durnan.
It’s not often a goal can be pushed between Durnan’s legs, but that’s the way Bob Davidson notched the Leafs’ second of the night. Following a scramble, Durnan momentarily lost the puck. It was only a foot out from the crease. Bob pushed it between Bill’s legs as he strove to pull ’em together in time. Durnan’s best stop materialized early in the third frame, when Stanowski fed Syl Apps a perfect pass inside. Syl gunned for the far low side, but Durnan got the tip of one of his boots on it.
At the 10:59 mark of the third period, following a scramble in front of the Canadien net, the goal light was flashed on – then off. The Leafs thought they had scored, but referee Bill Chadwick ruled the puck had hit the post. The usual shower of programs greeted the decision, but the ruling stood, just as it always does. In case there’s any doubt in your mind – the puck did not enter the net. A Leafian spokesman is authority for that.
Lach, O’Connor and Harmon stood out for the Canucks. Goldham’s thumping bodychecks were relished by the hometown fans, if not the visitors. Stewart was always in there trying, but was watched very closely. Jackie Hamilton fought all the way, as did Gus Bodnar, who deserved a goal at least for his efforts. The Babe also did his share, possibly a little more.
Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, February 18, 1946
MTL GOAL – 03:08 – Richard (Lach)
MTL PEN – 05:18 – Lach
TOR PEN – 05:18 – Taylor
MTL PEN – 06:10 – Reardon
TOR PP GOAL – 07:20 – Metz (Apps, Pratt)
TOR PEN – 13:38 – Stanowski, hooking
MTL PP GOAL – 14:25 – Peters (Reay)
MTL PP GOAL – 15:36 – Lach (Bouchard)
MTL PEN – 04:55 – Richard
TOR GOAL – 06:22 – Davidson (Pratt, Hamilton)
TOR PEN – 08:05 – Goldham
MTL PEN – 13:06 – Benoit
MTL EN GOAL – 19:33 – Blake
MTL – Durnan (W)
TOR – Broda (L)
MTL – Goaltenders: 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.
TOR – Goaltenders: Turk Broda. Defence: Bob Goldham, Moe Morris, Babe Pratt, Wally Stanowski. Forwards: Syl Apps (C), Gus Bodnar, Lorne Carr, Bob Davidson, Bill Ezinicki, Jackie Hamilton, Nick Metz, Sweeney Schriner, Gaye Stewart, Billy Taylor.