Game 231 – Canadiens 8, Maple Leafs 2

Game 231
Canadiens 8, Maple Leafs 2
Thursday, February 6, 1947
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

Apparently angered by a first period injury to star centre player Elmer Lach, the high flying Montréal Canadiens set the Toronto Maple Leafs back on their heels 8-2 tonight before 12,341 screaming fans in the Montréal Forum.

In extending their National Hockey League leadership to five points over the second place Leafs, the Canadiens gave a masterful display of two way hockey.

The game never was in doubt after the first 10 minutes, with the Leafs coming up with their worst display of the season. It was the highest score recorded against the Leafs this season.

In the rough brawl, with fights breaking out in the first and last periods, a total of 17 penalties, including two misconducts, were handed out by referee George Gravel.

For 10 minutes the game was close – then Don Metz sent Lach flying with a terrific body check. The Montréal players truck his head on the ice and was knocked unconscious. He was carried from the rink and taken to hospital, where it was later reported he was suffering from concussion. He was still unconscious in the Western General Hospital at 11 p.m.

From then on, it looked as though the Montréalers were out for revenge, and they had it thanks to a sorry Toronto display. At that the breaks helped, with the Dick Irvin coached squad unable to do a thing wrong. The puck seemed to be magnetized by their sticks all night long, while the Leafs blundered along, making mistake after mistake.

The wildest action took place during the first four or five minutes, and tempers of fans as well as players became heated. Conn Smythe, the Leafs’ managing director back from a Florida vacation, sat in a rail seat and looked like the Smythe of prewar days, as he screamed at the officials, challenged spectators and managed to bash in a perfectly good felt hat.

A spectator flung a program at the Toronto manager after the game, and Smythe had to be restrained from starting after his adversary.

All of the Montréal team played a heads-up game, with the one and only Rocket Richard pacing the attack. Toe Blake was exceptional, as were Buddy O’Connor, Billy Reay and Léo Gravelle, to mention only a few.

Despite pregame rumours, the Canadiens were practically at full strength, with Kenny Reardon back in the lineup. Leo Lamoureux, the Habitant rearguard, was out with an injury.

All Leaf lines functioned badly. The Toronto team introduced two rookies to NHL competition. Sid Smith, a Toronto boy up from the Pittsburgh Hornets, played at left wing with Ted Kennedy and Howie Meeker. Bill Barilko, up from the Hollywood Wolves, played on defence, and was a bright spot in the Toronto cause with his ability to hit the opposition. Twice in the last period he sent big Butch Bouchard flying.

The opening 20 minutes produced some of the weirdest hockey observed in NHL play this year. From the opening whistle, the players of each squad came out fighting mad, and harder checking and charging has seldom been seen.

It was so wild it took a quarter of an hour to play the first four minutes, and a total of eight penalties were handed out by perspiring referee Gravel during the period. After the first few minutes of rugged action the Leafs became disorganized, and by the time the exciting session was over, the supposedly weakened Canadiens led 4-0.

The time clock had hardly started moving before there was indication of another dog-bite-dog affair. Murph Chamberlain was sent off at 1:15 for tripping Apps, and 19 seconds later Bill Ezinicki and Bouchard were banished for fighting. This brawl ultimately involved 12 players and a spectator, who got in a hard smash at Jimmy Thomson.

Then Barilko hit Richard and joined the crowd on the penalty bench. The Leafs were a man short when Don Metz hit Elmer Lach a terrific jolt and got the thumb.

The Leafs were two men short when the Canadiens got their first. Richard laid down a nice pass in front of the Toronto net, and Chamberlain popped it in.

When Richard swung his stick into Thomson’s face, tempers flared again. Out of this mixup, Glen Harmon and Gus Mortson received minors.

The sides were at full strength when Harmon scored the second Canadien goal at 11:33. Montréal scored two more in the next six minutes, Richard and Léo Gravelle beating busy Turk Broda as the Leafs were forced back into their own zone.

The rout continued in the second period. The hard hitting Bouchard scored from the blue line at 5:36 of the middle period, with Jimmy Peters passing the puck back to him. Turk Broda performed acrobatic feats to keep Richard out on two occasions within the next few minutes.

The next goal came when the Leafs were caught with five men deep in the Montréal zone and Gravelle took a baseball swing at the puck, sending it skidding up the ice. The Canadiens’ candidate for rookie award honours won the race for the disc, and then passed out to Billy Reay, uncovered in front of the Toronto net. Three Leafs had attempted to take Gravelle out of the play.

Two and a half minutes later, Buddy O’Connor and Richard combined on a neat passing play to make it 7-0. O’Connor was the scorer.

The middle session was comparatively clean, with only three penalties – two to the Leafs – but the final frame, which saw the Leafs spoil Bill Durnan’s chance of a shutout, also saw a resumption of roughness.

The game had lost much of its sting when, with less than 10 minutes remaining, Bud Poile and Bouchard collided. They continued their argument on the way to the penalty bench, with their teammates joining in. Mosdell and Mortson came out of the ensuing fray with 10 minute misconducts.

Both teams were a man short when Kenny Reardon took a running charge at Don Metz, then was penalized for high sticking.

Both Toronto goals were scored in the final period. Bill Ezinicki beat Durnan with a shot from 10 feet out after hesitating for several seconds. Twenty one seconds later, Blake got that one back with Richard again the playmaker. Captain Syl Apps got the Leafs’ final counter at 14:32, scooping the puck in.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, February 7, 1947

1st Period
MTL PEN – 01:15 – Chamberlain
MTL PEN – 01:36 – Bouchard
TOR PEN – 01:36 – Ezinicki
TOR PEN – 03:48 – Barilko
TOR PEN – 04:30 – D. Metz
MTL PP2 GOAL – 05:09 – Chamberlain (Richard, Leger)
MTL PEN – 05:22 – Harmon
TOR PEN – 05:22 – Mortson
MTL PEN – 08:25 – Blake
MTL GOAL – 11:33 – Harmon (Allen)
MTL GOAL – 15:04 – Richard (O’Connor)
MTL GOAL – 17:32 – Gravelle (Reay)

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 05:36 – Bouchard (Peters)
TOR PEN – 10:45 – Stewart
MTL PEN – 13:46 – Mosdell
TOR PEN – 13:46 – Thomson
MTL GOAL – 16:10 – Reay (Gravelle)
MTL GOAL – 18:40 – O’Connor (Richard)

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 01:27 – Peters
TOR PEN – 01:27 – Mortson
TOR GOAL – 03:02 – Ezinicki (Kennedy)
MTL GOAL – 03:23 – Blake (Richard)
MTL PEN – 11:35 – Bouchard
TOR PEN – 11:35 – Poile
MTL PEN – 11:35 – Mosdell, game misconduct
TOR PEN – 11:35 – Mortson, game misconduct
MTL PEN – 12:43 – Reardon, high sticking
TOR PP GOAL – 14:32 – Apps (Stanowski)

MTL – Durnan (W)
TOR – Broda (L)

MTLGoaltenders: Bill Durnan. Defence: Butch Bouchard, Glen Harmon, Roger Leger, Ken Reardon. Forwards: George Allen, Toe Blake (C), Murph Chamberlain, Bob Fillion, Léo Gravelle, Elmer Lach, Kenny Mosdell, Buddy O’Connor, Jimmy Peters, Billy Reay, Maurice Richard.
TORGoaltenders: Turk Broda. Defence: Bill Barilko, Gus Mortson, Wally Stanowski, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: Syl Apps (C), Gus Bodnar, Bill Ezinicki, Ted Kennedy, Howie Meeker, Don Metz, Nick Metz, Bud Poile, Sid Smith, Gaye Stewart, Harry Watson.

MTL – 27-12-5 (.670)
TOR – 24-13-6 (.628)