Game 234 – Canadiens 1, Maple Leafs 0

Game 234
Canadiens 1, Maple Leafs 0
Wednesday, February 26, 1947
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

A first period goal by hardworking Jimmy Peters, scored on a breakaway at a time when the Toronto Maple Leafs had the opposition backed into their own end of the rink, gave the defending world champion Montréal Canadiens a 1-0 victory in a close checking game before 14,280 fans at Maple Leaf Gardens last night.

The win gave the Montréalers a seven point lead and, with the top two teams each having less than a dozen games to play, virtually assured them of another NHL title. Although they have tied several games, this was Les Habitants’ first victory since Elmer Lach suffered a fractured skull in a game against the Leafs at Montréal three weeks ago.

For the first five minutes the Leafs, making a comeback bid to regain the top spot they held for the first half of the schedule, poured rubber into the Montréal zone. They did everything but score on at least four occasions before Broda was called upon to make a stop.

Then Peters broke up a four man attack by taking the puck away from rookie Bill Barilko at centre ice. He rushed down the right boards and blasted a low shot past the Toronto netminder’s short side. It was the Canadiens’ first shot on the net.

After that, the whole complexion of the contest changed. Montréal elected to play it close to the vest and wait for openings. The result was that for the next 10 minutes, both teams came up with some of the worst hockey played at the Gardens this year.

The Leafs particularly appeared disorganized. However, they rallied during the next two periods and tried every trick of the trade to get the equalizer, but could not overcome the determined checking game of the Red Shirts, who seemed to have two men on every puck carrier.

“Bill Durnan saved us in the first period,” Montréal coach Dick Irvin commented after the game.

The big netminder, only nine games away from winning his fourth Vézina Trophy, played a terrific game, especially in the action packed first few minutes. He blocked close in shots from each of the three forward combinations iced by coach Happy Day.

The Leafs’ most powerful line was the youthful trio of Ted Kennedy, Howie Meeker and Joe Klukay, but they were kept off the scoring sheet by the relentless work of Murph Chamberlain, Kenny Mosdell and Peters, three men mainly responsible for the Montréal victory.

Every time the KMK kids hit the ice, out would come Murph and his pals and on several occasions, each team made several line changes at a faceoff in an effort to cross off the opposition strategy.

The ever dangerous and high scoring Punch Line was held in check by Syl Apps, Harry Watson and Bill Ezincki. At that only bad back kept the mighty Rocket from scoring at least twice on breakaways. The first time, he was caught by the fast skating Gus Mortson, while on the very next rush had Broda beaten, but hit the post.

Apps and Meeker were the best Toronto performers. Irvin, who, prior to last night’s game, had belittled the playing of the Toronto right wing star, volunteered his opinion that Meeker was the best Leaf performer. Gaye Stewart, working on a line with the Metz brothers, Nick and Don, played better than in recent games. He made a beautiful rush through the Montréal team late in the second period, and set the puck up in front of the Montréal net. Both the Metz brothers swiped at the disc, but missed.

NOTES: Seven French Canadian sportswriters accompanied the Montréal team, and were so elated by the victory they conceded the NHL title to their heroes after the game…Wally Stanowski continues to be the favourite of the fans with his dipsy-doodle rushes…A large portion of the crowd spent the evening booing Bill Ezinicki every time he appeared. Visibly disturbed by the loudly voiced and unwarranted show of bad sportsmanship, the hard hitting right winger still came up with a good game and handed out some damaging body checks. The fans found displeasure when he looked bad on two of three bad stick handling efforts in the second period. Apparently it is the young player’s deceptive habit of looking as though he is disinterested in the proceedings when actually he is trying his hardest that irritates the cash customers…Both teams left after the game for Thursday assignments. The Leafs play in Detroit, while the Canadiens returned home to tackle the flying Chicago Black Hawks…”That was such a tough game I don’t think either of us will win tomorrow night,” Irvin commented…Harry Watson came out of the fray with a badly bruised optic, administered by the butt end of Richard’s stick. Roger Leger, the Montréal rearguard, injured his shoulder.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, February 27, 1947

1st Period
MTL PEN – 01:42 – Blake
MTL GOAL – 05:27 – Peters
TOR PEN – 05:51 – Apps

2nd Period

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 07:53 – Allen

MTL – Durnan (W + SO)
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, Leo Lamoureux, 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), Bill Ezinicki, Ted Kennedy, Joe Klukay, Howie Meeker, Don Metz, Nick Metz, Bud Poile, Sid Smith, Gaye Stewart, Harry Watson.

MTL – 29-13-9 (.657)
TOR – 26-16-8 (.600)