Playoff Game 20 – Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 1

Playoff Game 20
Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 1
Stanley Cup Finals, Game 5
Thursday, April 17, 1947
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

The overconfidence bug once again enveloped the youthful Toronto Maple Leafs here tonight, with disastrous results. The Torontonians, only 60 playing minutes away from the Stanley Cup when they started the game, succumbed weakly to a 3-1 defeat from the hands of the Montréal Canadiens.

The victory staved off NHL playoff elimination for the Montréalers, forcing a sixth game in Toronto Saturday night. The Leafs still lead the best of seven series three games to two.

It was a costly defeat for the visiting team from Ontario’s capital. Not only did they throw away a brilliant chance of becoming one of the youngest world champion hockey teams as of tonight, they also came out of the fray with two of their veteran performers injured.

Team captain Syl Apps suffered a badly bruised heel when he crashed into the boards behind the Canadiens net with terrific force in the second period. Dr. Bob Galloway said preliminary examination revealed little serious damage, and the star of the Tuesday overtime game in Toronto should be ready for the next tilt. The second Toronto casualty was Wally Stanowski, experienced defenceman who got into the action tonight after spending the last two games on the bench.

The dipsy-doodle kid hurt his shoulder late in the second period. He was booed as he lay on the ice, but managed to get his feet and play out the period. He did not return for the final session, and the club medico reported a possible shoulder dislocation. He will be X-rayed in Toronto tomorrow.

Individual star of the Montréal victory was the brilliant Maurice Richard. The Rocket, centre of the blood letting controversy in the second game of the series here last Thursday night, scored twice for the Redshirts, and came close on several occasions to adding to his total. He was a dangerous threat every time on the ice, playing well both ways. He backchecked better tonight than in any previous game of the series.

Giving Richard a run for top honours were his two linemates, Buddy O’Connor and the veteran team captain, Toe Blake. It was this trio, Montréal’s vaunted Punch Line, who bottled up the Leafs from the opening whistle. But for the inspired work of Turk Broda in the Toronto net, the defending titlist Canadiens might have run up a much higher score.

The third Montréal goal was scored by Léo Gravelle, who skated in from the Toronto blue line, slipped around two blue shirted players with ease, and pulled Broda out of position to shoot the puck into an empty net. The lax attitude of several Toronto players made Gravelle look much better on the play than he actually was.

The Canadiens scored twice in the first period, and got their third and final tally in the second, with Vic Lynn on the penalty bench.

The lone Toronto goal was scored by Bud Poile, whose rifle shot finished off a spectacular rink-length rush by Gaye Stewart. The latter played his best game of the current final round for Toronto, and was the outstanding Leaf performer. He shared three star selections with Richard and Durnan.

As Broda robbed Richard and his mates of half a dozen goals, so Durnan hexed the flying Stewart time and again. The Toronto left winger, the leading goal scorer of the 1945-46 season, had breakaway after breakaway, but was repeatedly thwarted by the Montréal team’s cool and efficient guardian of the twine.

The decision was never in doubt from the opening whistle. The Canadiens were by far the better team on the night’s play, but if only half of Stewart’s breakaways, with only the goalie to beat, had clicked, it might have been a different story.

In sharp contrast to recent games, Stewart was not overskating the puck. He was getting the passes from his linemates in proper style, but Durnan had his number from start to finish.

If the Canadiens pull this series out of the fire and go on to retain their world laurels, they will have one man to thank – Durnan.

Tonight’s game was not as impressive as the last two contests. The Canadiens looked better Tuesday night than they did tonight. At the same time, the Leafs looked that much worse. Most of the Montréal attack was carried by two forward combinations, the Punch Line and a trio composed of Murph Chamberlain, the old hard rock of many a playoff battle, Billy Reay and Jimmy Peters.

The Montréal defence quartet of Butch Bouchard, supposedly a non-starter with a leg injury up until game time; Kenny Reardon, Roger Leger and rookie Frankie Eddolls, gave Durnan almost airtight support. The Canadiens actually dressed five defencemen, but the fifth rearguard, Glen Harmon, was used sparingly. Frankie Eddolls replaced Johnny Quilty, as coach Dick Irvin sacrificed his strength up front for additional protection behind the blue line. The strategy was successful in prolonging the series.

Aside from Stewart’s work and Broda in the net, little can be said of the Toronto performance. It is to be hoped the Leafs got another sad game out of their system. Twice since the playoffs began, they have looked very bad in defeat and then bounced back with renewed vigour to carry all the opposition before them. They will have to look 100 percent when this weirdest of all playoff battles is renewed in Toronto Saturday.

The KLM line of Ted Kennedy, Vic Lynn and Howie Meeker gave the Montréalers most of what opposition the losers were able to offer, but they showed little finish around the net. The Leafs’ third line of Poile, Stewart and Don Metz played well in spots.

The big disappointment was the performance of Bill Ezinicki. He played his first really bad road game of several months. He was listless and far from his usual body-bruising self. After Apps was hurt, Joe Klukay centred the Leafs’ number one line, but it was strictly a two man line. Harry Watson tried hard, but he carried a big load tonight.

The game was handled by referee King Clancy, who had a comparatively easy evening, in sharp contrast to the gruelling struggle his workmate, Bill Chadwick, coped with the last time the teams played in the Forum. Nine minor penalties were handed out, five to the Leafs. Jimmy Thomson got the thumb three times, while Bouchard went off twice for the Canadiens. There was very little rough play, the participants not even bothering to glare at each other.What little pushing did develop was half-hearted. The only untoward incident was when Kennedy and Richard started pushing. Clancy stopped the play, but did not send anybody off. Richard started to argue, but was pulled away from the official by Reardon.

The Leafs and their large delegation of Toronto supporters left for home immediately after the game. The Canadiens will follow tomorrow afternoon. The game was witnessed by 12,808 perspiring fans, 12 less than the season’s record established here in the second game Thursday night.

Should the Canadiens defeat the Leafs Saturday, the seventh and final game will be played here next Tuesday.

The historic Stanley Cup, which was brought out of the Forum vault and displayed in a downtown store here this week, will be taken to Toronto for the Saturday game.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, April 18, 1947

1st Period
MTL GOAL – 01:23 – Richard (Blake, Bouchard)
TOR PEN – 02:38 – Stewart
MTL PEN – 05:32 – Bouchard
MTL GOAL – 08:29 – Gravelle (Leger)
TOR PEN – 09:21 – Boesch
MTL PEN – 11:43 – Reay
TOR PEN – 14:03 – Thomson

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 07:11 – Thomson
MTL PEN – 07:31 – Bouchard
TOR PEN – 18:52 – Thomson
MTL PP GOAL – 19:32 – Richard (Blake, O’Connor)

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 05:17 – Peters
TOR GOAL – 13:37 – Poile (Stewart)

MTL – Durnan (W)
TOR – Broda (L)

MTLGoaltenders: Bill Durnan, Floyd Perras. Defence: Butch Bouchard, Frank Eddolls, Glen Harmon, Roger Leger, Ken Reardon. Forwards: George Allen, Toe Blake (C), Murph Chamberlain, Bob Fillion, Léo Gravelle, Murdo MacKay, Buddy O’Connor, Jimmy Peters, Billy Reay, Maurice Richard.
TORGoaltenders: Gordie Bell, Turk Broda. Defence: Bill Barilko, Garth Boesch, Gus Mortson, Wally Stanowski, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: Syl Apps (C), Bill Ezinicki, Ted Kennedy, Joe Klukay, Vic Lynn, Howie Meeker, Don Metz, Bud Poile, Gaye Stewart, Harry Watson.