Game 241 – Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 1

Game 241
Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 1
Thursday, January 1, 1948
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Toronto’s hockey Leafs ushered in a New Year in successful style with an important 2-1 victory over the spirited Montréal Canadiens at the Gardens last night.

The Leafs needed that win to maintain their slim two point advantage over the high flying Detroit Red Wings, who have a game advantage over the NHL loop leaders. For 59 minutes and 30 seconds, the Leafs gave out with a spectacular display of aggressive two way hockey to the delight of a holiday sellout crowd of 13,437.

But, as has been the case too often in the past, they suffered a near disastrous letdown with seconds remaining to pave the way for the lone Montréal goal, and rob Turk Broda of a well deserved shutout.

It was a hard fought battle with plenty of pleasing hockey. Although their third defeat in Toronto this season skidded them into fifth place in the championship race, the Canadiens were a much better outfit than the team the Leafs defeated 3-0 in Montréal Christmas Day. The losers showed definite signs of regaining their old spirited type of play, and came close to tying the game at the end.

The most exciting action occurred in the first 20 minutes, with much of the old slam-bang Leaf-Canadien feuding keeping the fans in constant state of excitement. From the opening play when Ken Reardon ran at Syl Apps, the pace was fast and furious.

For a while, it appeared that the game might develop into a fist throwing riot, but little George Gravel officiated with a firm thumb, handling the game so well that the chappies inclined to roughhouse, especially Ken Reardon, settled down to play hockey after the opening 20 minutes.

Gravel issued sex penalties in the first period, three to Reardon. After that he had little trouble, and the fans saw some fast, exciting, but legal hockey.

Both teams came out of the fray with casualties. Tod Campeau, recalled by the Canadiens from Buffalo last weekend, dislocated his left shoulder for the third time this season. He remained behind in Wellesley Hospital to have the injured bone reset.

Max Bentley complained of a stiff neck after the game. He was winded when checked by Roger Leger early in the first period. However, he played the rest of the game, but later in the dressing room could hardly move his neck. He scored the second Toronto goal on a nice passing play near the end of the second period, and set up the other tally.

A hooking penalty to Reardon paved the way for the first Toronto score in the first period. On the next play, Vic Lynn deflected Jimmy Thomson’s pass into the net, with point man Bentley starting it all on a ganging attack.

Bentley’s goal came at 18:27 of the middle period, when he expertly slipped between Butch Bouchard and Reardon to take Joe Klukay’s pass and beat Bill Durnan with a shot from close range. Newcomer Sid Smith set up the play at the blueline.

The Canadiens never gave up, and had an edge in play in the last period. They pressed to the attack time and again, but found a formidable defence in Bill Barilko and Wally Stanowski and Thomson and Gus Mortson. Stanowski and Mortson came up with one of their best two-way efforts of the season.

The visitors finally scored when Glen Harmon, who doubled in brass as defenceman and forward, took a pass in the centre ice zone to skate in with his check, Howie Meeker, alongside of him. Meeker could not take the player out, and Harmon’s shot hit the goalpost and skidded into the net behind a disappointed Broda.

Joe Klukay, Ted Kennedy and Bentley topped the Leafian forwards with their hard work. All had good scoring chances, but Bill Durnan came up with an amazing performance in the Montréal net. But for the four time Vézina Trophy winner, the Leafs might have added four goals on breakaways in the last period.

Harry Watson was an unexpected starter, returning to action after a 10 day rest with a knee injury. He was back at his old left wing spot on the Apps line, with Sid Smith taking over left wings on the Bentley line. Don Metz was dressed but not used.

NOTES: Kenny Reardon came up with the crudest check of the night when he rammed Apps into the boards in the first period, and then smacked the Toronto team captain’s neck with an elbow smash…Coach Dick Irvin came up with a good looking young rookie in Norm Dussault. He is fast and has a hard shot…The Leafs practice at 1 p.m. today to prepare for tomorrow night’s invasion of the New York Rangers, the only team that has beaten them in their last 14 games. That was a 4-1 defeat on Toronto ice, December 13.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, January 2, 1948

1st Period
TOR PEN – 04:22 – Thomson, tripping
MTL PEN – 04:28 – Lach, interference
MTL PEN – 10:15 – Reardon, roughing
TOR PEN – 10:15 – Meeker, roughing
MTL PEN – 13:55 – Reardon, hooking
TOR PP GOAL – 14:03 – Lynn (Thomson, Bentley)
MTL PEN – 16:16 – Reardon, charging

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 08:28 – Meeker, holding
TOR GOAL – 18:27 – Bentley (Klukay, Smith)

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 08:15 – Bentley, hooking
MTL GOAL – 19:38 – Harmon (Curry, Fillion)

TOR – Broda (W)
MTL – Durnan (L)

TORGoaltenders: Turk Broda. Defence: Bill Barilko, Gus Mortson, Wally Stanowski, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: Syl Apps (C), Max Bentley, Bill Ezinicki, Ted Kennedy, Joe Klukay, Vic Lynn, Howie Meeker, Nick Metz, Sid Smith, Harry Watson.
MTLGoaltenders: Bill Durnan. Defence: Butch Bouchard, Glen Harmon, Hal Laycoe, Roger Leger, Ken Reardon. Forwards: Toe Blake (C), Tod Campeau, Joe Carveth, Floyd Curry, Norm Dussault, Bob Fillion, Elmer Lach, Jacques Locas, Billy Reay, Rip Riopelle.

TOR – 16-7-7 (.650)
MTL – 11-13-4 (.464)