Game 246 – Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 2

Game 246
Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 2
Wednesday, March 3, 1948
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Critics have been burying the Montréal Canadiens these many weeks past, but a rocket exploded in the face of the Toronto Maple Leafs last night, to at least delay the last hockey rites.

The Rocket, Maurice Richard, provided the sharpshooting explosiveness to pace his staggering team to a 3-2 win over the suddenly goal-scarce Leafs. His effort was apparently so dazzling that the Torontos bombarded Bill Durnan as though blinded, and without the remotest idea of the exact location of the Montréal net.

All, that is, except Toronto citizen Sid Smith, who rifled the Leafs’ two third period goals past Durnan within the space of 21 seconds. Smitty and his linemates, Syl Apps and Joe Klukay, looked hot enough to keep it up all night, once they found the range, but overenthusiastic fans came to the Habs’ rescue.

After the second Toronto goal, the fans showered the ice with paper, which delayed the game long enough to cool out the homesters and settle the visitors. When play was resumed, the Leafs rained rubber at Durnan until the final bell, but in a losing cause.

In losing only their third game in Maple Leaf Gardens this season, the Leafs were forced to move over and once again share top spot in the NHL title race with the Detroit Red Wings, who defeated the New York Rangers 4-2.

The game had a little bit of everything. There was the usual Canadien-Leaf feuding, which broke into open fisticuffs in the first period and threatened on several other occasions. There was the first penalty shot of the NHL season on which Max Bentley was unable to capitalize, and there was the final minute of wild excitement when coach Hap Day again benched Turk Broda in favour of an extra attacker.

Briefly from a Toronto standpoint, it was a case of showing too little until too late. The Leafs outshot the Canadiens 41 to 22, and 21 of those Toronto shots were fired at a busy Mr. Durnan in the last 20 minutes of play.

The big fight of the evening broke out after approximately 10 minutes of play in the opening period. Durnan went far out to the left of his net to clear a loose puck, and was boarded by Gus Mortson. Murph Chamberlain and Kenny Reardon both attacked the Toronto defenceman from the rear, and the fight was on.

Mortson shed his gloves with his usual speed, but was outnumbered. He lost his balance and went to the ice with Durnan flailing fists in his face. When the pugilists finally gave up, referee Bill Chadwick assessed Durnan, Mortson and Reardon with majors, gave Mortson an extra minor, and banished Chamberlain for two minutes.

The ineffective penalty shot was given against Durnan in accordance with NHL rule 32b, which states: “A goalkeeper shall not be sent to the penalty bench for an infraction of the rules which could call for a major penalty; instead a penalty shot will be given against him and no further penalty imposed.”

After the game, Durnan complained of pains in his chest and difficulty in breathing. However, he felt sure he won his fight. “I’m batting .500,” he chuckled. “Moe almost KO’ed me in New York this season, but I got in the punches tonight.”

All the Canadiens’ scoring was done by their very effective first line. Centre Elmer Lach set up all three Montréal goals. Rookie Norm Dussault, taking over the Punch Line’s left wing spot in place of the injured Toe Blake, dribbled the puck through Turk Broda’s legs in the first period. Richard blasted a hard backhander into the Toronto net early in the second, and deflected Lach’s shot for their final tally.

Smith’s two quick goals came a few minutes after Joe Klukay missed two well-nigh perfect chances. Klukay had Durnan at his mercy at point blank range, but hesitated too long. Then came the scoring splurge.

On the first Toronto score, Jim Thomson shot the puck into the corner, and Klukay retrieved to pass out front to Smitty. The time was 12:16. Came the faceoff with Syl Apps getting the puck into enemy territory. Again, Klukay passed out to Smith, and this time the Toronto boy scored from a sharp angle.

The Leafs blew many a chance. Based on lost opportunities in the last two games, Ted Kennedy should feel justified in suing his linemates, Vic Lynn and Howie Meeker, for non-support. The KLM line alone should have won both games by good margins.

NOTES: A low blow put Bill Ezinicki out of action for most of the third period…A strong defence and some good back checking by forwards helped Durnan considerably. The big netminder is determined to hang up his pads for good at the end of the season. “I’m sick of it all and would like to find a spot where nobody ever heard of the game,” he said in the dressing room after the game. Then in the next breath he said he had been considering retiring for some time, and was interested in a coaching job. The fans booed him loud and long after his fight with Mortson…Director Roy Tash and his Associated Screen News squad were busy continuing their film work on the history of hockey. They took pregame scenes in the Canadiens’ dressing room and also “shot” the game…Don Metz, out several weeks with a groin injury, will start skating today. The rest of the team will have a rest.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, March 4, 1948; image property of Puckstruck

1st Period
TOR PEN SHOT – 04:36 – Bentley missed
MTL PEN – 04:36 – Lach, tripping
TOR PEN – 09:06 – Barilko, interference
MTL PEN – 10:11 – Chamberlain, cross checking
MTL PEN – 10:11 – Reardon, fighting major
TOR PEN – 10:11 – Mortson, charging + fighting major
MTL PEN – 10:11 – Durnan, fighting major
TOR PEN – 13:19 – Barilko, interference
MTL PP GOAL – 14:10 – Dussault (Lach)

MTL PEN – 18:26 – Mosdell, slashing

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 03:47 – Richard (Lach, Leger)
TOR PEN – 08:17 – Meeker, slashing
MTL GOAL – 18:08 – Richard (Lach)

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 07:58 – Reay, tripping
TOR GOAL – 12:16 – Smith (Klukay, Thomson)
TOR GOAL – 12:37 – Smith (Klukay, Apps)
MTL PEN – 19:21 – Mosdell, roughing
TOR PEN – 19:21 – Kennedy, roughing

MTL – Durnan (W, 39-41)
TOR – Broda (L, 19-22)

MTLGoaltenders: Bill Durnan (C). Defence: Butch Bouchard, Glen Harmon, Doug Harvey, Roger Leger, Ken Reardon. Forwards: Joe Carveth, Murph Chamberlain, Norm Dussault, Bob Fillion, Elmer Lach, Jacques Locas, Kenny Mosdell, Billy Reay, Maurice Richard, Rip Riopelle.
TORGoaltenders: Turk Broda. Defence: Bill Barilko, Garth Boesch, 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.

MTL – 16-27-9 (.394)
TOR – 27-13-13 (.632)