Game 249 – Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 2

Game 249
Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 2
Wednesday, October 27, 1948
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

A couple of spirited kids combined with a brace of bruising blue line belters to provide the spark which fired the Toronto Maple Leafs to a close 3-2 victory over the Montréal Canadiens last night.

It was the Canadiens’ first defeat in five games. With defencemen Bill Barilko and Garth Boesch cutting down the attackers with some solid body bouncing, rookies Les Costello and Fleming MacKell gave their more experienced teammates a lead in how to open up a close checking hockey game.

You won’t find the names of the two freshmen forwards in this morning’s scoring summary, but they were very much in evidence inside the Montréal defence zone, showing particular disdain for such tried rearguards as Kenny Reardon and Butch Bouchard.

Thus was the pattern of Toronto victory woven in a clever, hard fought game more typical of spring playoffs than the second week of a new season. The Leafs, an entirely different aggregation from the same sweatered crew which blew to a 5-0 shutout against the same Canadiens in Montréal a week ago today, twice came from behind to tie the score. And each of the three forward lines figured in the scoring.

“What an October game,” managing director Conn Smythe smilingly remarked as he entered the Leafs dressing room after the game. “Yes sir, as refreshing as October nut brown ale! Those kids,” he added, “they opened up the game when too much of the play was in our end.”

Both teams came up with sound hockey, and as usual, when these two bitter interprovincial rivals in the NHL championship race get together on the same sheet of ice, the checking was hard, very hard.

The Canadiens actually had a slight edge in play, outshooting the Leafs 18-17, but the Hap Day coached lads found the scoring range the important extra time in five goals. Even the penalties were fairly even, referee Bill Chadwick trying his darndest to saw off in his officiating.

Chadwick’s equalizing record was intact until late in the third period. Up until that time, he had banished five players from each side for committing various forms of charging. Then he assessed Bill Ezinicki his third minor of the evening because the Leafs had seven players on the ice. The official missed his big chance minutes later to protect his record, when the Canadiens had no less than eight men over the boards.

The crowd let up a terrific roar, and the two extra players scurried like rabbits back to their bench, but Chadwick was one of the very few among the 13,897 people in the Gardens who missed the sidelight action.

While the Leafs split the scoring honours, Montréal goals were secured by the Punch Line, Maurice Richard and George Robertson spoiling Turk Broda’s evening.

There was no scoring in the first period, with the Canadiens having an edge in play. Richard opened the scoring at 2:29 of the second period in probably the most spectacular play of the evening.

He took a pass from Robertson in Montréal territory and weaved a pattern through the entire Toronto team to Broda’s crease. His shot was low and accurate.

The NHL all star right winger received a great hand from the crowd for his effort. Such is fame, however, that the crowd cheered much louder a few minutes later when Richard was firmly planted on the seat of his trousers by the hard hitting Garth Boesch.

Harry Watson tied the score at 12:44 of the same period with another piece of fancy stick and skate work. Joe Klukay shot the puck into a corner, and Watson outfought Bouchard for it, skated around the Montréal captain, pivoted and fired past Bill Durnan at close range.

Montréal moved ahead on the first play of the final period. Barilko was sitting out a penalty he received late in the second period when the Punch Line won the faceoff tussle and headed into Toronto territory.

The puck travelled from Elmer Lach to Richard to Robertson. The last mentioned fired the rubber disc home while skating backwards.

Little Howie Meeker was on the spot to bang home Ted Kennedy’s rebound and tie the score again about two minutes later. Kennedy, a puck hound all evening, carried the play to the Montréal goal. His shot hit Durnan’s pads and bounded to the front. Meeker practically shoved the puck into the net.

Less than three minutes later, Max Bentley put the Leafs out in front for the rest of the evening. He took a rolling pass from Gus Mortson and somehow managed to control it long enough to sift a backhand shot into the net.

Mortson played good two way hockey, also picking up an assist on Meeker’s goal.

For the first time this season, the Leafs were at full strength. Cal Gardner was a surprise starter, giving coach Day a limit squad of 17 players. Gardner appeared briefly in the second period, working at centre between Watson and Bill Ezinicki. He was on the ice long enough to pick up his first penalty of the year. Bob Dawes and Frank Mathers were used sparingly.

Coach Irvin used 11 forwards, with Rip Riopelle and Eddie Dorohoy spelling off Bob Fillion on the Canadiens’ third line with Kenny Mosdell and Murph Chamberlain. The speedy little Norm Dussault was kept under close check by the Leafs all night.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, October 28, 1948

1st Period
TOR PEN – Ezinicki (2)
MTL PENS – Harvey, Lach

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 02:29 – Richard (Robertson)
TOR GOAL – 12:44 – Watson (Klukay)
TOR PENS – Gardner, Barilko
MTL PENS – Mosdell, Riopelle

3rd Period
MTL PP GOAL – 00:25 – Robertson (Richard, Lach)

TOR GOAL – 02:21 – Meeker (Kennedy, Mortson)
TOR GOAL – 05:23 – Bentley (Mortson)
TOR PENS – Meeker
MTL PEN – Dorohoy

TOR – Broda (W, 16-18)
MTL – Durnan (L, 14-17)

TORGoaltenders: Turk Broda. Defence: Bill Barilko, Garth Boesch, Bob Dawes, Frank Mathers, Gus Mortson, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: Max Bentley, Les Costello, Bill Ezinicki, Cal Gardner, Ted Kennedy (C), Joe Klukay, Vic Lynn, Fleming MacKell, Howie Meeker, Harry Watson.
MTLGoaltenders: Bill Durnan. Defence: Butch Bouchard (C), Glen Harmon, Doug Harvey, Ken Reardon. Forwards: Joe Carveth, Murph Chamberlain, Eddie Dorohoy, Norm Dussault, Bob Fillion, Elmer Lach, Kenny Mosdell, Billy Reay, Maurice Richard, Rip Riopelle, George Robertson.

TOR – 2-3-0 (.400)
MTL – 2-1-2 (.600)