Game 259 – Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 1

Game 259
Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 1
Thursday, March 17, 1949
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

Gloom which hung in clouds over the Forum tonight, even as the Canadiens were whipping their intracity NHL enemies the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1, was dispelled at game’s end, when examination proved Elmer Lach had not suffered a fractured jaw.

Lach, who sustained a similar fracture earlier this season, merely had a front tooth loosened, said a much relieved Frank Selke, the Canadiens’ general manager.

Lach showed up on the ice immediately after the game, dressed in street clothes, to receive his share of the trophies and prizes given by Montréal business firms, extinguishing widespread rumour he had been seriously hurt. The ace centre, a slick Saskatchewan emigrant to the NHL, was hurt in the first period when he collided with Leaf Ted Kennedy. He didn’t return to action and was taken to hospital, where first report was he might have a bone separation in his jaw.

His appearance on the ice after the game, and Selke’s declaration he had merely suffered a loosened tooth, was greeted with great joy by his teammates and the rabid local hockey populace. The loss of Lach at a time like this would seriously have handicapped Dick Irvin’s red-shirts in their drive for the Stanley Cup.

Elmer had his jaw fractured December 11 in a game against the Chicago Black Hawks, and he had been back in action three weeks. Selke said that Lach would be back for the playoffs, and possibly would see action here Saturday night against Chicago. “It all depends on how Lach feels,” said Selke.

Lach had just nicely figured in the opening goal by Rip Riopelle when the accident occurred.

Captain Ted Kennedy was the lone Toronto marksman, tying the count at 1-1 seconds after the middle session opened with Rocket Richard in the penalty box.

Billy Reay put the Habs ahead to stay seven minutes later, with Garth Boesch serving a cheap penalty. Reardon made certain on one of his typical bull-like rushes early in the third period. Reardon, playing his first game against Toronto since Bill Barilko put him put with a shoulder fracture at the start of last month, made Barilko look bad. Reardon actually ran around him, bulled his way in on Turk Broda, and trickled the puck in as he went by the net.

It wasn’t a bad game, despite referee Bill Chadwick’s urge to call everything. He issued nine minors to the Habs and seven for the Leafs, a few of them pretty petty. Bill Ezinicki, the Leaf right winger back in action for the first time since February 19, took three himself, all deserved. At times he seemed so glad to get back into action that he wanted to take on the entire Hab team.

Goalie Bill Durnan, the wizard of the nets, was sensational in the late stages of the last period when he robbed Max Bentley and Joe Klukay of what appeared certain goals. He had only 17 stops to 24 by Broda.

It was the sixth win against four losses and two ties for the Habs over the Leafs this season. It could be a playoff preview, since the Canadiens and Boston Bruins are fighting for second place, and the right to meet the Leafs in the first round of the Stanley Cup semifinals.

A cheap penalty to Boesch was followed by a tally that gave the Habs a 2-1 margin.

Boesch stepped into Léo Gravelle well out from the boards, caught him fairly and sent him flying along the ice into the sideboards. Chadwick ruled it a penalty for boarding.

With Garth off, Doug Harvey split the Leaf rearguard of Gus Mortson and Jim Thomson, passed to Reay, who went right in on unprotected Broda to score at 7:03.

The Leafs had made it 1-1 with Richard in penitence for a dubious interference penalty after he collided with his arch enemy, Ezinicki.

The Leaf tally came just 37 seconds after the opening of the middle frame. Thomson started the power play, with rookie Ray Timgren getting the puck in close and letting go a short shot that hit the post and rebounded out to Kennedy on Durnan’s doorstep. A quick slice and it was in.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, March 18, 1949

1st Period
TOR PEN – 03:26 – Metz, interference
TOR PEN – 04:26 – Mortson, roughing
MTL PEN – 06:12 – Fillion, slashing
MTL GOAL – 08:40 – Riopelle (Lach, Leger)
TOR PEN – 10:13 – Ezinicki, holding
MTL PEN – 10:21 – Reay, holding
MTL PEN – 19:26 – Richard, interference

2nd Period
TOR PP GOAL – 00:37 – Kennedy (Timgren, Thomson)
MTL PEN – 01:14 – Harvey, holding
TOR PEN – 05:19 – Boesch, boarding
MTL PP GOAL – 07:03 – Reay (Harvey)
MTL PEN – 14:32 – Harvey, high sticking

3rd Period
MTL GOAL – 04:45 – Reardon

MTL PEN – 05:25 – Richard, roughing
TOR PEN – 08:29 – Ezinicki, interference
MTL PEN – 08:32 – Reay, holding
TOR PEN – 10:43 – Ezinicki, tripping
MTL PEN – 13:00 – Laycoe, high sticking
MTL PEN – 13:57 – Bouchard, charging
TOR PEN – 17:29 – Lynn, interference

MTL – Durnan (W, 17-18)
TOR – Broda (L, 24-27)

MTLGoaltenders: Bill Durnan. Defence: Butch Bouchard (C), Glen Harmon, Doug Harvey, Hal Laycoe, Roger Leger, Ken Reardon. Forwards: Joe Carveth, Norm Dussault, Bob Fillion, Léo Gravelle, Elmer Lach, Kenny Mosdell, Gerry Plamondon, Billy Reay, Maurice Richard, Rip Riopelle.
TORGoaltenders: Turk Broda. Defence: Bill Barilko, Garth Boesch, Bill Juzda, Gus Mortson, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: Max Bentley, Bill Ezinicki, Cal Gardner, Ted Kennedy (C), Joe Klukay, Vic Lynn, Don Metz, Tod Sloan, Ray Timgren, Harry Watson.

MTL – 27-22-9 (.543)
TOR – 22-23-13 (.491)