Game 265 – Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 2

Game 265
Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 2
Wednesday, December 14, 1949
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Hockey’s invisible gremlins snuck up on old Turk Broda at the Gardens last night. They dealt the former fat boy a mean kick in the right ankle in the final minute of the game, just enough to force him to move ever so slightly out of position, and let the puck trickle into the net with the tying goal with only 35 seconds left in the game.

After having the game all but won, and looking the better team most of the way, the hockey Leafs were forced to share a 2-2 tie with the Montréal Canadiens, which left the two teams on equal terms, dividing second place in the NHL championship race.

You won’t find any mention of the gremlins in the official summary of the game. But Broda will be hard to convince it was anything other than the nasty unseen little troublemakers.

For the second home game in a row, the Toronto goalie was the victim of exactly the same freak play. Last night it cost his team a point. Saturday night it cost Turk a shutout.

With the final seconds ticking away, Billy Reay shot the puck out from the corner on a long pass intended for Léo Gravelle standing in front of the Toronto net. Broda made a belated move to intercept the puck, which caught his skate and caromed into the back of the net. Boston’s Milt Schmidt scored from exactly the same place with exactly the same shot.

It was a bitter ending for the improved Turk, who deserved a much better fate. Actually, he should have had a shutout, the Canadiens scoring their first goal when Maurice Richard stole the puck off Bill Ezinicki’s stick right in front of the Leafs net. The Montréal right winger promptly netted the puck between Broda’s legs for his 21st goal in 26 games.

Otherwise, Broda was nothing short of sensational, as he dived from side to side to block shots, and moved far out of his net to intercept attackers with amazing agility.

Each team had 18 shots on goal, the same number in each period; five in the first, six in the second and seven in the third. However, that is not a true picture, as only the wild targetry of several of the Leafs prevented Montréal’s Bill Durnan from having a lot more rubber to handle.

In the third period alone, Max Bentley, Joe Klukay and Vic Lynn led an attack which hemmed in the Canadiens with the puck flying past, but not right on the net, at least half a dozen times. Bentley alone had enough chances to win the game by a big margin, but shot as though he would have found it extremely difficult to hit the proverbial barn door.

It was a tough one for the Leafs to have to divide, and left them in the spot of being the team under pressure when hostilities are renewed in Montréal this evening. A Toronto win last night would have put the pressure on the Canadiens for tonight, now the Montréalers will have a slight edge on their home ice.

Gus Mortson played one of his best games of the season for the Leafs, acting as a second goalie time and again as he dived to block hard shots. Bill Juzda continued to show improvement. Offensively, the Bentley line, which accounted for the first Toronto goal, gave the Canadiens plenty of trouble every time they skated onto the ice. Rudy Migay showed well at centre between Harry Watson and Bill Ezinicki.

For the visitors, Reay, Richard and Léo Gravelle led the way. The last mentioned player has never looked better on Toronto ice. Defensively, it was the solid sender, Kenny Reardon, who did the best chore. He plays it rough and tough, but is an inspiration to his team.

The Leafs opened the scoring before the 13,533 fans early in the first period on one of the prettiest passing plays of the night. Vic Lynn carried in, passed to Max Bentley, whose driving shot hit a goal post and caromed onto Joe Klukay’s stick. The Duke’s fast shot was in the net before Durnan could complete his move across the goal.

The Leafs made it 2-0 in the second period with Bill Ezinicki scoring on a shot which appeared to deflect off another player’s leg. Bill Juzda and Rudy Migay drew assists.

However, Ezinicki’s effort was nullified 13 seconds later. Following the faceoff after his goal, he retrieved the puck in front of his own net, and Richard took the puck off his stick to poke it through Broda’s legs.

That was all until the final minute of the third period, when Reay and the gremlins combined to spoil a good show by Broda.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, December 15, 1949

1st Period
TOR GOAL – 02:02 – Klukay (Bentley, Lynn)
MTL PEN – 03:00 – Bouchard, holding
TOR PEN – 03:00 – Ezinicki, holding
MTL PEN – 04:50 – Reay, hooking
TOR PEN – 07:31 – Mortson, slashing

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 06:35 – Ezinicki (Migay, Juzda)
MTL GOAL – 06:48 – Richard
MTL PEN – 12:20 – Richard, holding
TOR PEN – 14:14 – Thomson, tripping

3rd Period
MTL GOAL – 19:25 – Reay (Leger, Dussault)

TOR – Broda (T, 16-18)
MTL – Durnan (T, 16-18)

TOR – 5+6+7 = 18
MTL – 5+6+7 = 18

TORGoaltenders: Turk Broda. Defence: Bill Barilko, Garth Boesch, Bill Juzda, Gus Mortson, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: Max Bentley, Bill Ezinicki, Joe Klukay, Vic Lynn, Fleming MacKell, Howie Meeker, Rudy Migay, Sid Smith, Ray Timgren, Harry Watson.
MTLGoaltenders: Bill Durnan. Defence: Butch Bouchard (C), Glen Harmon, Doug Harvey, Roger Leger, Ken Reardon. Forwards: Floyd Curry, Norm Dussault, Bob Fillion, Léo Gravelle, Elmer Lach, Calum MacKay, Kenny Mosdell, Billy Reay, Maurice Richard, Rip Riopelle.

TOR – 11-11-5 (.500)
MTL – 10-9-7 (.519)