Game 267 – Maple Leafs 1, Canadiens 1

Game 267
Maple Leafs 1, Canadiens 1
Wednesday, December 28, 1949
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

A breathtaking scoring play by Harry Watson with less than four minutes remaining enabled the Maple Leafs to tie the Montréal Canadiens 1-1 last night and retain a piece of fourth place in the National League puck derby.

The Leafs, superior territorially and supplying most of the effective bumping, certainly earned the draw and, but for some loose work in close, should have carded a triumph.

Watson’s tally, on a seemingly impossible angle shot at 16:06 of the third frame, touched off a tremendous ovation from the Gardens gathering of 14,252, one of the largest of the season. The roars of delight, plus the try-try-try of the locals, was in direct contrast to the Boston tea party of last Saturday, when the Leafs were humbled 8-4.

The Leaf goal, erasing a second period score by the Habitants’ Billy Reay, culminated some good plays by the big winger who, playing on a new line, also did a good job of riding herd on the great Rocket Richard most of the way.

Watson, on a line with Max Bentley and Joe Klukay, gathered in a pass from Maxie near the Leaf blueline and sifted down the boards. He whizzed by Burly Roger Leger at the Hab defence, let go a shot from the side that zipped across Bill Durnan’s skates, and the puck found a small opening between the goalie and the pipes.

The locals, although somewhat disorganized at times, could have won in the opening minutes when some terrific pressure hockey bottled up the Habs, and Durnan had to be hot on a couple of chances each by Klukay and Bentley. They might have had another goal on a great play by Gus Mortson a few minutes before Watson’s tally.

Mortson, without peer as a rushing rearguard, carried the puck through the Hab team in a crowd-rousing end to end dash, only to have Durnan save on Gus’ short backhander. Generally, however, the Leafs and the Habs had few clear, hard shots on the nets.

Unlike the usual Leaf-Habitant collisions, the tilt had only one penalty – and that an interference minor to Leaf Bill Barilko in the first period. Barilko, incidentally, was at least partially responsible for that score by Reay, a gent who tallied in the last 30 seconds of the previous game here to give the Habs a 2-2 draw.

Reay took a pass from Gerry Plamondon near centre, shifted around Barilko, and beat Turk Broda at 11:40 on a backhander slider he let go after cutting across the cage. A few minutes earlier, Rip Riopelle had taken a long forward in the clear and put the puck in the net, but it was called back for an offside. Just prior to that, Broda had made a great save on Riopelle on the first big chance the Canadiens had.

NOTES: The draw left the Leafs winless in their last nine games…The Leafs outshot the Habs 19-15, but a good Canadien defence hurried many of these shots and others that just missed the net…Howie Meeker was the best Leaf battler…The Leafs now have won two, tied two and lost four against their most bitter rivals…Just before the final bell, Jim Thomson passed forward to Vic Lynn directly in front of the net, and Durnan saved…Flem MacKell was used little, was cheered on his initial appearance in the third period when he spelled off Lynn on a line with Ray Timgren and Meeker. Rudy Migay, Bill Ezinicki and Sid Smith made up the third unit…The Habs didn’t manage a shot on Broda during Barilko’s penalty…The Leafs had trouble hitting the evasive Richard…The Battling Bull, Ken Reardon, wasn’t his usual rough self. He led only one rush, too.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, December 29, 1949

1st Period
TOR PEN – 12:23 – Barilko, interference

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 11:40 – Reay (Plamondon)

3rd Period
TOR GOAL – 16:06 – Watson (Bentley)

TOR – Broda (T, 14-15)
MTL – Durnan (T, 18-19)

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, Léo Gravelle, Elmer Lach, Calum MacKay, Kenny Mosdell, Gerry Plamondon, Billy Reay, Maurice Richard, Rip Riopelle.

TOR – 12-16-6 (.441)
MTL – 12-12-9 (.500)