Game 268 – Canadiens 1, Maple Leafs 0

Game 268
Canadiens 1, Maple Leafs 0
Wednesday, January 18, 1950
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Fabulous Bill Durnan returned to his old home town once again last night to frustrate the Maple Leafs almost single-handed, as his Canadiens won a tight fitting 1-0 hockey game.

Big Bill, well on the way to winning the Vézina Trophy as the NHL’s outstanding goalie for the sixth time in seven years in the big time, has weaved his net wizardry before a Toronto hockey audience on many a previous occasion. But he seldom, if ever, has shown to better advantage than he did last night. It was the seventh shutout of this season.

The defeat dropped the Leafs into fifth place.

Briefly, the game could be summed up as a graphic example of the defensively minded Montréal team capitalizing on a fluke goal, and some brilliant netminding. It was enough to give the visitors victory in a game that rightfully belonged to the Leafs, who battled hard to outshoot their opposition 26-14. The goal came early, so we’ll dispense with it first, as the rest of the night belongs to Durnan.

Elmer Lach displayed a working knowledge of the rudiments of baseball in scoring the only goal of the night. He came skating out of the Toronto corner, to the left of goalie Turk Broda, and lifted his stick, a la baseball bat style, at the exact moment Glen Harmon’s long, hard shot came toward him.

Lach’s stick and the puck, wide of the net, collided to effect a perfect bunt, which changed the direction of the rubber and deflected it past Broda.

That occurred at 2:11 of the opening period, and the next 57 minutes and 49 seconds of playing time produced some hard hitting, tight, playoff type hockey that had the Leafs doing everything but actually put the puck through Durnan. And that was the only way they could have scored.

The Leafs had a big margin in territorial play, making their greatest bid in the second period when they fired 14 shots at Durnan, the exact sum that the Canadiens threw at Broda in the entire game.

Durnan, born in Toronto 36 years ago next Sunday, gave the 13,936 fans a clever demonstration of the art of netminding. His body appeared to move in unison with every move of an attacker. Almost effortlessly, he glided with the play to time and again rob such goal-hungry snipers as Max Bentley, Ray Timgren, Ted Kennedy, Howie Meeker and Sid Smith at his very goal crease. That fivesome provided most of the goalmouth action, and against any other goalie in the league, would have been good for at least the equalizer.

In the last two minutes of the game, coach Hap Day had Broda trotting back and forth between his net and the Toronto bench at a fast pace, as he tried desperately to come up with the playing combination that could find a weakness in Durnan’s armour.

They came close, aided by a hooking penalty to Butch Bouchard with but 25 seconds left in the game, but again Durnan held off, and the entire Montréal goal zone was like an invisible wall, due to the magnitude of his presence.

NOTES: Montréal’s Glen Harmon was injured on the last play of the game. As the bell sounded, he fell across Bentley’s skate and came up with a deep gash on the back of his right leg that may sideline him for a few games. The cut was fairly deep and needed 10 stitches to close on the surface…Bill Ezinicki was hitting the opposition as of old, but his effectiveness was nullified by his inept stickhandling. He almost stickhandled the puck into his own net in the second period, and from a long way out at that. The fans booed when coach Day put him out as the extra forward on benching Broda in the final minutes. But it was the logical move, as Ezinicki was instructed to take out a man, something which he can do effectively…Maurice Richard made a clever play in the first period, only to lose control of the puck when he had Broda out of position and a wide open net in front of him…Referee Bill Chadwick had a bad night, repeatedly getting in the way of the puck. Linesman Sammy Babcock gave the folks a laugh when he fell in front of the Toronto goal…The Canadiens played defensive hockey most of the way, letting the Leafs come to them. Consequently, they should not be as tired as the Torontos when the two teams renew hostilities at the Forum tonight.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, January 19, 1950

1st Period
MTL GOAL – 02:11 – Lach (Harmon)

TOR PEN – 04:51 – Ezinicki, interference
TOR PEN – 15:17 – Boesch, hooking

2nd Period
MTL PEN – 18:22 – Lach, broken stick

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 05:44 – Barilko, hooking
MTL PEN – 19:37 – Bouchard, hooking

MTL – Durnan (W + SO, 26-26)
TOR – Broda (L, 13-14)

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, Gerry Plamondon, Billy Reay, Maurice Richard, Rip Riopelle.
TORGoaltenders: Turk Broda. Defence: Bill Barilko, Garth Boesch, Gus Mortson, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: Max Bentley, Bill Ezinicki, Ted Kennedy (C), Joe Klukay, Vic Lynn, John McCormack, Howie Meeker, Sid Smith, Ray Timgren.

MTL – 17-14-9 (.538)
TOR – 15-19-7 (.451)