Game 286 – Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 1

Game 286
Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 1
Thursday, March 1, 1951
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec

Some may call it the law of averages, but it was nothing more than good hockey that enabled the Montréal Canadiens to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 here tonight.

The win, only the Canadiens’ second in 13 games against their inter-provincial rivals, kept alive the Habs’ chances of catching the fourth and last NHL playoff berth. They trail the New York Rangers and Boston by two points.

It cost the Leafs, however, a chance to move within a game of the league leading Detroit Red Wings, who were idle tonight.

Much of the pregame interest both in Montréal and Toronto centred around the probable selection of the Leaf goalie for the night. Turk Broda was supposed to be the favourite choice of managing director Conn Smythe, but when the players skated out for the regular warmup, it was tall Al Rollins wearing the pads.

Although beaten three times, Rollins was the start of the Toronto team, turning aside some hard-flung shots from such shooters as Maurice Richard, Elmer Lach and “Boom Boom” Geoffrion, the clever Montréal rookie.

The Canadiens moved into a three goal lead, tallying twice in the first and once in the second, before the Leafs were able to prevent a shutout. And at times, the home team looked capable of adding quite a few more goals. Only the ability of Rollins to cover a lot of territory with his long legs kept it as close as it ended.

For a few minutes in the first period, the 14,438 fans appeared to be in for a rough and tough spectacle. Geoffrion and Tod Sloan were banished with majors for fist throwing in a corner that injected ill feeling into the match.

The rough stuff increased after Doug Harvey, a top Canadien, winded Joe Klukay with a butt end. It was a signal for high sticks, and within seconds, the penalty box was filled as Max Bentley, Fern Flaman and Doug Harvey joined the original scrappers.

Bentley was banished for slashing, and Flaman and Harvey for high sticking.

And before the penalty bench was cleared, there was a long delay as the penalty timekeeper, referee and players became confused over the delayed penalty rule.

One of the Leafs returned to the ice too soon, and the fans screamed their protests. Referee Knott and the penalty timekeeper discussed the problem at length, and a Leaf went back for a few seconds’ extra rest.

That delay and argument cooled tempers, and there was little rough stuff the rest of the game. Any semblance of a trip or hook was good enough for referee Knott, and he kept the players moving to the penalty box. He issued 14 penalties all told.

Paul Meger opened the scoring, blasting a hard shot over Rollins’ shoulder on a pass from Billy Reay, while Sloan and Geoffrion were serving their majors. Maurice Richard scored his 37th goal before the period ended, tapping home a pass from Bert Olmstead. The Leafs were shorthanded.

Elmer Lach made it 3-0, poking the puck between Rollins’ legs and the short side from the back of the net. Joe Klukay got that one back a couple of minutes later, completing a good three man rush. Fleming MacKell passed to Max Bentley, and Klukay pushed in the rebound. That trio formed Toronto’s best line.

Jimmy Thomson and Fern Flaman played well behind the Toronto blueline. For the Habs, Harvey was in on every goal and played one of his best defensive games. The line of ex-Leaf Bob Dawes, Geoffrion and Meger gave the Leafs lots of trouble.

It was the Leafs’ second loss in 18 games.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, March 2, 1951

1st Period
MTL PEN – 11:02 – Geoffrion, fighting major
TOR PEN – 11:02 – Sloan, fighting major
MTL GOAL – 13:19 – Meger (Reay, Harvey)
TOR PEN – 15:27 – Bentley, roughing
TOR PEN – 15:27 – Flaman, roughing
MTL PEN – 15:27 – Harvey, roughing
MTL GOAL – 18:14 – Richard (Olmstead, Harvey)

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 05:06 – Lach (Harvey)
MTL PEN – 05:17 – Harvey, kneeing
TOR PEN – 07:28 – Gardner, hooking
MTL PEN – 07:28 – Richard, slashing
TOR GOAL – 07:59 – Klukay (Bentley, MacKell)
TOR PEN – 15:50 – Gardner, interference

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 07:56 – Thomson, tripping
MTL PEN – 09:10 – Dussault, hooking
MTL PEN – 09:59 – Bouchard, spearing
TOR PEN – 10:30 – Sloan, interference
MTL PEN – 15:31 – Mosdell, interference

MTL – McNeil (W)
TOR – Rollins (L)

MTLGoaltenders: Gerry McNeil. Defence: Butch Bouchard (C), Bob Dawes, Glen Harmon, Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Dollard Saint-Laurent. Forwards: Floyd Curry, Norm Dussault, Bernie Geoffrion, Elmer Lach, Calum MacKay, Paul Meger, Kenny Mosdell, Bert Olmstead, Billy Reay, Maurice Richard.
TORGoaltenders: Al Rollins. Defence: Bill Barilko, Fern Flaman, Bill Juzda, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: Max Bentley, Cal Gardner, Bob Hassard, Ted Kennedy (C), Joe Klukay, Fleming MacKell, Howie Meeker, Tod Sloan, Sid Smith, Ray Timgren, Harry Watson.

MTL – 20-27-12 (.441)
TOR – 32-13-13 (.664)