Game 290 – Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 2

Game 290
Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 2
Saturday, November 24, 1951
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Those colourful Westerners aren’t toting the Grey Cup on the long ride home, but they’re fairly certain to be carrying some good words for big time hockey.

There were scores of the big-hatted ones among the season’s largest crowd – 14,580 – at Maple Leaf Gardens Saturday night, and most stared wide-eyed as the Leafs bounced both a hometown jinx and the Montréal Canadiens on a 4-2 decision.

It was the best all around game of the NHL season here, and its sustained action always held the threat of a flare-up between the bitter rivals. A dull moment had no chance amid the brilliance, speed and bodily contact. For a time in the second period, when referee George Gravel overlooked some fouls that included high sticking, it appeared as if the game might get out of hand.

Tod Sloan, Ted Kennedy, Cal Gardner and Bob Solinger were the goal-getters who provided the Leafs with their first Saturday win at home after four losses and two ties. The mighty “Rocket” Richard and veteran Elmer Lach counted for the Canadiens, who now have lost nine straight league games to the Leafs on Toronto ice. Their last win, not counting that one playoff game last spring, was back in late March of ’50, and it dropped the Leafs into third place and into a losing playoff semifinal with Detroit.

That there was plenty of hometown support present for that Regina gent, coach Dick Irvin, was evidenced after only 80 seconds of play, when “The Rocket” put the Habitants ahead 1-0. It was a tremendous play, with Richard taking a pass from Lach in full stride and cutting in on goal to score with a sizzling 15-footer.

Goalie Gerry McNeil, who did everything but a double cartwheel in kicking out Leaf shots, had his view partially blocked when the Leaf power play clicked to tie the score seven minutes later. Tom Johnson was off for hooking when Max Bentley, who looked more like the dipsy-doodler of old, let go a long, lazy shot. Sloan deflected it past McNeil.

Defenceman Fern Flaman, a standout both ways, left two Canadiens, including Richard, sprawling on the ice in the Leaf end before wheeling down into Hab territory to set up the 2-1 goal after seven minutes of the middle period. The rebound of his shot landed at Gardner’s toes near the crease and he banged it in.

Sloan was sitting out the balance of a second period trip minor when Lach tied it at 2-2 just 27 seconds after the third period opened. With Al Rollins sprawled out after a Richard drive and the puck almost on the red line, Lach pushed it in.

It was the Leafs’ turn seven minutes later, with Kennedy battling for a passout to Sloan. The shot of the so-called “Slinker” hit the post and Kennedy slapped in the rebound. The backbreaker was a long shot by Solinger, with less than four minutes to go. It took a bad hop in front of the cage and McNeil was on the verge of tears in the dressing room later.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, November 25, 1951

1st Period
MTL GOAL – 01:20 – Richard (Lach, MacPherson)
MTL PEN – 02:26 – Lowe, holding
TOR PEN – 02:36 – Sloan, interference
TOR PEN – 05:00 – Bolton, tripping
MTL PEN – 08:27 – Johnson, hooking
TOR PP GOAL – 09:45 – Sloan (Bentley, Thomson)
MTL PEN – 11:21 – Lach, high sticking
MTL PEN – 14:11 – Harvey, high sticking
TOR PEN – 14:11 – Smith, high sticking

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 07:18 – Gardner (Flaman)
TOR PEN – 19:32 – Sloan, tripping

3rd Period
MTL PP GOAL – 00:27 – Lach (Richard, Geoffrion)
TOR GOAL – 07:59 – Kennedy (Sloan, Thomson)
TOR GOAL – 16:08 – Solinger (Lewicki)
TOR PEN – 17:46 – Flaman, tripping

TOR – Rollins (W, 20-22)
MTL – McNeil (L, 28-32)

TOR – 10+10+12 = 32
MTL – 7+6+9 = 22

TORGoaltenders: Al Rollins. Defence: Hugh Bolton, Fern Flaman, Bill Juzda, Gus Mortson, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: Max Bentley, Cal Gardner, Ted Kennedy (C), Joe Klukay, Danny Lewicki, Howie Meeker, Tod Sloan, Sid Smith, Bob Solinger, Harry Watson.
MTLGoaltenders: Gerry McNeil. Defence: Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Ross Lowe, Bud MacPherson. Forwards: Floyd Curry, Dick Gamble, Bernie Geoffrion, Elmer Lach, Paul Masnick, John McCormack, Paul Meger, Kenny Mosdell, Bert Olmstead, Billy Reay, Maurice Richard.

TOR – 8-5-6 (.579)
MTL – 7-9-3 (.447)