Game 296 – Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 2

Game 296
Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 2
Wednesday, January 23, 1952
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

The “Rocket”-less Montréal Canadiens fired a youth-charged burst of goals Torontoward to defeat the Maple Leafs 4-2 before 13,329 fans at Maple Leaf Gardens last night. It was the fifth win for the Habs in the last six games between the two teams.

As a result, the Canadiens, with a game in hand, moved to within five points of the second place Leafs in the NHL championship race. The game cost the Leafs the temporary services of Danny Lewicki, who needed at least 25 stitches to close a stick-inflicted cut around his nose and upper lip.

Les Habitants left their inspirational right winger, “Rocket” Richard at home with his mysterious tummy-ache, but they didn’t miss him even the teensiest bit as a couple or three kids picked up the slack and gave the team’s old men new inspiration.

The accurate goal firing of Dickie Moore, the blocking and rushing of Dollard Saint-Laurent and the pestiferous checking of Paul Meger, three leaders in coach Dick Irvin’s back-to-youth drive, provided the incentive for some youthful hockey from oldsters Billy Reay and Elmer Lach.

There wasn’t much shooting difference between the two teams, the Canadiens firing 32 shots to the Leafs’ 30, but the visitors had the edge in goal. Little Gerry McNeil performed like a man on a trampoline as he dived, jumped and fell to block the best efforts of such established Toronto marksmen as Max Bentley, “Teeder” Kennedy, Sid Smith, Harry Watson and Lewicki. Bentley managed to get an early blister past the little stopper and Rudy Migay completed the Toronto scoring, but the rest of the evening Mr. McNeil put forward a solid front.

By sharp contrast, Al Rollins appeared to be placing too much faith in the backchecking ability of his teammates on at least two goals. He made weak moves on breakaway goals by Lach and Moore (Dick’s secnd).

Moore set the Montréal scoring pace with two goals, as the Habs hauled down an early Toronto lead and were never headed after times in the second with the Leafs shorthanded. Moore made it 1-1 with Gus Mortson sitting out a charging offence, while Lach and Reay piled up the tally with Fern Flaman sweating out a major for blood-letting high sticking.

The Leafs came back in the third as play opened with Rudy Migay, one of the better Toronto workers, scoring his second NHL goal with a backhand flip on a passout after Howie Meeker and Harry Watson bulled the puck into Montréal territory.

For a few minutes it looked as though the Leafs might tie it, but the pressure backfired when Reay broke up a Toronto attack and set Moore in the clear. Jimmy Thomson rushed back and almost caught the kid, so much so that he appeared to have Rollins convinced. T’weren’t so, however, and a fairly easy shot skidded into the webbing.

Bentley, with 17 goals, became the Leafs’ top scorer on a play he started and finished with middleman help from Lewicki. Magic started a speedy rush toward the Montréal zone, flipped a hard pass to Danny, who shoved the puck back as they hit the Habs defence. A quick flick of Bentley’s wrists and the score was 1-0 for Toronto – but not for long.

Moore tied the score with a high shot on a passout from Lach. Then Lach broke through the Toronto defence with Watson at his heels to make it 2-1. Two minutes later, Moore spotted Reay standing alone in front of Rollins, and having received the puck from Mortson, quickly gave it to Bill – and he gave it to Rollins!

NOTES: There was one brief outburst of fisticuffs in the second period. Bud MacPherson and Flaman switched from high sticking to high punching. MacPherson drew a minor and Flaman a major, because Bud’s nose was bleeding from the stick session. The only other damage was suffered by linesman Bill Morrison, who stopped a MacPherson roundhouse as he stepped between the scrappers to pull Flaman away. Late in the game Flaman drew a 10 minute misconduct and $25 fine for saying something nasty to referee Bill Chadwick when the latter stood and watched Reay stick-trip the Toronto defenceman, with no penalty for Reay…Montréal actually scored a fifth goal, but Chadwick disallowed it, claiming Floyd Curry kicked the puck into the net. Chadwick must have been surprised by the roar of disapproval from the Toronto fans who behaved as though their own team had been robbed…Montréal camp followers, or newspaper and radio men, made Bill Juzda their nolay hate target for the evening…Lewicki was injured when he was stick-checked by lend-lease player Cliff Malone…The Leafs have certainly been kind to the Canadiens. They’ve given up 11 out of 12 possible points. If the Canadiens weren’t fortunate enough to have the Leafs on their playing schedule, they (Canadiens) would be a lowly fifth instead of closing in on second place.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, January 24, 1952

1st Period
TOR PEN – 01:48 – Mortson, interference
TOR GOAL – 07:29 – Bentley (Lewicki, Timgren)
MTL PEN – 13:31 – Gamble, tripping
TOR PEN – 15:47 – Flaman, boarding

2nd Period
MTL PEN – 02:23 – Olmstead, holding
TOR PEN – 08:18 – Mortson, charging
MTL PP GOAL – 09:43 – Moore (Lach)
MTL PEN – 11:59 – MacPherson, high sticking
TOR PEN – 11:59 – Flaman, high sticking major
MTL PP GOAL – 14:30 – Lach (Saint-Laurent)
MTL PP GOAL – 16:37 – Reay (Meger, Moore)

3rd Period
TOR GOAL – 06:15 – Migay (Watson, Meeker)
MTL GOAL – 09:47 – Moore (Reay)
TOR PEN – 17:55 – Flaman, misconduct
MTL PEN – 18:43 – Meger, high sticking

MTL – McNeil (W, 28-30)
TOR – Rollins (L, 28-32)

MTL – 11+13+8 = 32
TOR – 6+13+11 = 30

MTLGoaltenders: Gerry McNeil. Defence: Butch Bouchard (C), Doug Harvey, Tom Johnson, Bud MacPherson, Dollard Saint-Laurent. Forwards: Floyd Curry, Dick Gamble, Elmer Lach, Cliff Malone, John McCormack, Paul Meger, Dickie Moore, Bert Olmstead, Billy Reay.
TORGoaltenders: Al Rollins. Defence: Fern Flaman, Bill Juzda, Gus Mortson, Jimmy Thomson. Forwards: Max Bentley, Cal Gardner, Ted Kennedy (C), Joe Klukay, Danny Lewicki, Howie Meeker, Rudy Migay, Tod Sloan, Sid Smith, Ray Timgren, Harry Watson.

MTL – 20-18-6 (.523)
TOR – 21-15-9 (.567)