Monday, March 24, 2014

March 24, 1936: The Longest Battle In NHL History

     On March 24, 1936, the longest game in NHL history was played in Montreal. The game was a first round matchup between the Detroit Red Wings and the defending Stanley Cup Champion Montreal Maroons. Six hours after the game began a 21-year-old rookie by the name of Mud Bruneteau got one past the Montreal goalie Lorne Chabot to win the game. It was just 3 minutes and 30 seconds short of being the equivalent of three hockey games. The goalies were the true story of the night. Chabot turned away 67 shots, while Detroit's goalie Norm Smith turned away 90. The defensive battle was the first step for the Detroit squad who were destined to bring Lord Stanley's Cup to the Motor City for the first time.

     The game started out with fast pace and heavy checking. Both teams had their moments, but both goalies were playing the game of their lives and their defenseman in front of them were making plays when they needed to. By the time the end of regulation rolled around each team had battle valiantly they just could not break through with a goal to decide the contest. As Chabot and Smith kept turning away shot after shot both teams began to run out of gas. The fast pace that marked the first three periods had slowed to a crawl as each club desperately sought a game winning goal as they rolled through not one but six overtime periods. Bruneteau's veteran teammate Hec Kilrea dished off a beautiful pass to him that Chabot had no chance to stop. 116 minutes and 30 seconds after the game began it was put in the record books. Nearly 80 years later it remains on top of the list of longest games ever played in NHL history.

     Unfortunately for the crowd of nearly 10,000 the goal was scored by a man wearing the wrong sweater. The Red Wings would put to bed any thoughts of a repeat by blanking them in two more games and punched their own ticket to the Finals where they met the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Wings toppled the Leafs 3 game to 1 in the best of five series and brought were now Stanley Cup Champions. Hockey's most coveted prize has returned to the city 10 more times since as the franchise has established itself as one of the best in all of hockey.

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