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On This Date in Sports April 16, 1949: Maple Leafs X 3

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

The Toronto Maple Leafs become the first team to win the Stanley Cup three straight seasons, as they complete a four-game sweep of the Detroit Red Wings with a 3-1 at Maple Leaf Gardens. It is also the eighth over and fifth during the 1940s for Toronto, ranking them first all time. The Maple Leafs had a mediocre regular season, finishing fourth with a record of 22-25-13.

The 1940s was the decade of the Toronto Maple Leafs, as they won the Stanley Cup five times, including three straight, establishing a new record. During this period, the Stanley Cup transformed from the old stovepipe design to the modern design. The decade started with disappointment in Toronto as they lost the 1940 Stanley Cup Finals to the New York Rangers in six games, marking the third straight year they lost the championship series. In 1942, they made history by rallying from down 3-0 to beat the Detroit Red Wings in seven games. Three years later, the Red Wings nearly returned the favor winning three straight to force a seventh game, which Toronto won 2-1.

The true battle for hockey superiority was between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens in those days. In 1946, the Canadiens became the first team to win the Cup six times in the modern era. In a hard-fought battle, Toronto answered with their sixth Stanley Cup title, beating the Canadiens in six games. The Maple Leafs swept the Red Wings to make it seven titles a year later.

Seeking a third straight championship, the Toronto Maple Leafs coached Hap Day coasted through most of the season, finishing in fourth place with a record of 22-25-13. The Maple Leafs would face off with the Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Final for the second straight season. Toronto had defeated the second-place Boston Bruins in five games, while the regular season leading Red Wings needed six games to take down the Canadiens.

In Game 1, at the Olympia in Detroit, the Red Wings, coached by Tommy Ivan, scored first on a power-play goal by George Gee. Max Bentley answered for Toronto, while Jimmy Thompson scored on a power play in the second to give the Maple Leafs a 2-1 lead. Detroit would tie the game on a third-period score from Bill Quackenbush. In overtime, Toronto would emerge with a 3-2 win when Jack Klukay beat Harry Lumley at 17:13 of sudden death. In Game 2, the Maple Leafs built a 3-0 lead as Sid Smith netted three power-play goals. Pete Horeck scored in the third period for the Red Wings, but it was not enough as Turk Broda did the rest in a 3-1 win for Toronto.

With Toronto leading 2-0, the series shifted to Maple Leaf Gardens for Game 3. Jack Stewart gave Detroit a 1-0 lead in the first period, but the Leafs, with goals from Bob Ezinicki, Ted Kennedy, and Gus Mortson in the second period, stormed back to win the game 3-1. Looking for the sweep, the Leafs watched the Red Wings again draw first blood on a goal by Ted Lindsay in the first period. In the second period, Toronto tied the game on a power-play goal by Ray Timgren. Late in the period, they would take the lead on a goal by Cal Gardner. Bentley put the game away in the third period as the Maple Leafs scored their third straight 3-1 win to complete the sweep and become the first team to win the Stanley Cup three consecutive years.