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On This Date in Sports March 24, 1936: Working Overtime

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

The Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Maroons stage a marathon for the ages. Their playoff opener in the NHL semifinals at the Montreal Forum needs six overtime before being decided. The scoreless game saw Red Wings goalie Norm Smith make 89 saves while Lorne Chabot made 66 saves before Mud Bruneteau gave Detroit a 1-0 win after a total of 116 minutes and 30 seconds of overtime.

The NHL semifinals featured a best-of-five matchup between the American Division Champion Detroit Red Wings, coached by Jack Adams, who finished the regular season with a record of 24-16-8, playing the Canadian Division Champion Montreal Maroons, who coached by Tommy Gorman. The Maroons, the defending Stanley Cup Champions, posted a record of 22-16-10 during the regular season.

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Despite winning the Stanley Cup in 1935, the Montreal Maroons were clearly the second banana to the Canadiens, who marketed themselves to the large French populous in Montreal, while Maroons marketed themselves to the Anglo minority in Quebec. The series opened at the Montreal Forum, with the puck dropping at 8:30 PM with the arena half full with 9,000 fans on hand. Right away, it was clear that scoring was going to be hard to come by, as both goalies were at the top of their game, with Lorne Chabot standing tall for Montreal while Norm Smith was a brick wall for the Detroit Red Wings. Through regulation, no team could find the back of the net, as the game was scoreless after 60 minutes. From there, it was sudden death, with the game being capable of being won at any moment. However, another 60 minutes of play came and went with no team able to score. This was an age before the invention of the Zamboni, so the ice got worse as the game wore on. At the time, they could only do a dry scrape to clear away the snow that gathered on the surface of the ice.

Midnight came and went as Tuesday became Wednesday, as the Maroons and Red Wings played on, fighting off exhaustion as neither team could score. The game remained scoreless in the fourth, fifth, and sixth overtime. Early in the ninth period, the game officially became the longest game in Stanley Cup Playoff history, surpassing the previous longest game in NHL history on April 3, 1933, which saw the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Boston Bruins 1-0 after 104 minutes and 46 seconds of overtime at Maple Leaf Gardens. The Maroons controlled the puck most of the night as Red Wings Goalie Norm Smith needed to make 89 saves. Finally, with just 3:30 left in the sixth overtime, the Red Wings finally ended the game as Mud Bruneteau beat Lorne Chabot on Detroit’s 67 shot to win the game at 2:25 AM. The game remains unchallenged as the longest game in NHL history.

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The Red Wings behind Norm Smith would record a 3-0 win in Game 2 and complete the sweep with a 2-1 win at home in Game 3. The Red Wings would beat the Toronto Maple Leafs three games to one in the finals to win their first Stanley Cup.