Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais scored on the first two shots in the shootout and the Canadiens finished their season with a 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The win moved the Canadiens into first place in the Atlantic Division and guaranteed a first round playoff meeting with the Ottawa Senators. The win also guaranteed the Habs of second place in the overall league standings three points behind the Rangers.
Canadiens came from behind three times to gain the tie after regulation time. David Desharnais, Tomas Plekanec and Jacob de la Rose scored the Montreal goals. Phil Kessel, Casey Bailey and Tyler Bozak for Toronto. The Canadiens outshot the Leafs 33-22. Carey Price finishes the season with a team record 44 wins. The Hockey Night in Canada three stars were Casey Bailey, Tyler Bozak and Alex Galchenyuk. I’ll leave it up to you to figure out how the arrived at that.
Adding It Up –
Two Sides of the Coin – The Canadiens forwards had a very good night. The defense, not so much. It wasn’t a matter of a fierce forecheck on the part of Toronto. The defense, looking ahead to the playoffs simply took a night off. All three Toronto goals were the result of soft plays by Canadiens defensemen that led to turnovers. At the other end, the Canadiens forecheck was excellent which led to two of three goals.
Playoff Ready – Lars Eller has been good the last three weeks. In this game he was outstanding. There have been grumblings about his lack of production this season but he scored 13 points in 17 games during last year’s playoffs which was exactly half his total for his 77 game season. Eller has a chance of becoming one of those player who blossoms under playoff pressure.
Number One – Since Michel Therrien put them together in early March the line of Plekanec/Gallagher/Galchenyuk has been the Canadiens best. More of the same in the this game. The trio produced 13 of the Canadiens 33 shots on goal. Plekanec had six. Gallagher took a total of ten shots, five of them on goal. Galchenyuk put two on goal but spent most of the night setting up his linemates.
In the End – The Canadiens wind up with 110 points, their best season in 26 years and the second best point total in league. They swept season series against seven of their fiftreen Eastern Conference opponents winding up with a 37-11-6 record against them. Along with earning home ice advantage in the first two rounds of the playoffs, if the Habs were to reach the Stanley Cup final, because they were second overall in the league behind the Rangers, they would also have home ice advantage.
Moving Ahead – No matter what happens in the playoffs, these things can’t be taken away. The Canadiens goaltending and defense will win the Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals in the league. Carey Price set the club record for wins with 44. Among those having career seasons in points production were Max Pacioretty, Brendan Gallagher, Alex Galchenyuk, P.K. Subban, Dale Weise and obviously Price. Pacioretty finishes the year tied with Tampa’s Nikita Kucherov at plus-38.
To the Playoffs – The Canadiens will face the Ottawa Senators in the first round. The Canadiens played they four times during the regular season. Their record was 1-3-0 and the Habs were outscored 14-9. Dustin Tokarski was in goal for two of the losses giving up 6 goals on 72 shots. Price split his two starts, losing the final meeting between the teams 5-2 March 12th (After Max Pacioretty had given them a 2-0 lead) . Fresh in the minds of Montreal fans is the 2013 playoff meeting between the clubs which included the circus created by then-Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean following the Game One hit by Eric Gryba that eliminated Lars Eller from the playoffs. The Canadiens never recovered from it and went down in 5 games. The Senators are this year’s ‘Cinderella’ team behind goaltender Andrew Hammond, which doesn’t make things any easier for the Canadiens.