WASHINGTON - The Habs will have to battle for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
With their 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on Thursday night and the Carolina Hurricanes picking up a big win to clinch a postseason berth, only one spot remains for the big dance.
The battle for that spot will be fought between Montreal and the Columbus Blue Jackets.
At Capital One Arena, the difference was a mere goal, but one that hurt the Canadiens.
"It was a tight game. Unfortunately, it hurts. It's a game we should've won. We have to roll up our sleeves and hope we get some help the next few days to give us a chance for Saturday," explained head coach Claude Julien. "We worked hard up until now. Tonight, we were missing a little something. They were more opportunistic than us and that made the difference."
In fact, the Habs will need help from the New York Rangers on Friday as they will welcome the Blue Jackets to their barn.
Canadiens players will surely be watching that game closely tomorrow night, but their focus still remains on their last game of the regular season which takes place on Saturday night at the Bell Centre against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"You can look back at it and slice it however you want, but we came up a little short tonight. We didn't get the win. That's what we wanted," described Max Domi. "It's unfortunate, but we can control what we can control and that's just getting ready for the last game. If we win that one, you never know."
The Habs were once again able to count on a top-notch performance from their goaltender on this night. Carey Price made some huge saves on multiple occasions to keep his team in the game.
Price's performance once again did not go unnoticed by his teammates.
"He's been great all year. He's been our best player for the whole year," added Domi. "He's a special person, a special player, and it was unfortunate we didn't get more than one [goal] for him tonight."
Video: MTL@WSH: Price stops Connolly's bid with pad
Disappointment reigned supreme in the room following the game, but the players did not have much in the way of regrets.
"I don't think any guy in here didn't want to win or didn't give everything they had," outlined captain Shea Weber, whose 99th career power play tally thrust him into a tie for 20th all-time in goals among defensemen. "Maybe it wasn't our best overall effort the last little bit, but I don't think there's anyone in here who didn't give everything for their team."
Video: MTL@WSH: Weber buries shot from circle for PPG
After all, the Habs should feel a sense of pride over what they've accomplished the past few weeks.
"It's a great show of character," shared Price, who made 29 saves against the Caps. "Along this last stretch here, I think we've really shown our true colors."
What happens next for the Canadiens will depend on events set to take place on Friday night at Madison Square Garden. A Blue Jackets loss to the Rangers will give the Habs one more chance to punch their ticket for the Second Season.
It's not common for Original Six rivals to cheer for one another, but we know who the Canadiens will be rooting for on Friday night in New York.