The Maple Leafs scored five times tonight and picked up a point, earning their 100th of the season, but came up short in a shootout against the Canadiens.
LEAFS STAKE OUT TWO-GOAL LEAD EARLY IN FIRST; HABS HALVE IT BEFORE INTERMISSION
The Maple Leafs were in Montreal Saturday night for the final game of the regular-season, and Toronto got out to an ideal start at Bell Centre: Zach Hyman gave the Buds a 1-0 lead at 5:50 of the first period, giving him 21 goals on the year:
Video: TOR@MTL: Hyman scores off defender's skate
The Leafs followed up soon after that with another goal to increase their lead; at the 8:03 mark of the first, Jake Gardiner's shot from inside Montreal's blueline found its way past goaltender Charlie Lindgren as the Leafs jumped out to a two-goal advantage:
Video: TOR@MTL: Gardiner nets wrister from the point
Gardiner's goal (which included an assist for Hyman) gave Toronto breathing room - and the Leafs would need it to come into the second period still holding a lead, as Montreal got their first goal of the night from forward Ryan Poehling at 11:41. But the Buds outshot the Habs 18-14 in the first 20 minutes of play, and Toronto was able to enter the intermission having forced Montreal to chase the game.
CANADIENS SCORE THREE TIMES IN SECOND, BUT LEAFS REPLY WITH TWO GOALS TO ENTER THIRD IN A 4-4 TIE
The Canadiens came within a hair's breadth of making the playoffs this season, but their absence from it didn't mean they were going to give a half-effort in their final game - and that meant they were going to push back against the Leafs. That's what happened in the second period: Poehling scored his second of the game at 2:56, and forward Jordan Weal gave Montreal its first lead Saturday at 7:04 and with the Canadiens on the power play.
That lead didn't last long, as Leafs winger Trevor Moore broke out on a breakaway and fired the puck up and over Lindgren for his second goal of the season:
Video: TOR@MTL: Moore goes top shelf on breakaway
And, just as Montreal's 3-2 lead didn't last, so too did Toronto's tying of the game at three goals apiece: at the 10:17 mark, Habs forward Andrew Shaw put Montreal back in front with the Canadiens' third goal of the period. But, fortunately for Leafs fans, Toronto would net the final goal of the period, when forward William Nylander picked up a loose puck at centre ice and played give-and-go with centre Nazem Kadri before taking the puck behind Lindgren's net and using his speed to score a wraparound goal at 17:33:
Video: TOR@MTL: Nylander beats Lindgren with wraparound
Giving up three goals in one period is never a positive, but on the plus side, Toronto was able to stay engaged and continued to compete - and because of that resilience, they began the third period all even against the Habs.
TORONTO GETS GO-AHEAD GOAL FROM KAPANEN, BUT CANADIENS TIE IT LATE IN THIRD
The Leafs had 37 shots on Lindgren through two periods, but Montreal outshot Toronto 7-4 through the first 10 minutes of the third frame. And, as sometimes happens in the game, the team that has more shots winds up surrendering more goals: in this case, the Leafs took a 5-4 lead at 8:04 of the third on a goal from winger Kasperi Kapanen:
Video: TOR@MTL: Kapanen puts away Matthews' pinpoint feed
The Canadiens continued to pressure Toronto, however - outshooting the Leafs 14-6 through 18 minutes of the third - and Montreal got the game-tying goal from Poehling with 2:31 left in regulation time.
All in all, both teams had their share of shots - the Leafs finished the third with 45, while Montreal had 47 - but no winner had been decided at the end of the third, so the finish would depend on either 3-on-3 overtime, or only the second shootout by the Leafs this season.
POEHLING NETS GAME-WINNER IN SHOOTOUT AS LEAFS TURN ATTENTION TO PLAYOFFS
Toronto had four shots in overtime and Montreal had two, but neither side ended the game in the five-minute period, which meant a shootout would be required to decide a victor. After Auston Matthews and Jonathan Drouin were the only players to score in the opening three rounds, Montreal won in the fourth as Poehling scored the winner.
The Leafs now turn their attention to the Boston Bruins, a familiar playoff foe and Original Six rival who will have home ice advantage over Toronto. But for now, the Leafs could celebrate getting to the 100-point plateau in the standings for the second straight year - no small feat, as all honest teams, coaches and GMs will tell you - and get rested up and focused on beating the Bruins in Boston when the series gets started.
The fun will begin late this coming week, and the Buds have until then to work out kinks and tighten up their defence. The good news is Toronto will have a full lineup - meaning, no injuries keeping anyone from playing - and a number of options for head coach Mike Babcock thanks to the organization's admirable amount of depth.