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Canadiens top Leafs, await playoff pairings

The SportsXchange

TORONTO -- It was a good way for the Montreal Canadiens to end their season, but not so good for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"It's done, it's over," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said after his team's isappointing effort in the 4-1 loss to the Canadiens on Saturday night.

The Canadiens had a different perspective.

"In terms of the playoffs, I have a lot of confidence," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said, "because we're playing how I want us to play."

The teams could meet in the first round of the playoffs depending on Sunday's game between the Boston Bruins and the Ottawa Senators. If the Bruins lose, they would be Toronto's opponent in the first round.

The Maple Leafs (26-17-5) put in a poor effort before their season-best crowd of 19,730 at Air Canada Centre.

Andrei Markov and Brendan Gallagher scored five minutes apart during the second period to put the Canadiens (29-14-5) ahead to stay.

Lars Eller and Tomas Plekanec also scored for Montreal. Eller added two assists.

"It can't hurt feeling good about yourselves going into the playoffs," Eller said. "Once it starts, the past doesn't matter, but we good about ourselves right now and got back to our game today. If we play like this we'll be fine.

"We certainly don't fear anybody. Neither do we have a preference to who we meet. It's all about us. It's out of our hands now. We did what we could and we'll see what happens"

Phil Kessel scored Toronto's goal.

The Maple Leafs had only one shot on goal in the second period. Peter Budaj stopped all but one of Toronto's 17 shots in the game. He was given the start with No. 1 goaltender Carey Price given a rest.

The Leafs had only five shots on seven power-play opportunities in an uninspired effort that made the Canadiens' task easy.

Toronto starting goalie James Reimer was lifted for Ben Scrivens after Plekanec scored his 14th goal of the season at 2:25 of the third period. Reimer allowed four goals on 23 shots. Ben Scrivens took over from him and stopped all five shots he faced.

"I'm scratching my head," Carlyle said. "I don't know. I really was mystified tonight. We had a really solid first period going for ourselves. We were playing the type of hockey that we feel or believe we have to play to have success.

"Then momentum seemed to turn and we lacked the compete to win some battles along the wall. We started turning the puck over. And it just seemed it deteriorated from there. I think we had three powers plays in the second period and had one shot on net."

Reimer said, "It's nothing that really changes anything. We know how we can play and we stick to our game plan. Even if we had won 10-0, when the game is over it doesn't really mean anything, it's a new season and we're confident in what we can do and that hasn't changed even though we didn't play our best for two periods."

Montreal ends the season with two wins in a row, having won at Winnipeg over the Jets 4-2 on Thursday.

"We played a very good game," Therrien said. "These last two games -- the one in Winnipeg and tonight's had a playoff atmosphere. We reacted well in Winnipeg and I felt my team was headed in a good direction. Tonight was a very solid game.

"We had a good week of preparation. We had good practices starting from last Sunday. It's important for us to return and work on the things where we need improvement. What is important is how we react to those things and those practices with the results we expect."

Toronto forward Frazer McLaren was given a game misconduct on top of a 10-minute misconduct and charging and roughing minors at 3:05 of the third period.

Markov's 10th goal of the season put the Habs into a 2-1 lead at 4:19 of the second period. Eller won the faceoff in the Leafs zone and the puck went to Markov near the left boards. His 65-foot wrist shot beat Reimer.

The Habs made it 3-1 on Gallagher's 15th goal of the season at 9:18 of the second period on a 30-foot snap shot after he won a race for the puck in the Leafs' end.

Kessel scored his 20th goal of the season on a 44-foot wrist shot during the power play at 15:36 of the first period after Markov was penalized for roughing Leo Komarov at 14:57.

But the Canadiens answered promptly with Eller's eighth goal of the season on a 10-foot backhand set up by Gallagher at 18:01 with each team at full strength.

NOTES: Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak did not play after not taking part in the team skate on Saturday. He suffered an apparent shoulder injury in Wednesday's loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. ... The teams split their first two games at ACC, with the Leafs winning 5-1 on April 13 and the Habs winning 5-2 on Feb. 27. Toronto won both games in Montreal 2-1 on Jan. 19 and 6-0 on Feb. 9. ... Canadiens defenseman Tomas Kaberle and forward Colby Armstrong previously played for the Leafs. Both were scratched from Saturday's game. Toronto defenseman Ryan O'Byrne, who was a scratch from the game, and forward Mikhail Grabovski formerly played for the Habs.
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