The Montreal Canadiens beat the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-1 on April 7 as the each finished disappointing seasons. There was some spirit in the game but it was hardly a classic as both franchises head into the off-season with numerous question marks.
The speedy Thomas Plekanec scored on Ben Scrivens while shorthanded in the first, his 17th, and in the second, Max Pacioretty's 33rd had Montreal head into the third with a 2-0 lead. For the 23-year-old Pacioretty, one of Montreal's bright spots, it was a career high, more than double his previous best when he scored 14 in 2010-11.
In the third Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf got Toronto close, scoring 25 seconds into the period, before Erik Cole, who has been on a scoring tear to end the season, got his 35th. Brad Staubitz scored into an empty net to seal the deal, his first as a Montreal Canadien. Peter Budaj got the win for Montreal, only his 5th of the season.
Canadiens and Leafs: Playoff failures
For Montreal it's the first Stanley Cup playoff miss since the 2006-07 season. The off-season will see them hire a new general manager after the firing of Pierre Gauthier last week. There is also a question mark surrounding head coach Randy Cunneyworth, who replaced Jacques Martin when the latter was fired in December, as the new GM may want to bring in his own coach. The club lacks an identity and may go into a rebuilding mode.
Meanwhile Toronto fans are about to suffer through their eighth consecutive spring without playoff hockey. GM Brian Burke fired head coach Ron Wilson in March and replaced him with former Anaheim Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. The off-season will see the Leafs seek another goalie as Jonas Gustavsson is a free-agent this summer and not expected back. Toronto also needs a front-line center.
Over the past 18 years, Toronto and Montreal, once the two most powerful franchises in the NHL, have only each made the playoffs in the same season 3 times. Montreal last won the Stanley Cup in the 1992-93 season while the Maple Leafs haven't won since 1966-67.