Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 3, OT

The Montreal Canadiens quickly turned the page on their latest

loss because their effort through regulation was enough to prolong

their season.

Montreal clinched an Eastern Conference playoff spot despite

losing 4-3 Saturday night on Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion

Phaneuf’s overtime goal. Phaneuf netted the winner goal at 3:06,

but the Canadiens had locked up their place in the playoffs once

the game was pushed to extra time.

Phaneuf scored for the second straight game to give Toronto the

win in a game it never led. He notched his first goal with the

Maple Leafs on Wednesday.

Andrei Markov had a goal and two assists for Montreal, which

closed out its schedule with three losses in a row (0-1-2) yet

qualified for its third straight trip to the playoffs with its 88th


“We needed it,” said Marc-Andre Bergeron, who scored late in

the second to make it 3-2. “We’re all proud people in here. We

knew we weren’t doing as well as we could lately. Now that we’re

in, it’s mission accomplished.”

The Canadiens, who failed to hold three one-goal leads, will be

the No. 7 or No. 8 seed in the East. That will be determined by

Sunday’s game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Rangers.

With the outcome still at stake, Montreal players engaged in a

muted celebration at the end of the third – sticks tapped on the

boards and a few glove taps. A standing ovation rained down on them

from the sold-out crowd.

“Of course we wanted to win the game, but we got the point and

we’re going to take that,” Markov said. “That’s what we


Montreal’s loss secured the sixth seed for the Boston


Toronto coach Ron Wilson was asked if he considered pulling

goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere late in the third to try to prevent

Montreal from securing a playoff berth.

“A lot of people would say to try and do something like that,

but it would be fooling around with the integrity of the game,”

Wilson said. “It wouldn’t be right to pull the goalie. You’re

going to overtime, you play it like a normal game. I wouldn’t do

something like that.”

Christian Hanson scored his first two goals of the season for

Toronto. His second was a short-handed tally in the third that got

the Maple Leafs even at 3.

“If you’re going to make an impression, make it in the last

game,” Wilson said. “He’s struggled to get any kind of points to

make himself noticed, and tonight he did.”

Hanson, who had one goal in his previous 35 games, put a

backhander past goalie Jaroslav Halak and inside the right post at

3:32. He scored his first goal in 31 games to tie it 1-1 midway

through the opening period.

The Maple Leafs made it 2-2 when Viktor Stalberg scored his

ninth goal 11:55 into the second.

“We were talking about how we wanted to end it before overtime

and make them wait for (Sunday) to see if they get in the playoffs

or not,” Hanson said. “That didn’t happen, but we had a lot of

pride on the line and we were going for the win.”

Markov opened the scoring with his sixth goal 6:14 in when his

backhander from the left edge of the crease went in off the right

skate of former teammate Mikhail Grabovski.

Brian Gionta scored his team-leading 28th goal on a power play

at 16:17 to restore the Canadiens’ one-goal lead at 2-1.

Markov got his third point of the game when he fed Scott Gomez’s

faceoff win to Bergeron, who drove a one-timer past Giguere to give

the Canadiens’ their third lead 18:23 into the second.

Montreal came close to winning in overtime when Mike Cammalleri

put a backhander off the right post. Benoit Pouliot fired a slap

shot off the right corner of the net moments later.

“We kept coming back,” Wilson said. “We needed a great effort

from our goalie and a little bit of luck, but we hung around and

took advantage of a couple of their mistakes. We got the bounces

and maybe they didn’t. We were really pushing to win the game in

regulation, but we knew they were playing for one point in the

third period.”

NOTES: Veteran referee Dan Marouelli worked his final

regular-season game. Members of both teams gathered to shake his

hand when the game ended. … Giguere stopped 34 shots. … C Tim

Brent made his Maple Leafs debut. Recalled from the Toronto Marlies

of the AHL earlier Saturday, Brent had one goal in 18 previous NHL

games with Anaheim, Pittsburgh and Chicago.