Game 82: Habs are in the playoffs … barely

The Canadiens celebrate a goal on Saturday night against the Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre. Phil Carpenter, The Gazette

Preview | Matchups | Saturday’s NHL schedule | Boone’s Game Blog and About last night … | Stubbs on Twitter | Hickey’s game story

AUDIO: Jacques Martin | Mike Cammalleri | Brian Gionta | Hal Gill | Andrei Markov | Marc-André Bergeron | Mathieu Darche

• At a Glance: The Canadiens grabbed the lead three times on Saturday night, but were never able to hold on to them as the Maple Leafs defeated Montreal 4-3 in overtime, with Dion Phaneuf scoring the winner. The point for the overtime loss was enough to guarantee the Canadiens a spot in the playoffs, however. Andrei Markov opened the scoring 6:14 into the game when his shot went in off Mikhail Grabovski’s skate in front of Jean-Sébastien Giguère. But Christian Hanson scored his first career NHL goal three minutes later when he took advantage of Jaroslav’s Halak puckhandling miscue to slide the puck into an empty net. Brian Gionta scored his team-leading 28th of the season 16:17 into the period on the power play on a nice pass from Scott Gomez. The Leafs tied it again in the second period when Viktor Stalberg beat Halak top shelf with a nice shot 11:55 into the period. The Canadiens took a 3-2 lead before the end of the second period when Marc-André Bergeron scored with a bullet from the point off a faceoff. But the Leafs were not going to go quietly with Hanson scoring a shorthanded goal 3:32 into the third period, one Halak would definitely like to have a second chance at. That was the Leafs’ third goal on only 17 shots up to that point in the game.

• What It Means: The overtime loss gives the Canadiens a 39-33-10 record for the season and 88 points, giving them seventh place in the East.

• What’s Next: The Canadiens will be watching the scoreboard Sunday, but it won’t be to see if they make the playoffs or not. The results of Sunday’s games will determine where they finish in the Eastern Conference standings. If the Flyers defeat the Rangers, Montreal will finish in eighth place and will face the Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs.

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