The Stanley Cup playoff dream is over for the Montreal Canadiens.
A 3-2 Columbus Blue Jackets win over the New York Rangers sealed the Canadiens’ fate on Friday night. It renders Montreal’s final game of the regular season against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday now meaningless.
A late third-period goal by the Rangers’ Pavel Buchnevich tied the game up with seven second left, extending Montreal’s life momentarily. But Columbus’ Artemi Panarin was the only player to score in the shootout, giving the Blue Jackets the final available playoff spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs this year.
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The Canadiens (94 points) can catch the Blue Jackets (96) in points, but would lose the tiebreaker by virtue of having fewer regulation and overtime wins.
It’s unfortunate for the Habs that they’re not in the Western Conference, as 94 points would put them comfortably in a playoff spot. Instead, they’ve found themselves in the unenviable spot of having the best record of all non-playoff teams – thereby giving themselves the worst shot at the No. 1 pick in Tuesday’s NHL Draft Lottery.
Still, the season should be considered a success for the Canadiens, who exceeded everyone’s expectations this year.