You can't expect Carey Price to do everything for the Montreal Canadiens.
The Habs goaltender was kept busy by the Toronto Maple Leafs, making 39 saves on the night but it wouldn't be one of those nights where his work could steal a win. Price admitted post-game that he's passed the frustration stage on the Canadiens season, and moved on to disappointment.
A pair of late third period goals by Mikhail Grabovski would give the Leafs a 3-1 victory, and the first for new Toronto bench boss Randy Carlyle. The one-time Habs outcast figured in all three Toronto goals for the game's First Star.
Jonas Gustavsson was extremely shaky between the pipes for Toronto, through most of the game, but had some "timely" saves as one commentator put it. In total the Leafs' netminder made 21 stops, but many of those were not legitimate scoring chances.
The Canadiens had the early momentum, outshooting the Leafs 6-3 through the first 10 minutes of the first period. One of those shots would be Montreal's only goal, coming of the stick of Erik Cole at 7:16 of the period.
The home team seemed to have the momentum, then all of a sudden it stopped following a tilt between the Canadiens' Brad Staubitz and Toronto's Mike Brown. The exchange of fists developed after Staubitz checked Leafs' captain Dion Phaneuf in the corner. Brown objected to the legal hit and the gloves were off.
The Leafs then took over, getting 10 shots to the Habs 4 the rest of the period. Of note during the HNIC broadcast was a fancy graphic showing scoring chances. It was deemed a tad generous for the Leafs by many observers, but it certainly was a move in the right direction. Unfortunately, I don't recall seeing it as the game progressed.
The Leafs scored the lone goal of the second period, when Matt Fratin sniped one over the elbow of Price, snapping the puck immediately off the faceoff at 6:50. Shots in the second period were 12-10 Leafs with few scoring chances at either end.
Montreal's lone power-play of the game came during the second period. While the team maintained pressure for over 90 seconds without interruption, they only managed a pair of perimeter shots.
Toronto put up a 17-5 shot margin, with the Grabovski show taking over. The Leafs center's 19th goal of the season came off a snap shot that ricocheted off the cross bar and in, at 11:45 . He added his 20th on the power-play with 53 seconds remaining in the game.
The Canadiens were schooled in the faceoff circle by a 18-34 margin. Much of that fell on Tomas Plekanec, who was destroyed by Grabovski, David Steckel and Tyler Bozak (0 for 13 combined).
The win gives Toronto that glimmer of playoff hope. Their fate could fall on the last meeting between these two clubs on April 7th. We've already established there will be no post-season on Montreal.
The Canadiens head out on their annual Western Canada swing, starting with the Calgary Flames on Tuesday.
Following the game, the Canadiens sent Andreas Engqvist back to the Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL).
Three Stars: 1. Mikhail Grabovski 2. Erik Cole 3. Carey Price
Animated winning reaction from Pension Plan Puppets who will be happy to know the Habs can't win the regualar season series.