TORONTO – Brian Gionta is already looking forward to the next time the Montreal Canadiens play Toronto—he can't wait to put Saturday's game behind him.
Montreal's goaltenders allowed four goals on five shots en route to a 5-1 loss to the Maple Leafs. It's the second time this season the Canadiens have lost a lopsided game to the Leafs, who shut them out 6-0 in Montreal on Feb. 9.
“We played a little harder tonight than we did in that other game,” Gionta said. “We never quit, which was a good thing. It just wasn't our night.
“We got to find an answer for it. We got them one more time at the end of the season, so obviously it's something we want to forget and put behind us.”
Carey Price let in three goals on four shots in just over half a period of work before being pulled for backup Peter Budaj, who allowed one more in the first and another in the second. It's the only time this season Toronto has scored four goals in the opening period.
“Obviously Price had a rough night,” Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle said. “He's a world-class goaltender. You don't get many of those evenings from him. I'm sure he's going to rebound.
“The next one he plays will be outstanding because that's the type of character he's demonstrated throughout his career. He's an elite-level goalie … Usually they make amends. The next team that plays him I'm sure will see a different Carey Price.”
It was just the second time this season Price had been pulled from a game. The other was March 27 in Boston, when he allowed four goals on 26 shots in two periods of work.
“I put us behind the 8-ball right off the bat,” Price said. “You can't come out with a start like that … Sometimes they just find a way in. You overplay them and it ends up biting you.
“Obviously it's not a very pleasant feeling when you know you've let your teammates down. That's the hardest thing. Those guys put in a full 60 minutes and you didn't come through for them. That's the hardest part. You just have to move on.”
Price's teammates, however, weren't about to let their star goalie take the blame.
“Carey has given us a chance to win every night,” Gionta said. “It's not Carey's fault. We got to do a better job protecting him and not letting shots through, regardless of what happens. He's a proud guy and he's won a lot of games for us.”
It was Montreal's first game after clinching a playoff berth. Despite the slanted score in favour of the Leafs, the Canadiens remained in the game early.
“We came to play,” Therrien said. “I thought we were setting the tone of the game in the first period. We were skating well, managing the puck well, we took some good shots and we were playing our game.”
Subban played a game-high 24:49 minutes and was minus-1. The Leafs looked to be getting under his skin as Subban took two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
“It's frustrating when you're down 5-1,” Subban said. “It's easy to chirp and talk when you're up 5-1.
“All you can do in a game like that is keep grinding away at it, and hopefully you get a bounce and get back in the game. At one point it was a 3-1 game. Down by two goals in the first period, that's not horrible.”
The Canadiens are just 1-3-0 against the Leafs this season with one game remaining. It'll come on the final day of the season, April 27 in Toronto.
“They're exciting games, they're hard-fought games,” Gionta said. “But at the same time we've got to find a way to beat them.”