Toronto, ON – The regular season is over for the Montreal Canadiens, but the wait continues to see if they will capture the Northeast Division.
Peter Budaj stopped 16 shots and the Canadiens got goals from four different players in a 4-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in the regular season finale for both clubs.
Montreal's win combined with Boston's overtime loss at Washington gives the Canadiens a one-point lead (63-62) on the Bruins in the race for the division title and the Eastern Conference's No. 2 seed.
Boston hosts Ottawa Sunday night in a rescheduled contest that was postponed on April 15 due to the Boston Marathon bombings. The Bruins need to win the game to capture the division.
Lars Eller had a goal and a pair of assists for the Canadiens (29-14-5), while Brendan Gallagher, Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Markov each scored once.
"It's important that we finish the year playing good hockey," Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges said. "A lot of times you don't want to base it on wins and losses. It's about how your playing, the process. For most of the last game, we played pretty consistent, good hockey. That's the way we're going to have to play if we're going to have success in the playoffs."
Phil Kessel had the lone goal for the Maple Leafs (26-17-5), who hold the fifth spot in the East. Should Boston win Sunday, the Canadiens and Maple Leafs would play each other -- for the first time since 1979 -- in the first round of the playoffs. If Boston loses, the Bruins will face the Maple Leafs.
James Reimer gave up four goals on 23 shots in defeat. He was pulled in the third period, and Ben Scrivens made five stops the rest of the way.
"Obviously it wasn't my best game, a couple of unlucky bounces," Reimer said. "You just take the positives. It's a new season now."
Kessel scored on the power play with 4:24 left in the opening period on a wrist shot from the left circle through a screened Budaj, but that was all the offense Toronto could muster.
Montreal tied the game with 1:59 left in the opening period. Gallagher fed the puck from above the right circle to a streaking Eller, who deflected it by Reimer.
Markov's tally at 4:19 of the second, a shot from above the left circle after a face-off win by Eller, provided the Canadiens with the lead.
Gallagher's goal at 9:18 of the period on a loose puck from in front, made it 3-1. Toronto defenseman Carl Gunnarsson was slow to get to the disc, creating the opportunity.
Plekanec scored 2:25 into the third on a rising shot from the left circle.
Kessel leads all active Toronto players in career goals (14), assists (20) and points (34) in 40 games against Montreal ... Toronto defenseman Dion Phaneuf played in his 600th NHL game ... Toronto was 1-for-7 on the power play, while Montreal was 0-for-6.