The Toronto Maple Leafs have once again blown a major opportunity in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Leafs were defeated, and eliminated from the playoffs, in Game 7 by the Montreal Canadiens, after Toronto had a commanding 3-1 series lead.
It marked the first meeting in the playoffs between the rivals in 42 years, and it marked further ineptitude for the Maple Leafs in the playoffs. The Maple Leafs haven’t won a playoff series since 2004, have eight straight losses in series-clinching games, and have lost a winner-take-all game in four straight postseasons.
“It’s really hard to put it into words. We’re obviously devastated, disappointed. We felt we were capable of a lot more. Not just tonight, but in the whole series,” Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said, according to ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski.
“The expectation within the room was high. The goals are higher than what we achieved this year. It makes the disappointment that much worse,” Toronto defenseman Morgan Rielly said. “We feel it. We realize we let an opportunity slip [away]. That’s unacceptable by our standards, and that makes the loss a lot worse than anything we’ve had to deal with before.”
Leafs winger Mitchell Marner’s turnover led to a Brendan Gallagher goal on Toronto goalie Jack Campbell at 3:02 of the second period, a goal Campbell described as “the worst goal of my career” after the game.
“It’s a straight-on shot in the NHL. It should be an automatic save. No excuses. Unacceptable. I just feel bad that the guys worked so hard and that happened tonight,” said Campbell. “The team counts on me to be better, and I know I can be a lot better than that. So I’m going to get back to work and be better.”
“We didn’t score enough. We didn’t play with the lead. And that made it hard,” Keefe continued.
“I felt like in every game we have a couple of Grade-A chances right in front of the net that just rolled off a stick or we shot it too early. We’ve gotta have more patience with the puck,” Marner said. “It feels like it’s always the same stuff. We know we’ve gotta be better.