MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens quickly turned the page on their latest loss because their effort through regulation was enough to prolong their season.
Montreal clinched an Eastern Conference playoff spot despite losing 4-3 Saturday on Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf's overtime goal. Phaneuf netted the winner goal at 3:06, but the Canadiens had locked up their place in the playoffs once the game was pushed to extra time.
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Phaneuf scored for the second straight game to give Toronto the win in a game it never led. He notched his first goal with the Maple Leafs on Wednesday.
Andrei Markov had a goal and two assists for Montreal, which closed out its schedule with three losses in a row (0-1-2) yet qualified for its third straight trip to the playoffs with its 88th point.
"We needed it," said Marc-Andre Bergeron, who scored late in the second to make it 3-2. "We're all proud people in here. We knew we weren't doing as well as we could lately. Now that we're in, it's mission accomplished."
The Canadiens, who failed to hold three one-goal leads, will be the No. 7 or No. 8 seed in the East. That will be determined by Sunday's game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers.
With the outcome still at stake, Montreal players engaged in a muted celebration at the end of the third -- sticks tapped on the boards and a few glove taps. A standing ovation rained down on them from the sold-out crowd.
"Of course we wanted to win the game, but we got the point and we're going to take that," Markov said. "That's what we needed."
Montreal's loss secured the sixth seed for the Boston Bruins.
Toronto coach Ron Wilson was asked if he considered pulling goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere late in the third to try to prevent Montreal from securing a playoff berth.
"A lot of people would say to try and do something like that, but it would be fooling around with the integrity of the game," Wilson said. "It wouldn't be right to pull the goalie. You're going to overtime, you play it like a normal game. I wouldn't do something like that."
Christian Hanson scored his first two goals of the season for Toronto. His second was a short-handed tally in the third that got the Maple Leafs even at 3.
"If you're going to make an impression, make it in the last game," Wilson said. "He's struggled to get any kind of points to make himself noticed, and tonight he did."
Hanson, who had one goal in his previous 35 games, put a backhander past goalie Jaroslav Halak and inside the right post at 3:32. He scored his first goal in 31 games to tie it 1-1 midway through the opening period.
The Maple Leafs made it 2-2 when Viktor Stalberg scored his ninth goal 11:55 into the second.
"We were talking about how we wanted to end it before overtime and make them wait for [Sunday] to see if they get in the playoffs or not," Hanson said. "That didn't happen, but we had a lot of pride on the line and we were going for the win."
Markov opened the scoring with his sixth goal 6:14 in when his backhander from the left edge of the crease went in off the right skate of former teammate Mikhail Grabovski.
Brian Gionta scored his team-leading 28th goal on a power play at 16:17 to restore the Canadiens' one-goal lead at 2-1.
Markov got his third point of the game when he fed Scott Gomez's faceoff win to Bergeron, who drove a one-timer past Giguere to give the Canadiens' their third lead 18:23 into the second.
"We kept coming back," Wilson said. "We needed a great effort from our goalie and a little bit of luck, but we hung around and took advantage of a couple of their mistakes. We got the bounces and maybe they didn't. We were really pushing to win the game in regulation, but we knew they were playing for one point in the third period."
|Even though they lost, the Canadiens wave to their fans after making the playoffs. (Getty Images)|
|Toronto (30-38-14) «||1||1||1||1||4|
|06:14||Andrei Markov (6), Backhand Shot. Assist: Pouliot|
|09:12||Christian Hanson (1), Snap Shot. Assist: Grabovski, Stalberg|
|16:17||Power Play - Brian Gionta (28), Slap Shot. Assist: Gomez, Markov|
|11:55||Viktor Stalberg (9), Slap Shot. Assist: Bozak, Beauchemin|
|18:23||Marc-Andre Bergeron (13), Slap Shot. Assist: Markov, Gomez|
|03:32||Short - Christian Hanson (2), Backhand Shot. Assist: Mitchell, Gunnarsson|
|02:06||Dion Phaneuf (12), Wrist Shot. Assist: Hanson, Mitchell|
|12:40||Plekanec, 2 min, Cross-Checking|
|16:05||Primeau, 2 min, High-Sticking|
|17:27||Phaneuf, 2 min, Tripping|
|05:58||Orr, 2 min, Roughing|
|14:59||Caputi, 2 min, Delay of Game - Puck Over Glass|
|02:23||Kostitsyn, 2 min, Roughing|
|02:23||Caputi, 2 min, Roughing|
|02:23||Orr, 2 min, Roughing|
|Shots On Goal|
|Attendance - 21273|
|Referees - Dan Marouelli, Wes McCauley|
|Linesmen - Dan Schachte, Jay Sharrers|