No silver lining for vanquished

AL STRACHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:49 AM ET


 By most standards, the Montreal Canadiens had a good run this season. The consensus was that they wouldn't even make the playoffs, let alone win a round.

 But that was no consolation for Canadiens captain Saku Koivu after his team was swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

 "It's a frustrating feeling," Koivu said. "There's no tomorrow for us, and right now you don't have too many positive things in your mind.

 TOUGH TO DEAL WITH

 "It's tough to deal with things like that right now, but in a couple of days, that may change."

 A large part of the Canadiens' difficulties, Koivu said, was that they scored the first goal only once against the Lightning.

 "Our team is really good when we have a lead," he said. "But you have to give credit to Tampa Bay. There has to be a reason why they finished first this year.

 "Sometimes it seemed like we had the puck most of the night, but they played well defensively and they got great goaltending."

 "Mentally, we gave everything we had, but they were just one step ahead of us in a lot of places.

 "In the second period, I thought we outplayed them, but they got two goals. We got none."

 For the most part, it was Koivu's line -- with Alex Kovalev and a number of others -- that carried the Montreal offence. Kovalev was a trade-deadline acquisition and will be a free agent in the summer, but if Koivu has a say, Kovalev will be back.

 "I really enjoyed playing with him," Koivu said. "I'm crossing my fingers that he's going to be here next year. He's fun to watch and he's a lot of fun to play with."


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