Habs end Leafs' misery

SUN WIRE SERVICES

, Last Updated: 12:04 PM ET

At Montreal, Christopher Higgins scored two goals as the Canadiens kept their bid for first place in the Eastern Conference alive with a regular season-ending 3-1 victory over the Maple Leafs last night.

The Canadiens need the Penguins to earn no more than one point from their final game today against Philadelphia to claim top spot in the conference for the first time since 1988-89.

But whatever that result, the Canadiens will open the playoffs next week against the Bruins.

It will be the third time in their last four playoff appearances that Montreal will open the post-season against the Bruins, against whom they were 8-0 this season. Montreal's all-time record in playoff series against Boston is 23-7.

Their 104 points is also their highest total for a season since they had 115 in 1988-89.

Mark Streit also scored for the Canadiens.

Mark Bell scored for the Leafs, who ended the season 36-35-11 and missed the playoffs for a third straight year.

Toronto goaltender Andrew Raycroft had a strong first period, stopping rookie Greg Stewart on a breakaway among his 12 saves, but was beaten on a medium-speed shot from the point by Streit at 9:00 of the middle period that sneaked under his right arm.

Meanwhile, Saku Koivu is optimistic his fractured left foot will heal enough to let him start the playoffs but the Canadiens captain said nothing is certain.

"What's going to happen in the future, for the first game, we'll see next week," Koivu said. "Every day it feels better, but there's not much we can tell.

"We'll know a lot more in the next couple of days."

SURGERY FOR VINNY

Canada's entry at this year's world hockey championship can scratch Vincent Lecavalier from its wish list. The Lightning centre will have surgery to repair damage to his right shoulder. Lecavalier was hurt in Thursday's game at Washington. His shoulder was dislocated when he fell awkwardly after a hit by Washington's Matt Cooke. Tests on Friday showed Lecavalier damaged the labrum of the right shoulder. A date for surgery and the establishment of a rehab schedule should come in seven-to-10 days when inflammation subsides. Recovery time is expected to be 12-15 weeks, which means Lecavalier could be ready for the start of training camp next season.

HABS OUTDOORS?

The Canadiens will play host to the all-star game and the draft at the Bell Centre in 2009 as part of the club's 100th anniversary celebrations. Bill Daly, the league's deputy commissioner, also confirmed that the Canadiens have asked to play a regular-season game outdoors in the same week as the all-star game, although the NHL has yet to decide whether to give it approval.


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