Morgan Rielly had the only Leafs goal in a 5-1 defeat to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night. The game, played before a crowd of 18,837, was Toronto’s final home game of the season.
The loss guarantees that the Leafs will finish no better than 29th place in the NHL’s overall standings.
A regulation loss to either Philadelphia on Thursday or New Jersey on Saturday will clinch last place for Toronto.
Edmonton, the only team that can finish lower than the Leafs, beat Vancouver 6-2 in their final home game at Rexall Place.
Coach Mike Babcock voiced his displeasure at his team’s effort. “I didn’t think either team was very good in the first. When you turn pucks over and don’t play well without it, it ends up in your net,” Babcock said.
“We had some guys that turned the puck over, we turned the puck over way too much tonight. For the young guys that are going down to play in the Calder Cup Playoffs, it should be a real good reminder to them that if you turn the puck over, you can’t play. It’s impossible. The message should be loud and clear.”
Frederik Gauthier collected his first career NHL point with an assist on Rielly’s goal.
Garret Sparks took the defeat in net, making 27 saves.