Leave it to the Toronto Maple Leafs to put their archrivals from Montreal in full panic mode.
With little to play for in terms of the playoffs, Toronto still took pleasure in dominating the Canadiens at the Bell Centre Saturday night.
Forwards Alexei Ponikarovsky and Mikhail Grabovski both had big nights, scoring four points to hand the Leafs a 5-2 victory over Montreal.
The line of Ponikarovsky, Grabovski and winger Nikolai Kulemin were simply overpowering, combining for 10 points.
"I was really excited [Friday] when my son was born and I just wanted to play a good game and score goals, and that's what we did," said Kulemin, using Ponikarovsky as his translator.
"Basically, I try to do that every night. Some nights it's not there, but I try my best."
The Canadiens (36-27-9) continue a slide that's seen them lose five straight games. However, Montreal received some good news in an otherwise frustrating night.
That's because the team remains in the eight and final playoff spot by one point in the Eastern Conference after Florida dropped a 3-1 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets Saturday night.
"The NHL is a lot about momentum and we don't have it now, or we have it but it's going in the wrong direction," said Montreal coach Bob Gainey. "We've allowed it to go against us.
"Until it's stopped, until we have more players playing better for a bigger chunk of a 60-minute game, we'll continue to have problems."
The Leafs overwhelmed the Canadiens from the onset of the game, outshooting Montreal 37-28 on the night.
Lapierre shines for Habs
Centre Maxim Lapierre, who scored both goals for the Canadiens, was the lone bright spot for Montreal. Netminder Jaroslav Halak had a miserable time against Toronto, allowing five markers despite making 32 saves.
Even when an early video review of a scoring attempt by Kulemin went in Montreal's favour, the desperate Canadiens couldn't avoid trouble.
Toronto jumped on its rival with two goals in a 23-second span in the first period.
Kulemin opened the scoring at 7:51, one-timing a Ponikarovsky pass behind a helpless Jaroslav Halak.
Before the Canadiens could collect themselves, the Leafs struck again. Grabovski directed a bad-angle shot toward the net that Halak misplayed through his pads.
The Leafs wouldn't let up, increasing their advantage to 3-0 on a delayed penalty against the Canadiens just 3:09 into the second. Already sporting a pair of assists, Ponikarovsky drove a shot between Halak's legs for his 20th goal of the season.
Ponikarovsky continued his stellar night with the Leafs on the power play at 9:09, slipping a rebound behind Halak.
"I don't consider myself hot," said Ponikarovsky, who tied his career-high with 21 goals for the season. "I'm just trying to play my game and see what happens.
"We had a lot of jump. We tried to play a simple game — support each other on the boards and use speed out wide and put pucks at the net."
Lapierre finally gave Montreal fans something to cheer about with two goals in less than three minutes. After converting his 13th tally at 12:50 of the second, Lapierre brought the Canadiens within two when he buried a shot in the slot.
But Jason Blake put to rest any thoughts of a comeback when his power-play goal at 4:21 of the third put Toronto comfortably ahead 5-2.
With the game out of hand, the sold-out crowd at the Bell Centre booed the Canadiens.
If the Habs are to make their move, they must start to pick up points on this home stand, with Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Buffalo and Chicago coming to town in the next four games.