Carey Price made 37 saves for his first victory of the season, while Cole Caufield scored his first career hat-trick.

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The Montreal Canadiens ended their disastrous 2021-22 season on a positive note.

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Cole Caufield scored his first NHL career hat-trick and Carey Price made 37 saves to give the Habs a lopsided 10-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Friday at the Bell Center. The Canadiens end the season with a league-worst 22-49-11 record.

It wasn’t exactly the real President’s Cup-winning Panthers at the other end⁠—they rested most of their regulars with the playoffs fast approaching⁠—but with little else to celebrate this season, the Habs can at least enter the offseason knowing they delivered Price a victory in the final game of his abbreviated season. It was also his 700th career start from him.

The Canadiens last hit double-digits in goals in a single game in 2017. With 23 goals, Caufield ends the season tied for a second in rookie goal scoring.

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It was equipment manager Pierre Gervais’ final game with the team after 35 years with the organization. He was given a proper sendoff. Captain Shea Weber appeared for a group photo.

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Less than two minutes in, Jordan Harris opened scoring with his first career NHL goal. The shot deflected off a Panther skate and past third-stringer Jonas Johansson.

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Mike Hoffman ended the season on a bit of a tear. His fourth goal in five games gave Montreal a quick 2-1 lead.

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Just 12 seconds after the Hoffman marker, Caufield made it three goals on three shots for the Canadiens.

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The Panthers just wanted the season to end and the Canadiens were motivated to give their goaltender his first win of the season. Brendan Gallagher made it 4-0 Habs. In likely his final game for the Canadiens, Mathieu Perreault showed patience in passing to his linemate.

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Former Hab Ben Chiarot got one back for the Panthers. The first period ended with the Habs up 4-1.

At 1:33 of the second, Caufield scored a highlight reel goal, dancing between two defenders and beating Johansson with a backhand.

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Then Perreault got in on the action with an unexpected blast to make it 6-1. It was his second point of the night.

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The goals kept coming and the numbers kept aligning. After No. 22 scored his 22nd, no. 71 Jake Evans made it 7-1 after tucking one home in front. Evans ends the season with 29 points.

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That’s not all. Christian Dvorak continued his recent hot play with his 11th off a rebound. After a difficult acclimation period in Montreal, Dvorak surpassed last season’s point total with 33, one-third of which came in April. After four goals in the second period, the Habs were up 8-1 with 20 to play in their season.

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In the third, Caufield was trying for a hat-trick, and it finally came at 8:12 of the period. Caufield passed the puck from his skate to his stick blade before snapping one home.

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A mostly forgotten man since his mid-season acquisition in the Tyler Toffoli trade, Tyler Pitlick broke his season-long slump with his first as a Hab to give Montreal their 10th goal of the night. The numbers once again came together, and fans started chanting the name of the legendary number 10, Guy Guy Guy.

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Noel Acciari closed the night with Florida’s second goal to make it 10-2.

After missing the last two games, Price unexpectedly returned and had a solid night in goal. The crowd cheered him on and he flashed a smile after making a glove save on former teammate Chiarot. The defenseman gave Price a grin in return. His linemates desperately tried to get Josh Anderson his 20th from him, but it was not to be.

The fate of the Canadiens was already sealed before Friday, but even though the 82nd game of the season was meaningless in the standings, the Liveblog commenters had just as much fun as the players watching 10 pucks hit the back of the net. In less than a year, the Habs and their fans went from the euphoria of an unexpected Stanley Cup Final run to arguably the nadir of the franchise in modern times as they became the first club in league history to finish 32nd out of 32 teams.

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The devastating plummet cost team architect Marc Bergevin his job. Coach Dominique Ducharme wasn’t spared, either. Now the torch is in the hands of Jeff Gorton, Kent Hughes and Martin St. Louis, and Liveblog commenters enter a new offseason with cautious optimism and understanding that a quick oil change to the current roster won’t do.

But there’s Nick Suzuki, Caufield, Jacques Beauchamp-Molson Trophy recipient Alexander Romanov and a few promising prospects set to replace the aging core over time. And there’s a very high draft pick coming up in July. Whether it’s a first, second or third overall pick will be decided on May 10.

So while the Liveblog commenters entered last offseason on a high expecting a fall, this summer they know there’s nowhere to go but up. Thanks to everyone who dropped by the Liveblog in 2021-22. Even the losses are a little more palatable when you’re in good company.

5. “So, it’s been a tough year for Habs fans… dead last in the standings and losing Guy Lafleur… so what do the Habs do tonight in their last game of the year??? pop in ten goals against the number one team in the league… that put #10 up on the scoreboard! is it possible the ghosts from the Forum made their presence felt tonight at the Bell Centre??” -Haari Meech

4. “We know that Florida iced only a shell of their great team tonight but it was terrific to see the Habs dominate a game (at the expense of the Cats) after their frustrating year especially this last game of the Habs season. A fun game to watch, a hat trick for CC and finally a WIN for Price…..” -Hermanus Wittebol

3. “It’s a great way to end the season, the way this game is going. I think it’s great for the guys to head into the summer with this kind of game to end it.” – Greg Gauvreau

2. “Bold prediction, I think Poehling gets 15 goals next year.” -Chris James

1. “So to add a little spice tonight, notice how there’s no complaining when the Habs are up big. Can we all agree from game 1 next fall through the entire season to not: 1. Blame any losses on injuries – no team is exempt. 2. Blame the officials – they make mistakes both ways every game. 3. Blame the War Room and their ‘conspiracy’ against the Habs. 4. Blame ‘bad ice’ for turnovers. We’re in 32nd place. None of the above would’ve changed this reality, OK I’ll concede maybe the Habs would’ve creeped up to 28th place. What a disastrous result that would be to miss the #1, #2 or #3 pick in July. I’ll pledge right now to never mention any of the above excuses regardless of the outcome of any game. Because they don’t change the outcome. Talent, hard work and skill determines the outcome and your fate over an 82 game schedule.” -Kelly Morgan

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