Unfortunately, all good things had to come to a close. For the Montreal Canadiens, it wasn't the storybook ending that would have been befitting of their Cinderella run to the Stanley Cup Final.
The disappointment that an entire region (and some might say, an entire country) is feeling right now was evident on the faces of franchise goaltender Carey Price and team captain Shea Weber shortly after the Habs bowed out to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final, a 1-0 Lightning victory that earned them their 2nd straight Stanley Cup championship.
"It's incredibly disappointing, but I'm only disappointed about the result," Price said in the team's post-game media availability session. "In the end, I don't think I played well enough at the start of the series."
"It's hard to look ahead right now. We'll just take some time off to regroup, lick our winds and get back at it eventually."
To their credit, nobody expected the Canadiens to qualify for the Stanley Cup Final, much less get out of the 1st round against the favored Toronto Maple Leafs. But after a thrilling come-from-behind seven games series victory, people began to believe. Price was spectacular as the Canadiens subsequently pulled off a sweep of the Winnipeg Jets, and then outdueled the Jennings Trophy-winning tandem of Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner in Round 3 against the favored Vegas Golden Knights.
But unfortunately for Montreal, they ran into a buzz-saw in the form of the Lightning.
For Weber, he believes it was a matter of his team not playing well enough in front of Price, who posted a solid .924 save percentage in 22 playoff contests.
"I don't think that's the case at all, to be honest," Weber said after Price stated he believes he didn't play up to standard. "I think that we didn't play well enough in front of Carey. I mean, give them credit. They're a heck of a team, they're here for a reason, and they were better than us in the end."
"I'm very proud obviously - this group has a lot of character, and went up against a lot of adversity this year," Weber said of his teammates. "We proved a lot of people wrong in a tough year, to boot, in a year that wasn't normal. Guys stuck together and battled hard, and I wouldn't change it for anything. I'm super proud of these guys."