The Toronto Maple Leafs' 2018-19 campaign culminated Tuesday night with a familiar bitter feeling when they suffered a Game 7 defeat at the hands of the Boston Bruins for the second year in a row.
However, Toronto's regular-season leading scorer, Mitch Marner, believes all his club can do is use its latest defeat as motivation.
"It sucks," Marner told reporters postgame. "We believe in this team, we have a lot of confidence in this team. Obviously, when a season ends, it sucks. It's got to stay with us, we've got to be hungry for this next year and make sure we come back pissed off."
After earning a franchise-record 105 points in 2017-18, the Leafs reinforced an already dangerous lineup by signing John Tavares in the offseason and acquiring Jake Muzzin before February's trade deadline.
Toronto led the series on three occasions but failed to ever take complete control over a more experienced Bruins team. Still, Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock believes his club made progress this spring.
"I thought our series this year compared to last year, we were a way better hockey club," Babcock said. "I think we're really taking steps and going in the right direction, but we've got to push through and get through this. I mean, that's just the bottom line."
With Tuesday's elimination, the Maple Leafs remain without a playoff series win since 2004.