The Canadiens were in the midst of a three-game losing streak, scoring just three total goals in losses to Phoenix, San Jose, and Boston.
The Senators would be up next, in a game at the Bell on March 15th, but from the first drop of the puck it seemed the Habs had turned over a new leaf, with Daniel Briere scoring just 38 seconds in and many others coming close on several chances not long after.
The Canadiens looked like they truly had put aside the three losses and were about to get back on course.
Slowly but surely though, Ottawa began to take it to the Montrealers who seemed confused and disorganized after that good opening frame. It quickly became Ottawa’s game, and as the third period wound down, the Senators held a comfortable 4-1 lead and the Canadiens slump would soon reach four.
Ottawa fans smiled. Trickles of fans at the Bell slowly made their way to the exits. Another loss and again no offense from the Canadiens, with just one goal scored.
But at the 16:38 mark of the third, Lars Eller would send the puck past Ottawa goalie Robin Lehner to make it 4-2, although it was too late for any thought of a real comeback. Just not enough time. And they’d been outplayed.
Just over a minute later, at 17:56, that Brian Gionta would suddenly make it a 4-3 game, and eyes and ears perked up. What’s this? Could they score again?
And when Ottawa took a last-minute penalty and Carey Price went to the bench for an extra attacker, the impossible suddenly seemed downright possible.
And it was, with David Desharnais tying it with less than a second to go. And just 1:26 into overtime, Francis Bouillon bulged the twine and sent Sens players and fans to bed cursing.
Tonight these teams play again, in Ottawa this time, and will the mood be ugly? Will the Sens be an ornery team looking for revenge after their collapse at the Bell? Has a growing and heated rivalry been thrust into another gear, with bad blood now overflowing?
Can the Canadiens beat them and put what should be the final nail in the Sens playoff hopes?
Canadiens want home ice in the opening round of the playoffs. They also want no one getting hurt. Tonight’s an important game for all concerned.