The Ottawa Senators snatched Game 1 from the Canadiens in Montreal, but when handed a golden opportunity to take Game 2 against a beat-up Habs, the Sens faltered. They missed their best chance and are now tied 1-1 in the series, but there is optimism as they get to take the ice in front of their home fans in Game 3.
To be fair, the Senators didn't really even deserve Game 1. They were outplayed for long stretches, but Montreal just couldn't get past Craig Anderson. The goaltender made 48 saves in a magnificent performance and with Erik Karlsson flying forward into the attack, that proved to be enough for the Senators in a 4-2 win.
The Canadiens bounced back in Game 2 with a big second period that saw them score three goals. That proved to be enough for Montreal, who killed off four Ottawa penalties to even the series despite playing without Lars Eller, Brian Gionta and Max Pacioretty.
Now the two teams square off in Ottawa. Canadiens fans will make their presence felt at Scotiabank Place, but the Senators are back on familiar ice and if they want to upend their rivals, it will take a performance more like Game 1.
Will the Senators give Erik Karlsson a breather?
Karlsson's remarkable recovery from a torn Achilles may have convinced some that the defenseman was superhuman, but he proved in Game 2 that even he has limits. The reigning Norris Trophy winner wore down from the heavy minutes the Senators asked of him and made mistakes that he rarely makes. He still got into the rush and made the dynamic plays that Ottawa has come to expect, but he wasn't as tidy as normal and they paid for it.
It would be unrealistic to expect Karlsson not to wear down some. Karlsson played more than 27 minutes in his three regular season games after returning from injury and has been on the ice for more than 29 minutes in the two postseason games. Not even Karlsson can handle that kind of work after missing 10 weeks. Paul MacLean needs to take advantage of going home and getting the last chance to better manage his star defenseman's ice time.
Can the Canadiens overcome their injuries?
Montreal won Game 2 despite playing without Eller, Gionta and Pacioretty and they may have to do it again in Game 3. Eller is definitely out for the contest with a concussion and facial fractures and while Gionta and Pacioretty both made the trip to Ottawa, they are listed as questionable. That is on top of Alexei Emelin's season-ending knee injury so the Canadiens are really testing their depth at this point.
Will Montreal get Game 1 Carey Price or Game 2 Carey Price?
Carey Price was shaky in Game 1, but he bounced back with a strong Game 2, making 29 saves in the Canadiens' win. Maybe it was losing teeth that woke him up or maybe he just settled in, but Montreal has their fingers crossed that the Price they saw in Game 2 is the Price they're going to get going forward. He wasn't spectacular, but he was solid and dependable, and that is all the Canadiens need.