This series looked headed back for Montreal even for most of Game 4 between the Senators and Canadiens on Tuesday night in Ottawa. Then, all of a sudden, Ottawa turned things around, got two goals in short order in the third, and it was, all of a sudden, a collapse from the Canadiens. Then things somehow got worse.
Carey Price went down and was forced to leave the game with an injury on the final shot of regulation. It was one of the stranger injuries you'll ever see. There was no dramatic fall to the ice, just a stumble, and then a limp. Then he was gone. I've honestly never seen anything like it. Price is now out for the rest of the series with a lower-body injury. Canadiens captain Brian Gionta is also out for the series and likely the rest of the playoffs with a torn biceps.
So now the Canadiens come home for Game 5, with Peter Budaj in net. Budaj gave up a goal on two shots -- Kyle Turri' overtime winner -- in Game 4. I guess if there's any hope for the Habs... well, there's that saying that it's always darkest before the dawn, isn't it?
Will Peter Budaj make a difference?
One would have to hope he'll be better than that one-outta-two performance he gave on Tuesday night. It's worth noting that Peter Budaj played quite decently this season in relief of Carey Price. He finished the 2012-13 campaign with an 8-1-1 record, a .908 save percentage and a 2.29 goals against average. He even got a shutout. While those numbers aren't exactly Hall of Famer stats, he will be no pushover assuming he's allowed the typical time to prepare and not come in cold. One ironic thing about those statistics: his only regulation loss of the season was to Ottawa.
Is Brian Gionta the more critical loss for Montreal?
The forward has only one point in the series, but he is their captain and thereby their emotional leader. Gionta also has a ton of playoff experience, whether it's the Canadiens miraculous run to the Eastern Conference Final in 2010, or the New Jersey Devils' Stanley Cup-winning team in 2003. He's a presence for this Montreal team, and you have to think that his absence will be noticeable. Then again, they won the only other game he missed in this series, so who knows?
Are the Senators about to take the next step?
Remember, no one thought the Senators were good enough to make the playoffs last year. That's when they took the No. 1-seeded Rangers to seven games. Then no one thought they could bounce back from injuries to make the playoffs this year. Now they're a game away from their first post-season series win since the 2007 Eastern Conference Final. Just where is this Sens team headed?
Game Time: 7 p.m. ET
National TV: CBC, RDS, CNBC