It was the home team with a lopsided win. The visitors were outplayed at every turn, out-coached at every moment. The frustration started to boil over - first with dumb penalties, then the fights, then a full on brawl. Players were tossed, penalty minutes racked up, and the game ended with comically thin benches.
Oh, and the time out. Can’t forget the time out.
If that didn’t give it away, I wasn’t describing last night’s game - that was the infamous “game three” against Montreal in 2013.
That game was the beginning of the end for the Habs in that series. They hadn’t just been beat, they had been picked apart piece by piece and the entire lineup and coaching staff humiliated. At the other end, it established a confidence and swagger in the Senators that would carry them into the next round handily.
The parallels are worrisome, but not complete. Possibly the difference with the most potential to change the script is Guy Boucher - he was soundly out-coached last night, as well as in game three - but unlike Michel Therrien in 2013 he doesn’t seem to be going into meltdown.
The core of these last two losses isn’t poor execution, lack of effort, lack of heart, or bad bounces. Those have all been on display, sure, but central to them all is that the weaknesses in the lineup and in the system have been exploited with almost surgical precision. Defensively that extends into game two as well - there’s a reason the Rangers scored five.
To get past this and have the team actually be in the suddenly best-of-three series, it’s going to be on Boucher to adjust things properly. The fault that the Rangers have been exploiting to create so many odd-man rushes for the past three games needs to be fixed or compensated for. The extreme imbalance in net front traffic from the past two games needs to be brought back closer to even. The frustration that spilled out on to the ice at the end of the game last night needs to be dealt with and channelled into something productive. Erik Karlsson needs to heal.
Okay, that last one probably isn’t on Boucher.
In 2013, it was the panic button that Montreal hit and we all know how it ended. Fortunately this team, with this coach, still have a chance at hitting the reset button instead and turning things back around again in the series.