The jury is still out deliberating the importance of the Montreal Canadiens' controversial, but incredible, come-from-behind victory at home against the Ottawa Senators a week ago.
There was no denying the short-term significance. The Canadiens appeared destined for their fourth straight loss. Their playoff hopes appeared to be in peril.
All of a sudden, in the final three minutes and 22 seconds, Lars Eller, Brian Gionta and David Desharnais scored to draw their club even.
The tying marker from Desharnais, with Canadiens goalie Carey Price on the bench, crossed the goal-line with less than a second on the game clock.
Then, the most unlikely offensive hero in 38-year-old defenceman Francis Bouillon scored early in overtime to send his teammates and the Bell Centre into a frenzy.
Bouillon had been a healthy scratch 28 times this season, including a stretch in which he played only twice in the previous 17 outings. He hadn't scored in more than a calendar year. He only has 32 career goals in 767 career NHL games.
"That was pretty awesome," said Bouillon, before his Habs take on the Maple Leafs in Toronto in regular-season game No. 724 between the long-time rivals on Saturday. "Maybe it was the most important goal for me because I'm not a big goal scorer and I had not played in the last month."
The loss angered and stunned the Senators. They have lost three more times since that fiasco last Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Canadiens' comeback lifted them to a win over the Buffalo Sabres the next night, and another against the Colorado Avalanche last Tuesday in an emotional evening that saw the return of Patrick Roy for the first time as a NHL head coach.
"Throughout the season you have games that are season changers, one or two games that if you look back on at the end of the season were key games. That game was one of them," Montreal defenceman Mike Weaver said of his team's comeback last Saturday.
"It showed the kind of character we have in the dressing room. Even with three minutes to go we still had a chance."
For Weaver and sniper Thomas Vanek, a pair of newcomers acquired before the trade deadline, it was an eye-opening experience.
The two veterans weren't exactly accustomed to this sort of late-game heroics after toiling this season with the lowly Florida Panthers and New York Islanders, respectively.
"For me coming in and experiencing that there is still a chance, that was nice to see," Weaver said. "In Florida, you didn't want to think that way, but you often thought the worst when your team was in that situation. You don't here. There is so much skill, so many guys who know how to win."
All good things must come to an end and the good vibrations from a week ago were halted with a thud two nights ago, when the Habs let a point, maybe two, slip away with a 3-2 loss at home to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Vanek tied the game midway through the third period, but after that important goal the Blue Jackets outplayed Montreal and skated away with a huge win on Ryan Johansen's late-game winner.
There was no comeback this time. The Canadiens know they're not out of the woods yet. They're just three points up on the Maple Leafs. Each team has 11 games remaining in the regular season and it's just another significant Saturday night for both clubs.
"We all know how important each game is from here on in and how hard it's going to make the playoffs," Bouillon said. "We know we have to play 60 minutes to win. But that game we didn't [against Ottawa] and we still won. We built off it to win a couple more.
"But now we have to get back to our identity. We need to play well from the first shift to the last."
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