OTTAWA - Whether it was shock or disappointment, the Montreal Canadiens had few words to explain a critical loss Tuesday.
The Habs fell 3-2 in overtime to Ottawa and trail the Senators 3-1 in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final series.
Montreal is also facing the loss of goaltender Carey Price, who left the game after the third period with a lower-body injury. Peter Budaj came in relief for OT and gave up the winner on his second shot.
Few would argue that the Canadiens deserved a better fate as they were easily the better team on this night, but that argument didn't matter much in the end.
"Are we going to say we got a game stolen from us, that doesn't do anything for us, it does us no good," said Montreal's Josh Gorges. "We're down 3-1 no matter which way we want to explain it so it doesn't matter. Our backs are now up against the wall and we don't have a choice but to come out swinging."
Game 5 is Thursday in Montreal.
The Canadiens did all the right things jumping out a to a 2-0 lead and controlling much of the play, but the Senators managed to cut the lead in half on Mika Zibanejad's goal midway through the third.
The goal was reviewed to distinguish whether or not it was kicked in, but upon further review the NHL ruled that the puck deflected off Zibanejad's skate and into the net in a legal fashion.
In addition, Canadiens coach Michel Therien took exception on the faceoff that initiated the goal as he felt it was done on the wrong side.
"I would have put different players on, I wouldn't have sent out a left-handed centre on a right-sided faceoff," said Therien. "I'm anxious for them to explain it to me."
While Therien was disappointed with the final result, he had no issue with his player's performance.
"I liked how we played, we worked hard," said Therien. "We came to play hockey and the players definitely deserved a better fate."
A late icing call late in the game that eventually led to the Senators opportunity to tie the game left Gorges confused.
"I just want everything called the same way no matter which way it's called," said Gorges. "I could care less if they wave them all off or they call them all, as long as it's consistently done."
Gorges refused to make excuses for the loss and admitted they may have sat back a bit in the third leading to Ottawa's comeback.
"We tried to protect a lead instead of go out and play. This game is measured on wins and losses alone and nothing else matters."
With the prospect of elimination staring at them, Gorges said the Canadiens will have to show some desperation Thursday night.
"We have to fight for our lives. None of us want to go home, none of us are done playing. We've got a lot of pride in this room and now it's do or die so you have to have that mentality of let's throw everything we've got," he said. "There's no tomorrow anymore."
The Canadiens have played well at home this season and are hoping the home crowd will give them an advantage.
"We'll go home and feed off the crowd and feed off a lot of the good things we did," said Jeff Halpern. "It's a (tough) loss and hopefully we're more excited to play for the next game."
Brandon Prust also left the game after the third period with an upper-body injury and will be re-evaluated Wednesday.
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