OTTAWA -- It felt, somehow, like everything they had been through this season had prepared them for this, for this moment, for this hole.
The Ottawa Senators, who had spent the past months battered and bruised, felled by bad news at every turn, were skating off the ice at the end of the second period, down by two goals in a series in which they had already lost the first game at home. They could have crumbled, crushed by the sheer number of things they have had to overcome this season, by the relentlessness of the misfortune.
"Adversity builds you, or it destroys you," Senators coach Guy Boucher said. "We choose to see it as a builder."
It has built them into what they are now, a team capable of coming back from two goals, of forcing overtime, of tying their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Boston Bruins with a 4-3 overtime win in Game 2 at Canadian Tire Centre on Saturday.
The best-of-7 series, which is 1-1, shifts to TD Garden for Game 3 on Monday (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN, TVAS, NESN).
The win on Saturday came courtesy of a shot by Dion Phaneuf at 1:59 of the overtime, 12 seconds after the end of a delay-of-game penalty against Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara. The Senators had put the pressure on in overtime, including a Kyle Turris shot that clanged off the crossbar. They did all they could to ensure they didn't drop both games at home to start the series.
It had all started with the second intermission, with the disappointment of how they had played and how they had handled themselves.
"We talked all year about reloading, mentally, physically and emotionally. That's something we had trouble doing at the beginning of the year," Boucher said. "We saw our team grow throughout the year. We've developed a soul. We've also developed a capacity to overcome adversity during games and from game to game. That's something we did not have at the beginning of the year at all."
They do now.
"That's the way that we're going to have to play if we're going to beat these guys," Senators captain Erik Karlsson said. "They're not going to give up. They're a good team, even though they're battling some injuries.
"It was definitely nice that we responded the way that we did. That's the way we've got to start the game and that's the way we've got to finish the game. Hopefully heading into Boston now we've learned our lesson."
It was, in a sense, the mirror image of what had happened in Game 1 on Wednesday. In that game, the Bruins had played an abysmal second period, not getting off so much as a single shot on goal, before coming back with two third-period scores to take the lead and the win.
So, in the intermission, "There wasn't a whole lot said," Phaneuf said. "We kind of refocused, reset, re-energized, and knew we were going to have to throw everything at them. And we did. We threw everything we had at them."
That was what the Senators were able to do on Saturday, starting with a goal at 5:28 by Chris Wideman from the left point that evaded Tuukka Rask's glove. That was followed by a scintillating setup by Karlsson, who displayed all the vision and skill in his arsenal, his pass finding Derick Brassard in perfect position to take advantage of the leaning Rask.
"He makes one of those plays that only a few guys in the League are able to do," Boucher said.
The game was tied. Ottawa had life.
And if there is anything the Senators have learned this year, it's to take full advantage of that. Their building was suddenly alive, pulsating with possibilities, with the massive swing that had just happened on the ice.
There was urgency. There was desperation. And there were the Senators, trying to avoid going down two games.
"We realized that the first game we kind of gave away, and again we were about to give this one away as well," Karlsson said. "We told ourselves that if we're going to lose this game, we're not going to lose because we're doing a bad job. We're going to lose because they're doing a good job."
They stopped thinking about the end result. They started thinking shift-by-shift, play-by-play. They started giving everything they had, every single moment. And they scored, and scored again, and scored again. That last one won the game, giving the Senators exactly what they needed.
Karlsson's temper had flared earlier in the game, when the defenseman could be seen yelling at Brassard after the Senators gave up a shorthanded goal to Bruins forward Tim Schaller. That goal had given Boston back the lead 1:42 after Clarke MacArthur had tied the game for Ottawa.
The frustration was evident. The disappointment was clear.
But by the time Karlsson and Brassard combined for that game-tying goal, all was well again. Fences had been mended. Bonds had been strengthened. Adversity had, as usual, been overcome.
"We needed to realize that we needed to wake up here," Karlsson said of that moment of emotion. "We gave that one away. We just scored a huge goal on the power play and to give it right back to them, that's not acceptable. We definitely responded the way that we needed to coming out into the third, and we came away with the win."
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