The Montreal Canadiens had just tied the game up. They were dominating the run of play. Then Boston took the puck the other way, and the puck was behind Mike Condon. The Habs were behind 2-1, and the Bell Centre that had just come to life was deflated, along with the team.
There are certain times you just know. I said to myself just before the goal that the Canadiens couldn't afford to give up a goal. So of course they did.
The game continued to slip away, like almost every game since December. The game was close, but it never really felt like the Canadiens were going to mount the comeback, despite still controlling the shot attempts and scoring chances. It ended up as a 4-1 loss.
I don't know if it will turn out to have been Michel Therrien's last game as Head Coach for the Montreal Canadiens. But one thing is for sure: this team needs a jolt.
They need something. I know the psychological side of the game is often dismissed by fans. They are professionals! They get paid tons of money! They play a game! Yes, that's all true. But they are also human.
When a team is struggling, and when it has talent like the Canadiens do, you look for any sign of life. First it was the win against Tampa Bay in the shootout. Then it was Brendan Gallagher's return! The Winter Classic! Tonight's second period! Each time, there was nothing sustained.
And the farther it goes, the deeper the hole to dig out of. The more unlikely that this group with this coach will provide the answer.
Carey Price isn't walking through that door. At least not yet.
We look at possession statistics a lot. We talked at length about them the last two years when the team was winning despite poor numbers. Now that they are good, and the results haven't been there, Canadiens fans are once again split. The same people praising Therrien in the past are turning on him. The people hard on him in the past are being the voice of reason.
In truth, they both matter. Long term, having good shot attempt numbers is a sign of success. It's a sign of a good team. It is something you can point to as evidence a team is rebuilding. Look at how people look at the Toronto Maple Leafs this year compared to seasons past. However, when you are a contender, the thing that matters is results. Good statistics don't get you into the playoffs. Wins do, and that's what the Canadiens need.
Part of turning good numbers into wins is putting your players in position to succeed. That's where Therrien has fallen short. He got a lot of praise for sticking up for his players after last night's defeat, pointing to the numbers rather than the results. But where was this defence when Alex Galchenyuk was shifted to the wing after a few difficult outings? Where was this when Jarred Tinordi and Greg Pateryn were in and then out of the lineup after errors in their first NHL games? Has Therrien stuck up for any young player like he did for Andrei Markov? It's been rare, and that's a problem.
It could be why this team's problems don't show themselves in statistics. Why they are lacking a certain je ne sais quoi.
This team needs confidence right now and a lot of people are saying that Carey Price is this team's confidence. When he returns, they say, so will the team's fluidity. That's pretty ironic considering the beginning of the season, all these players wanted was to be seen as a team that doesn't rely on their star goaltender.
Realistically, the season is not over. There is still a lot of time. Just because they are out of a playoff spot today does not mean they will stay out of it. Price will be back. They have talent. It's just a matter of time. Unfortunately, time seems to be running out.
This doesn't have to be the end for the Canadiens. But something has to happen.