PETERBOROUGH -- Forget the 8-ball. The 67's were behind the entire rack even before the puck dropped in last night's game against the Petes.
They played without centre Julian Talbot and defenceman Elgin Reid --- two of the team's lettered veterans -- and most of the game without forwards Pat Ouellette and Arron Alphonso due to injury.
Despite the missing bodies, the 67's hung in there before losing 3-1 in the third game of an Eastern Conference quarter-final.
Ottawa trails the best-of-seven series 2-1, but will have Talbot, the team captain, back in the lineup tomorrow night at the Civic Centre.
"Peterborough didn't have to worry about our offensive game, because we didn't have one," said 67's coach Brian Kilrea.
It won't be do-or-die for Ottawa tomorrow night, but the 67's can't afford to return to Peterborough for Game 5 facing elimination.
Despite missing Talbot and Reid, the 67's gave it another valiant try last night, but came up short.
The outcome was in doubt until Petes forward Jordan Staal scored the winner during a power play early in the third. Staal, moving toward the net from the right side, took a great cross-slot feed from Liam Reddox before ripping the puck behind Danny Battochio.
Peterborough iced it with 2:25 left when Jamie Tardif scored during a two-man power play, his second goal of the game and third of the series.
"We knew that they were going to come out hard," said Tardif, the Petes captain. "It doesn't matter who's in or who's out of that lineup because Kilrea's got those guys going."
Ottawa had been outplayed for most of the contest, but got back into it late in the second period when a couple of rookies combined on a great shift.
Working at a turnover in the neutral zone, first-year forward Pat Daley chipped the puck into the Petes zone and fellow rookie Shea Kewin got to it quickly.
He fired a perfect shot from the right faceoff circle that beat goalie David Shantz high over the blocker to even the count. The 67's seemed to get a lift from the goal, but the Petes dug in and prevented Ottawa from more chances.
"We were pretty pumped going into the third period with a tie game. You can't ask for much more than that," said Ottawa winger Chris Hulit. "But when they scored that goal, it took the wind out of our tires."
Talbot returns to action tomorrow after serving a three-game suspension for a spearing match penalty in the final game of the regular-season.
Reid got a two-game suspension after the 67's assistant captain got tagged with a gross misconduct during Saturday's 8-4 Ottawa victory.
Reid got the penalty early in the third period after flipping the puck into the seats after a whistle. Ted Baker, the league's director of hockey operations, said the ban may have been worse had the penalty been issued during the regular season.
Petes lead series 2-1