It's not the best time for germs to start spreading in the Ottawa 67's locker room.
But it's happening and many of the 67's are fighting through sickness as their most important game of the season approaches.
They need a win tonight in their playoff series against the Peterborough Petes to have a realistic chance of staying alive in the OHL Eastern Conference quarter-final.
The Petes lead the best-of-seven series 2-1 and could put it into a headlock with a victory tonight at the Civic Centre.
The last thing the 67's want is to give the Petes a chance to clinch the set in Peterborough on Friday.
"This game could make or break the series," said 67's all-purpose man Robbie Lawrance, who's getting over a tough cold.
"This is it. If we win (tonight), we'll be going back to Peterborough with a lot of confidence."
Among those fighting the bug is goalie Danny Battochio, who'll start for the 67's tonight despite his illness.
"When you're out there playing, you just don't really feel it much," said Battochio. "It's only afterwards when it hits you. But it's playoff time, and you just battle through that stuff."
While the 67's try to chase those germs away, they're welcoming captain Julian Talbot back to the lineup with open arms.
Talbot has been watching from the stands during the opening three games after receiving a suspension for spearing an opponent in the final game of the regular season.
'GOING TO BE FUN'
"It's been pretty rough just watching those games, so it's going to be fun getting back in there," said Talbot.
The Ottawa captain can thank his teammates for giving him the chance to play in at least two more games before his junior hockey career comes to an end.
"We expected this to be a long series, and the boys worked hard in the first three games," said Talbot. "We could easily be ahead right now. Hopefully, me being back fires up the boys a little bit."
Ottawa coach Brian Kilrea is counting on Talbot's presence to provide his team with a jolt.
"We've had one explosion in one game. Where that came from, I don't know," said Kilrea, speaking of his team's 8-4 win in Game 2 last Saturday at Scotiabank Place.
"Consistently, we're not a high-scoring team. So I'm just hoping with Julian back, it'll pick his linemates (Chris Hulit and Brett Liscomb) up, and it'll pick the rest of the team up."
Ottawa will be without defenceman Elgin Reid, serving the second and final game of a suspension after receiving a gross misconduct on Saturday for flipping the puck into the stands after a whistle.
Forwards Pat Ouellette and Arron Alphonso missed parts of Monday's 3-1 setback in Peterborough due to injury, but Ouellette practised yesterday and will play tonight.
Alphonso didn't skate yesterday, but said he'd try to play tonight.