On a night when Martin Brodeur was at his best, it still wasn't good enough to beat the Senators.
When he had to, Ray Emery made the big saves to give the Senators a 2-1 series lead over the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference semi-final. But it was Brodeur, who was front and centre ... and in the middle of a controversial game-winning goal.
The Devils cried foul on Tom Preissing's game-winner, at 4:36 of the third period, in Ottawa's 2-0 victory. Jason Spezza sealed the deal with an empty-net goal.
Devils coach Lou Lamoriello was steamed after Preissing's goal, which eluded the Devils goalie on the glove side. Senators centre Mike Fisher knocked Brodeur off balance just before the shot found the net.
"That was interference on the goaltender," said Lamoriello. "There was no call. Those are judgment calls. I don't think it matters whether it was intentional or not, he made contact with the goalie."
"I don't think (it was intentional)," said Brodeur. "I know (Fisher) pretty good. He's not that type of player, even though he hits everything that moves."
Fisher pleaded innocence.
"I was trying to get in front of Brodeur and it looked like he didn't see it," said Fisher. "I didn't even know at the time. I was just trying to create traffic in front. I didn't see that I touched him until I saw the replay."
With the way this game was played, it was obvious that Preissing's goal was going to be about it all it would take. The Devils spent a lot of time trying to force the Senators to make a mistake and suddenly had to open up their game.
"Traditionally you wouldn't look at the Senators as a 1-0 or 2-0 playoff team, but I thought we held our own," said Preissing. "It was a very odd shot. At some point, something is going to have to go in, so it might as well be that."
Coming off 3-2 double-overtime loss to the Devils in Game 2 last Saturday at Continental Airlines Arena, the Senators can suddenly push New Jersey to the brink of elimination with a Game 4 victory tomorrow at home.
Given the memories of the playoff loss in the 2003 Eastern final, this was the kind of game that makes fans nervous.
The Senators had plenty of chances, but time and time again, they were stymied by Brodeur. He used his new pads, glove and blocker and got his toe on a shot by defenceman Andrej Meszaros in the second.
Early in the second, a turnover by Devils defenceman Brian Rafalski sent Mike Comrie in alone, but Brodeur came diving out of the net to jump on the loose puck.
Midway through the second, this game changed and, suddenly, Emery was forced to come up with big stops of his own because the Devils started moving the puck better. He made a big stop late in the period on Patrik Elias, who was trying to stuff it home.
"It's good to get the win," said Emery, who got his second career playoff shutout. "We had our share of chances and we played well. Definitely, it's exciting to get the win (against Brodeur). You grow up watching him on television and to get the chance to play him in a playoff game. That's definitely special."
"(Emery) looked a lot more comfortable," said Senators coach Bryan Murray.
Referee Kelly Sutherland may have given Brodeur a break at 4:36 of the first. After losing sight of the puck, Sutherland whistled down the play while Jason Spezza was pushing it home on the glove side.
While the Senators had the majority of the chances in the first, the Devils got exactly what they wanted when it ended scoreless.