The city is still buzzing after the Habs’ dramatic overtime victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs in game 6 of their first-round playoff series.
Many Montrealers woke up with their heads in the clouds on Sunday, after a win that sparked perhaps the biggest burst of collective joy to hit the city in nearly 450 days.
“I felt exhilarated!” said Natalia Bielecki, a mother of three enjoying the Mount Royal lookout with her family.
“It was very exciting on the street, we were dancing,” said Dana Fischman, who had celebrated the victory with her friends in the Old Port on Saturday.
The party started even before the opening faceoff when the limited, socially distanced Bell Centre crowd of 2,500 saw their beloved Canadiens step onto the ice for warmups for the first time since mid-March 2020. Fans erupted with bliss.
“It felt like there was a full building in there, how loud it was,” Habs forward Jake Evans said Sunday. “I think it really gave us that extra jump, especially starting with the national anthem, warm-ups and everything. It was really cool experience, and it gave me chills.”
It was a tense, rollercoaster of a game that ended with Jesperi Kotkaniemi scoring the overtime winner. Habs fans were sent into euphoria.
“That was the best moment of my life,” Habs fan Ethan Azouri told Global News outside the Bell Centre after the game ended Saturday night.
“It was once in a lifetime opportunity to see something that I’ll probably never witness again in my life,” said fan Michael Smith.
Add to the playoff win curfew being removed last Friday, terraces opening up, small outdoor gatherings being permitted, and you get one very happy city.
“People needed it, to be honest,” said Lauren Lucas as she relaxed with friends on Mount Royal. “After being stuck inside for so long, people needed something to come together on, and I think that was exactly what they got last night.”
“The COVID numbers are down. The Canadiens won, which is like amazing to them, and it brings much-needed joy to the city,” said Maureen Morganstein.
The joy was not shared by everyone. A Leaf fan who told Global News that he and his friends had paid $2,000 per ticket to attend the game said he felt like his “heart was getting ripped out” of his chest.
For Montrealers, however, after over a year of doom and gloom in which the city long held the terrible title of Canada’s COVID-19 epicenter, the Habs win seemed to accentuate a turning point in the pandemic.
“Seeing everyone being on terraces and being excited to see everyone again has brought a big amount of joy and kind of that seclusion and aloneness is kind of lifting up,” said Bielecki.
“There’s a vibe in the city,” said Fischman.
If the city is this full of joy now, one can only imagine what it’ll be like if the Habs can defy the odds and beat the Leafs in game 7 in Toronto Monday night.