The Montreal Canadiens rallied on Monday to pull out an overtime win in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning in front of a hometown crowd at the Bell Centre.
With a 3-2 victory the Habs staved off elimination avoiding a sweep in the best of seven series.
Inside the Bell Centre arena, where public health rules only allow a maximum of 3,500 fans, the pre-game mood was electric.
The excitement went up a notch after the Habs’ Josh Anderson scored the first goal of the match in the first period.
It was nothing, however, compared to the frenzy caused by Anderson’s overtime winner.
The celebration could be heard all over downtown with hundreds of fans cheering outside the Bell Centre.
Fans were also gathered outside the Olympic Stadium and the Quartier des Spectacles for outdoor viewing parties.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, donning a Habs T-shirt, was taking in the action on a big screen at the Big O wearing a mask, in full compliance with COVID-19 health measures.
Tension continued to mount throughout the game, with Tampa scoring late in the second period tying the game 1-1.
Fans Global News spoke to outside the Bell Centre believed the Habs could pull off a win, but nonetheless expressed some anxiety.
“I’m so excited but a little nervous,” said Bianca Comisso, who came in from Toronto to catch the game in Montreal.
Luca Comisso added he wasn’t sure he had the stomach to continue watching.
“It will be hard to watch overtime,” he said.
The crowd went wild after a goal netted in the third period by Habs Alexander Romanov but Tampa quickly followed up with an equalizer sending the game into overtime.
Montreal police were out in full force to monitor the festivities, with provincial police called in ahead of the game to act as backup.
Montreal police spokesperson Emmanuel Anglade said officers had to intervene earlier in the evening when fireworks were set off near the Bell Centre, contravening a municipal bylaw.
Earlier in the day, police were advising people to put distance between themselves and any potential disturbances to allow police to target any “problematic elements.”
Post-game celebrations were quickly muted with riot police surrounding the Bell Centre within minutes of the Habs victory. Tear gas filled the air dispersing the crowd.
In spite of that, Habs fans far and near said they were treated to a great game.
“We had a fantastic day, what a great win, a great penalty kill at the end to save the game. And they won it, they did it,” said Patrick Delaney visiting from Fort McMurray.
Police made 15 arrests during a rowdy celebration after the Canadiens’ series-clinching victory against the Vegas Golden Knights in late June. Eight police vehicles were vandalized and at least one was overturned.
Anglade said it was too early to say how many tickets were handed out following Monday’s game or whether any arrests were made.
A full police report will be available on Tuesday.
Taking part in the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1993, the Habs’ historic run will continue with Game 5 in Tampa Bay on Wednesday evening.
The Lightning lead the best of seven series 3-1.
— With files from The Canadian Press and Global News’ Gloria Henriquez and Dan Spector
— With files from The Canadian Press