Now THAT was worthy of a standing ovation. When the fans blow the roof off the Bell Centre in about 15 minutes as the Canadiens take the ice for Game 3 of their first round playoff series with Washington, the tribute will be well-earned.

Nevermind that they let a three-goal lead slip away Saturday in Washington. By coming out of the first two games with a split, the Canadiens did what they had to do: take home ice advantage away from the Capitals in what is now a best-of-FIVE series.

Sure, winning both games in Washington would have been a bonus, but there's a good deal of comfort and confidence in knowing that Game 2 should have gone the Canadiens way and in the end still could have gone EITHER way. And while Jaroslav Halak was arguably soft Saturday, he's the main reason the Canadiens made the playoffs in the first place. Even the best soldier eventually cracks under a constant bombardment, and it behooves his teammates to trim Halak's workload to something less than the average 42 shots he faced in the first two games.

Sadly for fans of intrigue, the most compelling subplot of the series might have been lost when a suspect Jose Theodore got the hook from the Capitals net Saturday. It's become a Washington tradition for Theodore to falter in the post-season and give way to Semyon Varlamov -- a circumstance that threatens to pre-empt the provocative scenario of prodigal son Theodore being subjected to the collective derision of a once-adoring but now-hostile mob at the Bell Centre.