When Matt Cooke's skate came down on Erik Karlsson's Achilles tendon on Feb. 13, Ottawa's season was truly thrust into its underdog, ragtag phase, all replacements and duct tape.

Jason Spezza's back surgery and Jared Cowen's hip surgery were one thing; the loss of Karlsson, who could control the entire game, seemed like a death blow.

Then came Ottawa's wonderfully resilient season, a first-round series win over a decimated Montreal team, and after two losses in Pittsburgh, a penultimate last stand in Game 3 Sunday night, with one last return from injury as part of the bargain. Go down 3-0, and you're going down.

Well, the Senators held off the end of their season again. They played their best game of the series. They did everything they needed, almost. Their goaltending was finally great, their penalty killing was superb, and they never found a way to give up.

But they couldn't take a lead until 7:39 double overtime when, after killing one penalty and failing to score on a power play, Ottawa got the puck deep and wouldn't let it get back out. It ended when Andre Benoit got a shot from a sharp angle that hit Tomas Vokoun in the chest and bounced and fell, and Colin Greening slapped at it and popped it over Vokoun's shoulder for a 2-1 win. And who was standing by the side of the net but Cooke. Sometime, symbolism is heavy-handed, but it works.

In the first overtime it was a rockslide, one way then the other. Evgeni Malkin nearly ended it in the first 90 seconds by channelling Mario Lemieux, weaving all the way to the net. The Senators bounced the puck all over the Penguins zone. Malkin channelled Lemieux again. Milan Michalek had a shot dribble wide. Pascal Dupuis hit a post. The Ottawa children who were allowed to stay up to watch this game will have nightmares of Malkin, swooping from the sky to take them. But nobody scored.

The game had tilted last in the second, when Tyler Kennedy concluded a strong shift with Cooke by whipping a wrist shot past Craig Anderson with 1:07 left in the period, and when it went in Cooke was trying not to step on a diving Michalek with his skates.

The Senators took a penalty late. They had barely got a shot on net. But this team got this far for a reason, and they had something left.

Pittsburgh spent its game-ending power play running clock rather than attacking, and with 33 seconds left Daniel Alfredsson, the captain, skated the puck out and dropped it to Sergei Gonchar, who skated it into the Pittsburgh zone and dumped it to Michalek. The Penguins players all tilted to one side of the ice, but behind them, Alfredsson hadn't stopped skating. Michalek skimmed a pass in front, and Alfredsson deflected it up and in with 28.6 seconds left, and oh my goodness. Life.

This was the first time in the playoffs that the Penguins hadn't scored at least three goals. It was one hell of an opportunity. In 180 minutes in regulation in this series the score has been tied for 16:42. In overtime, the Senators stayed level longer.