LOS ANGELES - After a controversial loss, after a cross-country flight, after Sunday's day off, the Mets will play their first postseason home game since 2006 on Monday night in what already was expected to be a super-charged Citi Field.

And after what happened in the seventh inning of Saturday night's 5-2 loss to the Dodgers in NLDS Game 2 -- Ruben Tejada's broken leg, courtesy of Chase Utley's takeout slide -- Mets fans at Citi Field undoubtedly will be as angry as they are excited.

Into that cauldron to throw the first pitch of the game will be Matt Harvey -- the same Matt Harvey who probably has been waiting for this kind of moment his whole life.

Harvey, who will face lefthander Brett Anderson, has wanted to be The Man ever since he first envisioned himself as a future Hall of Famer while in high school in Connecticut.

Now, with the NLDS against the Dodgers tied at a game apiece and the Mets incensed by Utley's hard, and quite possibly dirty, slide into Tejada, Harvey will start the biggest game of his young and already eventful big-league career.

Remember, Harvey is starting only one game in the series because of the ongoing innings-limits situation in his first year back from Tommy John surgery. Manager Terry Collins said he was starting Harvey in Game 3 because it's the "pivotal game" in a five-game series.

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"It'll be a pivotal Game 3," David Wright said. "It's going to be a fun series."

It's more than pivotal; it's payback time for the Mets -- although Wright gave an interesting answer when asked if the veterans on the team will expect Harvey to seek retribution or hold off because of the importance of the game.

"I don't know," Wright said. "We haven't thought about it. We haven't talked about it."

Harvey will address the media on Sunday at Citi Field.

"I think we have the right guy on the mound for us on Monday," Collins said. "We set this up a long time ago coming into this series. We had Matt in Game 3 because I thought it was going to be a pivotal game, which it is now going to be. So I think we have the right guy going. I think he's handled it great. I know he's fired up about it."

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Many of the Mets were fired up about Utley's slide, but most held their tongues. But it won't be soon forgotten.

"You can't forget about it," Wright said. "You've got one of your teammates who has a broken leg. So I think that you try to go out there, you try to rally around that, you go out there and try to get a win or two for Ruben."

Said Collins: "You've got to take the emotion and keep your focus. You can't lose control. So we'll show up. I think that our guys will certainly be very, very anxious to get back on the field on Monday."