As part of the NHL's centennial and local celebrations of Canada's sesquicentennial, the game was a rematch of one of the first two NHL games held on December 19, 1917, played between the Canadiens and the original Ottawa Senators. The Senators shut out the Canadiens, 3–0, with Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson making 28 saves.
It marked the first outdoor game hosted by Ottawa, and the second that Ottawa has participated in; they previously faced the Vancouver Canucks in the 2014 Heritage Classic. This was Montreal's fourth time appearing in an outdoor game.
The NHL 100 Classic was announced during a press conference on March 17, 2017. As part of the league's centennial celebrations, the game honoured the 100th anniversary of the first games of the NHL's inaugural season, held on December 19, 1917. Two games were played that night: the original Ottawa Senators hosted the Montreal Canadiens, which started at 8:30 pm, and the Toronto Arenas hosted the Montreal Wanderers which started at 8:15 pm. The game was also part of Ottawa's festivities for the Canadian sesquicentennial. According to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman: "To launch our next 100 years, we believe it is only right to bring the Canadiens and the Senators back together."
Mayor of Ottawa Jim Watson remarked that he had spent a significant amount of time to convince the NHL to hold an outdoor game in Ottawa, noting that "at some point I think I could be accused of harassment — borderline harassment — for the calls that went back and forth between my office and the NHL and the Senators. But it all came together." At one point, the game was proposed to be played at a temporary venue on Parliament Hill, but the proposal was denied by the Department of Canadian Heritage due to logistical concerns. The league also explored holding the outdoor game on November 26, 2017, on the 100th anniversary of the league's founding. The league also felt that the 25,000-seat Percival Molson Memorial Stadium in Montreal was too small to host such a game.
Outside in Lansdowne Park, and inside the Aberdeen Pavilion, a "Pre-Game" area was set up. The area hosted the Stanley Cup for pictures, and various sponsor and media set up interactive exhibits and games. The games involved various puck-shooting drills, such as into a washing machine and goal net targets.