MONTREAL – As if the Ottawa Senators weren’t fearsome enough, the league’s most high-powered offensive duo is heating up again.
Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza had three points each and Martin Gerber made 36 saves as the first-place Ottawa Senators bounced back from their ugly shutout loss over the weekend to beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-2 on Monday.
Heatley broke a six-game goal drought and added two assists, while Spezza’s three assists were his first points in three games since returning from a groin injury that sidelined him for six contests.
“This is the first one I really felt like I was back to full throttle,” Spezza said. “We had three points each, but I think we could have had five or six each if most of our chances went in. We did a good job finding each other tonight.”
Despite the lack of goals Heatley still has 16 points in his last nine games, and he says that’s what made it easier for him not to get too bogged down by the goal drought.
“Trying not to think about it, that’s the trick,” Heatley said. “You’re going to go through stretches like that, but we were getting chances and still generating offence. It’s just that sometime the puck doesn’t go in.”
Patrick Eaves, Chris Neil and Chris Kelly also scored for the high-flying Senators (16-3-0), who lost 3-0 in Toronto on Saturday but still haven’t lost consecutive regular-season games in regulation since Dec. 19 and 21, 2006.
The Senators’ regular-season record over that span is a staggering 47-10-8.
“You just have to concentrate on trying to win every game,” Sens captain Daniel Alfredsson said. “If you hate to lose, that’s what you do.”
Guillaume Latendresse and Chris Higgins replied for the Canadiens (11-6-3), who lost their second in three games to put a damper on a night in which Hall of Fame defenceman Larry Robinson had his No. 19 retired in a pre-game ceremony.
“You have to play a perfect game to beat them,” Habs head coach Guy Carbonneau said.
Higgins snapped a six-game goal drought of his own, but was more disappointed with Montreal’s defensive effort.
“Our defensive play was pretty bad, all four of their goals were from the slot or in tight in front of the net,” Higgins said. “We can’t play run and gun with a team with skill like that. We don’t have the skill to go up and down the ice with them.”
Cristobal Huet made 25 saves for the Canadiens in losing his third straight start and his fourth in his last five games. Rookie backup Carey Price has one loss in regulation in seven starts this season.
Gerber bounced back from the loss in Toronto to run his record to 13-2-0 this season, turning aside all 16 shots the Habs fired at him in the first period.
“There were a lot of deflections in the first period, the puck was going all over the place,” Gerber said.
“They put a lot of pressure on the net.”
The Sens got on the board at 3:47 of the first on the power play when Alfredsson grabbed the puck at the side boards and blindly wheeled a pass in front to a wide open Eaves, who easily scored his fourth of the year.
Montreal seemed to get sparked by the goal, spending the next three full shifts deep in the Ottawa end, but it was the Sens who got the next goal when Neil converted a nice Spezza feed in front at 8:57.
The Canadiens got back in it momentarily in the second while Heatley was off for hooking – the first of two straight minors he took. Latendresse fought off a Christoph Schubert check to get a backhand on goal that went in off Gerber’s pad at 10:18. It was Latendresse’s fourth of the season and second in as many games.
Heatley quickly atoned for his lack of discipline, converting a nifty feed from Neil in front for his ninth of the year at 14:35 of the second to put the Senators up 3-1.
The Sens went ahead 4-1 early in the third when Heatley’s shot from the circle was kicked in front by Huet right to Kelly, who scored into an empty net at 1:16.
But Higgins got Montreal back to within two when his wrist shot from the side boards beat Gerber to the far post at 4:31 of the third.
Notes: Brian McGrattan was a healthy scratch for Ottawa, while Josh Gorges sat out for the Canadiens. . . . Montreal winger Tom Kostopoulos served his automatic one-game suspension for instigating a fight in the final five minutes of Montreal’s 7-4 win over Boston on Saturday. . . . Seven of the first eight penalties in the game were hooking minors, and nine total hooking infractions were called.