Final SO

Series (Game 4 of 8)

Series tied 4-4

Game 1: Tuesday, October 11th
Game 2: Thursday, October 27th
Game 3: Tuesday, November 29th
Game 4: Tuesday, December 20th
Game 5: Saturday, January 7th
Game 6: Thursday, January 26th
Game 7: Thursday, April 6th
Game 8: Monday, April 10th

Senators 3

(23-5-3, 49 pts)

Canadiens 4

(17-9-6, 40 pts)

7:30 PM ET, December 20, 2005

Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

1 2 3 SO T
OTT 1 2 0 03
MTL 0 2 1 14

A. Kovalev (Canadiens - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 2

M. Ryder (Canadiens - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

D. Alfredsson (Senators - RW): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

Ottawa (23-5-2) at Montreal (16-9-6) 7:30 pm EST

Ottawa (23-5-2) at Montreal (16-9-6) 7:30 p.m. ET

MONTREAL ( news services) -- The Ottawa Senators can be the first team to reach the 50-point mark when they visit the slumping Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.

The Senators own the best record -- despite having played a league-low 30 games -- in the NHL thanks to the league's most explosive offense (132 goals scored) and the stingiest defense (63 allowed).

After losing three of its previous four games, Ottawa bounced back Saturday by routing Toronto, 8-2. The top line of Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza combined for eight points (three goals, five assists).

Montreal has gone just 4-6-5 since starting the season a blistering 12-3-1. After a two-game trip that concluded with a 4-3 overtime loss at Minnesota on Saturday, the Canadiens face the Senators before embarking on a five-game trip.

Captain Saku Koivu returned from a groin injury and had an assist, but he is questionable for Tuesday's game. Goaltender Jose Theodore will miss his second straight game with a bruised left knee for the injury-plagued Canadiens.

But the Habs could get a boost if Alexei Kovalev returns to the lineup. Kovalev told local reporters that he'd be disappointed if he wasn't in tonight's lineup.

"They told me the decision to come back was up to me, but that wasn't true," Kovalev told the Montreal Gazette. "I was ready to play last week, but the doctor said he wanted me to wait at least five weeks."

Kovalev was waiting for a doctor's approval to return. He's been out since Nov. 15, recovering from knee surgery, and returned to practice Kovalev just over a week ago.

"I was ready after three or four practices," Kovalev told the newspaper. "I don't think you can expect one player to turn a team around and it's going to take me a few games to get back into it. That's why I wanted to get started as soon as I was ready."

Ottawa has won all three meetings against Montreal this season, all with backup goalie Ray Emery in net. It is not certain whether Emery or top netminder Dominik Hasek will be between the pipes for the Senators.

Information from SportsTicker was used in this report.