Series (Game 3 of 6)

Ottawa leads 5-1

Game 1: Saturday, October 17th
Game 2: Tuesday, December 8th
Game 3: Monday, December 28th
Game 4: Saturday, January 16th
Game 5: Saturday, January 30th
Game 6: Monday, March 22nd

Canadiens 2

(19-19-3, 41 pts)

Senators 4

(20-15-4, 44 pts)

Coverage: RDS

7:30 PM ET, December 28, 2009

Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

1 2 3 T
MTL 2 0 02
OTT 1 1 24

P. Leclaire (Senators - G): Saves: 29, Save Pct.: .935

P. Regin (Senators - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

A. Markov (Canadiens - D): Goals: 0, Assists: 1

Canadiens-Senators Preview


The Ottawa Senators are still getting used to life without any of the three forwards who had led their offense for several seasons.

Now, they'll likely have to find a way to score on perhaps the NHL's hottest goalie.

Thanks to the stellar goaltending of Jaroslav Halak, the Montreal Canadiens will be seeking their season-high fifth straight victory Monday night at Ottawa as they continue a seven-game road trip.

Dany Heatley, Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza had been Ottawa's three leading scorers each season since the 2004-05 NHL lockout. The Senators traded Heatley to San Jose in the offseason, Spezza injured his right knee earlier this month and could miss eight weeks, and Ottawa played without Alfredsson for the first time Saturday after he began what is likely to be a month-long recovery from a separated shoulder.

Ottawa (19-15-4) still won 3-2 in a shootout at Buffalo, avoiding a third straight defeat thanks to goals from unlikely sources. After Chris Neil's fifth goal of the season, Ryan Shannon scored his first. Former Canadiens forward Alex Kovalev and Mike Fisher found the back of the net in the tiebreaker.

"It was a different day today," said goalie Pascal Leclaire, who was playing his second game since missing a month due to a fractured cheekbone. "With our key guys missing, we obviously have to step up a little bit. Everybody goes through it, but it's up to the guys that are playing to raise our game a little bit."

Halak has certainly played at a higher level lately, taking Montreal's starting job from Carey Price thanks to some stellar play on this trip. He has faced an average of 46.5 shots in four consecutive victories, stopping 180 of 186 for a 1.48 goals-against average.

Halak made 47 saves to propel the Canadiens to a 3-2 overtime win over Toronto on Saturday night.

"I think he's probably at his best so far this year," Montreal coach Jacques Martin said. "He seems to be in a zone and has made a lot of excellent saves."

The Canadiens are on the cusp of their first five-game winning streak since Oct. 11-20, 2008. They haven't won five straight road games since a run that spanned New Year's Day 1998.

They'll help their cause if they can take some of the pressure off Halak. Montreal is allowing 32.6 shots on goal per game this season, third-most in the league. The Canadiens were outshot 33-13 in the final two periods of regulation Saturday.

"I think we stopped skating," center Tomas Plekanec said. "We didn't skate at all, we were just watching. We've got to be better. It's great we got two points, we found a way to win in the overtime, but we can't be satisfied with how we played in the second and third period."

The Canadiens used a similar formula to win 4-1 in Ottawa on Dec. 8. The Senators outshot Montreal 46-27 in that game but Halak made 45 saves.

"He was the reason we won the game ... for sure," Montreal left wing Mike Cammalleri said after that victory, which was just one of two losses for the Senators in their last 10 home games.

Ottawa is 13-5-3 at Scotiabank Place.