Higgins scored his third short-handed goal of the season and
Alex Kovalev combined with his new Russian linemates for Montreal's
second goal, leading the Canadiens to a 4-2 win over Ottawa on
Higgins opened the scoring -- during one of the Senators' seven
failed power-play opportunities -- 5:30 into the second with his
team-high seventh goal on a sensational effort.
"I guess it's just intensity and anticipation," said Higgins,
who leads the NHL in short-handed goals. "Some guys have it and
some guys don't, and that's why some guys are penalty killers. I
try to use my speed to get on them and let them make plays and try
to force turnovers as much as possible."
David Aebischer made 31 saves for Montreal, 2-0-1 in its last
Aebischer, who stopped 47 shots in Saturday's 5-4 overtime loss
to Toronto, lost a bid for his first Montreal shutout on Jason
Spezza's goal 6:19 into the third.
"Short-handed goals are obviously going to hurt you, especially
when the power play's not working," Spezza said.
Ottawa has scored on only 9.4 percent of its chances, taking
advantage six times in 64 chances this season.
"It's discouraging, especially when you're not scoring on the
power play," Senators defenseman Joe Corvo said of the
short-handed goal. "It just makes it seem like it's going to be
doubly hard to catch up because things aren't clicking right now on
the power play."
Andrei Markov scored into an empty net at 18:44 of the third,
and Steve Begin added his first of the season 19 seconds later,
beating Ray Emery on a pass from Mike Johnson with 56.9 seconds
Emery stopped 25 shots for Ottawa, which has lost two straight
after a three-game winning streak.
Senators right wing Chris Neil had to be helped off the ice
after he was injured while falling behind the net as he set up Tom
Preissing's goal with 8.4 seconds remaining. He said after the game
that he felt fine.
The Senators, who set a franchise record with an NHL-leading 312
goals last season, have been held to two goals in the two losses
after outscoring opponents 21-5 during their winning streak.
"We had some strong games against Toronto, we blew them out a
few times, and New Jersey, but in those games we did things that
smart hockey teams do -- get the puck deep, make their defensemen
turn, get on top of them -- and it created a lot of offensive
chances for us," Senators center Dean McAmmond said. "That's not
what we did tonight, and we struggled."
With Alexander Perezhogin in the penalty box, Higgins drove in
on Emery and beat him for his second short-handed goal against
Ottawa in two games.
"Bringing it in on the backhand, I protected the puck pretty
well," Higgins said. "I was bringing it hard to the net and you
never know what's going to happen. It slipped in five-hole, so
Normally a right wing, Kovalev moved to center between
countrymen Sergei Samsonov and Perezhogin in the third period of
Saturday's game, assisting on two late goals to draw Montreal even.
Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau kept the unit intact against
Ottawa, and the move paid dividends late in the second. Kovalev
redirected a centering feed from Samsonov past Emery for his fourth
goal at 18:32 to make it 2-0.
"That's a line with a lot of speed and a lot of talent,"
Aebischer said. "I thought they played well and we know those
three can play."
Senators LW Peter Schaefer returned after missing four
games because of a hip flexor injury. ... Higgins led the Canadiens
with three short-handed goals last season and has six in his
career. He has as many short-handed goals this season as Carolina
and more than every team in the league other than Pittsburgh, which
is tied with Montreal with an NHL-best four. ... Aebischer's last
shutout was March 2 against Columbus. He was playing with Colorado
then and was traded to Montreal six days later for Jose Theodore.
... Canadiens D Mike Komisarek injured his right shoulder in the
third period. He will be re-evaluated Wednesday. ... Montreal went
0-for-5 on the power play. ... Wade Redden was out of Ottawa's
lineup because of a nagging groin injury.