Ottawa tries to avoid its longest losing streak of the season as it faces a Canadiens team that has won six of seven to tie the Senators in the Eastern Conference.
Ottawa’s franchise-record 11-game winning streak from Jan. 14-Feb. 4 is a distant memory as the Senators (37-30-5) have gone 1-7-1 since the Olympic break. They matched a season high with their fifth straight loss Saturday, 5-4 at Dallas despite Jason Spezza’s(notes) third career hat trick.
“Right now I’m pretty frustrated,” Spezza said. “This time of year it’s all about wins. I’d be happier with nothing (no goals) and winning the game and moving up in the standings instead of losing a game like we did tonight.”
The defeat, coupled with Montreal picking up a point in a 3-2 shootout loss at Toronto on Saturday, leaves the Senators tied with the Canadiens (36-29-7) for second place in the Northeast Division. Ottawa and Montreal are just a handful of points ahead of ninth-place Atlanta in the tightly bunched conference.
Making his first start in a week, Leclaire allowed five goals on 19 shots Saturday before being replaced by Elliott, who turned away six shots in the final 14:03.
“You can’t give up five goals on the first 18 or 19 shots,” said Clouston, whose team will try to avoid its first six-game skid since Nov. 7-20, 2008. “You’re going to give up chances. But it’s very tough to get the momentum back.”
Leclaire went 0-6-1 with a 4.92 goals-against average in his last eight starts, but has gone 2-0-0 with a 1.50 GAA in two starts against Montreal this season.
Elliott went 0-3-0 with a 3.45 GAA in his last four appearances.
The Senators have won four of five against the Canadiens this season and three straight in Montreal dating to last season. Ottawa, though, has been outscored 18-8 while dropping four straight on the road.
The Canadiens can continue their run at their first division title since 2007-08 with a solid effort Monday and another at Northeast-leading Buffalo on Wednesday. Montreal, though, did not play at a high level against the Maple Leafs.
If Jaroslav Halak(notes) makes his eighth straight start, it will be his first appearance at home against the Senators this season. He went 1-1-1 with a 2.39 GAA in three starts in Ottawa, while Carey Price(notes) went 0-2-0 with a 3.03 GAA in the two matchups in Montreal.