MONTREAL (AP)—The Montreal Canadiens celebrated their latest win as if they were already in the playoffs.
The Bell Centre sellout crowd of 21,273 erupted in cheers as the Canadiens, who moved one point ahead of the New York Islanders for seventh in the Eastern Conference, began a wild celebration of the go-ahead goal.
Michael Ryder scored his second power-play goal of the game earlier in the period to tie it at 2. Montreal forechecked to keep the puck in the Senators’ zone late in the period. Begin tipped a slow-moving puck past goalie Patrick Lalime for the go-ahead goal after Bouillon’s point shot struck and broke Senators defenseman Karel Rachunek’s stick.
“It was really an important goal and a big win for the team,” Bouillon said. “We played well (Monday) in New York, and then this was maybe one of our best games. We have to keep playing like that until the end of the season.”
Joe Juneau added an empty-net goal.
Jose Theodore’s 17-save performance helped the Canadiens win for the third time in four games since a season-high four-game losing streak.
“It was just a big win, especially against Ottawa,” Ryder said. “They’re at the top of the standings and we’re battling it out at the bottom. I think beating the top team is very emotional, and we had the emotion tonight. You could see it on that goal. Everyone just got excited.”
“They always work hard against us, we expected that before the game started,” Senators defenseman Chris Phillips said. “They forechecked hard and they didn’t let up the entire game. They stuck with it and special teams were a big part tonight. We came up on the short end and usually when you do that, you don’t win the games.”
Playing his third game since returning from his second long injury stint of the season, Fisher beat Theodore with 19.6 seconds remaining in the second period.
Havlat hit a goalpost and Senators newcomer Peter Bondra hit the crossbar as Ottawa came close to expanding its lead early in the third period.
Ryder scored in the first period and tied the game for the second time with his second goal of the game—his 18th of the season—5:43 into the third.
Trailing 2-1 after Fisher’s goal, Ryder put a shot through Rachunek’s legs and past Lalime for his third two-goal game of the season.
Havlat, who scored his fourth career hat trick Sunday, got his 25th of the season 6:51 in.
With Canadiens captain Saku Koivu off for holding, Havlat took Marian Hossa’s pass in the right corner and banked a pass intended for Bryan Smolinski off defenseman Stephane Quintal’s skate past a startled Theodore.
Ryder tied it just 50 seconds later when he put away Richard Zednik’s rebound from the left edge of the crease.
Fisher played his fifth game of the season. His only other point was an assist in a 3-3 tie in Pittsburgh on Dec. 26. … The Senators recalled G Ray Emery from Binghamton of the AHL earlier in the day. Emery backed up Lalime with Martin Prusek listed as day-to-day with a strained left knee. … Havlat has eight goals and seven assists in his last eight games. … Ryder leads allNHL rookies with 29 assists and 47 points.