Chris Higgins scored the go-ahead goal and David Aebischer made 44 saves to help the Canadiens match their longest winning streak in more than 13 years with a 5-3 victory over Ottawa on Thursday night.
Mike Ribeiro had three points, including his 15th goal, and Alex Kovalev had three assists. Mathieu Dandenault, Saku Koivu and Jan Bulis also scored for Montreal, which extended its winning streak to eight games and tied New Jersey for sixth in the Eastern Conference with 89 points.
Ottawa, which lost 5-4 in overtime the night before in Buffalo, has been playing without five significant regulars—goalie Dominik Hasek, top three defensemen Zdeno Chara, Wade Redden and Chris Phillips, and forward Martin Havlat.
“We’ve got to take that game with a grain of salt,” Higgins said. “They were missing four defensemen and obviously they have a better team than what they put out there tonight. We’re happy with the win but it’s not their best game.”
The Canadiens, who play four of their last six games at home, have their longest win streak since an eight-game run from Oct. 24 to Nov. 11, 1992.
“You can’t get overly excited,” Dandenault said. “It’s nice but at the same time we can’t be happy with the way we played. Obviously they’re a beat-up team and they played last night and still put out 47 shots. We’ve got to limit those chances because against a healthy team, we’re going to get killed if we play that way.”
Ottawa’s Dany Heatley scored twice, setting new team records with 47 goals and 95 points.
“It’s nice but I would have liked to do it in a different game,” Heatley said.
Andrej Meszaros also scored for the Eastern Conference-leading Senators, who remain two points ahead of Carolina. Both teams also have six games remaining.
“We’ve got to play smarter, there’s no question,” captain Daniel Alfredsson said. “We tried to keep it simple in our own end and when we didn’t, it cost us right away.
Higgins scored for the eighth time in eight games, on a power play at 12:42 of the second period when he put a rebound past Ray Emery for his 21st of the season.
“I’ve been spending a lot of time in front of the net on the power play and I’m just getting loose pucks before anyone else and making the most of my opportunities,” Higgins said.
The 22-year-old native of Smithtown, N.Y., put Montreal ahead for good in a 5-3 win over Boston on Tuesday. He has 14 goals and five assists in 20 games since the Olympic break.
Aebischer, who allowed five goals in each of his three previous starts with the Canadiens, made his first appearance since March 26. Acquired from Colorado in the March 8 trade that sent Jose Theodore to the Avalanche, Aebischer won his second in a row to even his record with the Canadiens despite allowing 18 goals in four games.
“When you come in and you don’t play the way you should it’s frustrating, especially after a trade,” Aebischer said.
The Senators outshot Montreal 47-32 overall and 21-6 in the first period.
Dandenault opened the scoring with his fifth goal 1:46 in before Meszaros tied it at 6:37.
Heatley’s first goal put the Senators up 2-1 on a power play 5:51 into the second, and moved him ahead of Marian Hossa’s team-record 45 goals in 2001-02. Heatley was traded for Hossa in the offseason.
Montreal came right back just 11 seconds later to tie it at 2 when Emery stopped Kovalev’s shot but Ribeiro put a backhand into the open right side.
Heatley’s second goal of the game, 12:35 into the third, moved him ahead of Alexei Yashin, who had a team-record 94 points with Ottawa in 1998-99.
Heatley’s previous season highs were 41 goals and 89 points with Atlanta in 2002-03. … Canadiens C Steve Begin blocked two shots after losing his stick while killing a penalty in the first. Begin stopped the second shot with his midsection and tried unsuccessfully to swipe the puck out of the Canadiens zone with his hand. … The crowd of 19,929 was Ottawa’s 31st sellout in 38 home games.