MONTREAL (AP)—Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson were sitting on the Ottawa Senators’ bench as some of their unheralded teammates were chosen ahead of them to take the game-deciding shots.
With the high-scoring trio looking on, Antoine Vermette and Mike Fisher scored in the shootout to help Ottawa end its three-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.
“We have little contests every once in a while and Vermette’s one of the guys that always scores,” said Senators coach Bryan Murray, who also tabbed third-line center Dean McAmmond to take Ottawa’s second shot. “Dean McAmmond, I don’t know that he misses very often, and then Fish, I just really like his quick hands. He’s not a big-time goal scorer but he’s quick and on a goaltender like Huet that you’ve got to move, he can do that, and he did it.”
After Vermette opened the shootout with a backhand through Cristobal Huet’s pads, Fisher beat the Montreal goalie on Ottawa’s third attempt to seal the win.
“I studied up on Alfredsson and Spezza, so I didn’t know what to expect, but I think it was a good decision,” Huet said. “It surprised me.”
“He made a few great saves to stop a couple of good players, so it was up to me to finish it and luckily I got a goal,” Fisher said. “Overall, it was good to get a win. Ray played great throughout the game. He gave us the chance to win it.”
Montreal’s Sergei Samsonov tied it at 2 with 3:23 left in the third. Samsonov carried the puck around the right side of the Senators’ zone and beat Emery with a wrist shot through the Ottawa goalie’s legs.
“We battled back. We’ve had a couple of those games where we came from behind and ended up winning the game,” Samsonov said. “This team definitely has character.”
Emery, who stopped 27 shots in a 1-0 loss Thursday to Calgary, made 23 saves in his second straight start after backing up Martin Gerber.
Ottawa, which led the NHL with 314 goals last season, is 1-for-30 on the power play this season.
“We’re going to spend a lot of time this week on that,” Murray said. “The disappointing part is that we have many chances to shoot the puck and we pass up shots and try to do things that you really can’t do against good penalty killing teams. But you know full well that with the group of guys we have we’re going to score some day in the near future and that will make a big change in the attitude on the power play.”
Higgins scored his third goal midway through the first for Montreal, which dropped its 97th home opener after returning from a season-opening three-game road trip.
Hamel opened the scoring with his first goal of the season on an unassisted effort 7:07 in. After fanning on his initial backhand attempt from the left edge of the crease, Hamel stayed with the play and beat Huet with a backhand that slid just inside the left post.
Higgins tied it at 11:24 with his second short-handed goal in as many games. Saku Koivu intercepted the puck in the neutral zone and Higgins picked it up on the fly, breaking in on Emery and beating the Senators goalie with a wrist shot past his glove.
The Canadiens’ pre-game introduction featured a “24” theme, complete with a video cameo by Jack Bauer. Kiefer Sutherland, the Canadian actor who portrays the TV show’s hero, capped a split-screen montage of players making their way to the game with a recorded greeting on the video scoreboard.