MONTREAL (AP) -Christopher Higgins made the Ottawa Senators' power-play woes even worse.
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 Tuesday night.
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 three games.
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 remaining.
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 that's good."
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."
Notes: 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.
|SHG - Chris Higgins (7) Backhand shot - ASST: Andrei Markov (9)|
1 - 0 MTL
|Alex Kovalev (4) Snap shot - ASST: Sergei Samsonov (3), Alexander Perezhogin (4)|
2 - 0 MTL
|Jason Spezza (5) Wrist shot - ASST: Dany Heatley (7), Christoph Schubert (1)|
2 - 1 MTL
|EN - Andrei Markov (2) Wrist shot - ASST: NONE|
3 - 1 MTL
|Steve Begin (1) Snap shot - ASST: Mike Johnson (4), Radek Bonk (3)|
4 - 1 MTL
|Tom Preissing (2) Wrist shot - ASST: Chris Neil (3)|
4 - 2 MTL
|Chris Phillips Cross checking against Tomas Plekanec|
|Daniel Alfredsson Hooking against Alexander Perezhogin|
|Radek Bonk Hooking against Dany Heatley|
|Chris Neil Holding against Tomas Plekanec|
|Alexander Perezhogin Hooking against Peter Schaefer|
|Andrei Markov Hooking against Daniel Alfredsson|
|Alexander Perezhogin Hooking against Antoine Vermette|
|Andrej Meszaros Hooking against Chris Higgins|
|Janne Niinimaa Hooking against Denis Hamel|
|Andrei Markov Tripping against Patrick Eaves|
|Mike Komisarek Interference against Mike Fisher|
|Peter Schaefer Hi-sticking against Mark Streit|