OTTAWA - With a handful of regulars not in the lineup and a season-low number of players on the bench, the Canadiens were shut out 4-0 by the league-leading Senators at the Corel Centre on Tuesday night.
After getting off to a league-best 6-0-1 start on the road, the Canadiens have now dropped their fifth straight away from the Bell Centre, falling to 14-7-4 overall. Despite their recent slide, the Canadiens' 32 points through November marks their highest total since amassing 33 points in 1997-98. The NHL-leading Senators improved to 19-3-3, extending their winning streak to six games.
With Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Martin Havlat and Mike Fisher scoring goals for Ottawa, the Senators clamped down, never allowing the Canadiens to get anything going.
Claude Julien's troops were held off the scoresheet for the first time this season and for the first time in 26 games overall, dating back to 2003-04 when Montreal was shut out 2-0 at the Bell Centre by Sean Burke and the Flyers on April 4. The Canadiens were last blanked on the road by Martin Brodeur and the Devils back on Jan. 23, 2004.
Ray Emery, who has apparently become the Senators' designated goalie when facing the Canadiens, kicked aside all 27 shots that came his way for his third win over Montreal in as many starts this season, as he improved to a perfect 6-0 mark on the year. Jose Theodore stopped 22-of-26 Ottawa shots.
Montreal went 0-for-5 on the power-play, while the Senators struck twice, going 2-for-6 on the night.
With Sheldon Souray still injured, Andrei Markov suspended, and Mike Komisarek tending to his ailing mother, the Canadiens dressed only five defensemen. Craig Rivet carried most of the load by logging a game-high 29:03, with Mark Streit playing a season-high 21:54.
Having already scored 104 goals this season, the Senators are on pace to be the only team in NHL history besides the Oilers to surpass the 400-goal mark. Edmonton did it five times, including a league record 446 goals over an 80-game schedule in 1983-84. Ottawa's franchise record is 274 set in 2000-01, while the 1976-77 Canadiens own the team record of 387.
The Canadiens will now head back home to welcome the Sabres to the Bell Centre on Thursday, before hosting the Kings on Saturday.
NOTES: Tuesday night's game was C Steve Begin's 200th NHL appearance...D Sheldon Souray (groin) missed his fourth straight game... D Mike Komisarek (personal) was not in the lineup... D Andrei Markov served the first game of his three-game suspension for allegedly shoving a linesman in Toronto on Saturday... D Jean-Philippe Cote, who was called up on Tuesday afternoon, logged 13:23 in his first NHL game and registered a pair of hits... G Cristobal Huet found himself back at the end of the Canadiens bench after being called up from Hamilton following his two-week conditioning stint. He also backed up Theodore on Nov. 10, in Pittsburgh and Nov. 12 against the Maple Leafs... C Steve Begin played in his 200th NHL game... Alex Kovalev (knee) missed his eighth game. The Canadiens are 2-4-1 since Kovalev last played on Nov.12... Havlat left the game with an apparent shoulder injury following a big hit from Michael Ryder early in the third period... With an assist on Alfredsson's goal, Dany Heatley extended his point streak to 22 games, as he has now collected at least one point in every game this season.
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com