GAME: Montreal Canadiens (22-19-6) at Ottawa Senators (33-10-4).
TIME: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
The Ottawa Senators may have dominated the Northeast Division thus far, but the Montreal Canadiens have not been intimidated.
The two division rivals meet for the sixth time, with Montreal trying to even the season series.
The Senators, who lead the Northeast Division with 70 points, are 15-3-2 against their division rivals, including a 6-0 mark against the Toronto Maple Leafs and 3-0 record against the second-place Buffalo Sabres.
The Canadiens were in danger of being lumped into that group after losing the first two games by a combined 12-5 score, but they have bounced back with two wins - one via shootout and one in regulation - against the Senators. Montreal scored three power-play goals in its two victories over Ottawa.
Montreal got its first win on its grueling six-game road trip Wednesday with a 5-3 victory at Philadelphia. Jan Bulis, originally slated to be a healthy scratch after the morning shootaround, had four goals for the Canadiens, who were outscored 16-7 in losses at Calgary, Vancouver and Carolina.
"I had a meeting with (coach) Bob (Gainey) and he told me I wasn't playing," Bulis said. "Then I came back in the afternoon and he told me I was going to suit up. Luckily, it went well for me."
The six opponents on the Canadiens' road trip have a combined 106-30-13 home record. The trip winds up Saturday at Toronto.
Ottawa is in the third game of a four-game homestand against Northeast Division rivals, and picked up four critical points by defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs twice in three days. After a 7-0 rout Saturday, the Senators edged the Leafs 4-3 on Monday.
Daniel Alfredsson had a goal and an assist for the Senators, who nearly squandered a three-goal lead in the final nine minutes. Ottawa has gained points from its last five games (4-0-1) overall and is 12-2-1 in its last 15 home games.
It was the third time Alfredsson reached 30 goals in a season, and the Swedish right wing appears on his way to easily bettering his career high of 37, established in the 2001-02 season.
"Maybe it's not as big a benchmark as it used to be a few years ago but it's nice and I think there's more to come," said Alfredsson, who will represent Sweden in the Turin Olympics.
STANDINGS: Canadiens - 50 points, 4th place, 20 PB, Northeast Division. Senators - 70 points, 1st place, Northeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Canadiens - Michael Ryder, 20 goals; Saku Koivu and Andrei Markov, 23 assists; Koivu, 35 points; Steve Begin, 93 PIM. Senators - Dany Heatley, 31 goals; Jason Spezza, 38 assists; Alfredsson, 67 points; Chris Neil, 107 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Canadiens - Power play: 19.0 percent (52 for 274), 9th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81 percent (239 for 295), 19th. Senators - Power play: 21.0 percent (62 for 296), 3rd. Penalty killing: 84.8 percent (257 for 303), 6th.
GOALTENDERS: Canadiens - Jose Theodore (16-14-5, 0 SO, 3.37 GAA); Cristobal Huet (2-3-1, 0, 2.85). Senators - Dominik Hasek (25-7-3, 4, 2.03); Ray Emery (8-3-1, 1, 3.07).
SEASON SERIES: Senators, 3-1-1.
LAST MEETING: Jan. 7; Canadiens, 4-1. At Montreal, Koivu, Francis Bouillon, Radek Bonk and Mathieu Dandenault all scored first-period goals for the Canadiens, chasing Emery after 15:33. Steve Martins scored the lone goal for Ottawa.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canadiens - 8-13-4 on the road; Senators - 19-4-1 at home.