The Ottawa Senators are playing some of their best hockey of the season thanks to a high-powered offense. A wake-up call in their last victory, however, has them realizing it takes more than that to be successful.
Ottawa looks to match its season-high winning streak at four games when it hosts the Montreal Canadiens Saturday in the fourth meeting between the Northeast Division rivals in 2006-07.
The Senators (25-19-2) are fourth in the NHL with 3.33 goals per game and that number has jumped to 5.67 during the three-game win streak, which includes a 6-4 victory over the New York Rangers on Thursday. Ottawa led 5-0 at the beginning of the third period, but allowed four unanswered goals before holding on for the win.
The Senators allowed four goals for the first time in 10 games and were outshot for the first time in six contests.
"We talked about not letting ourselves relax," said Senators leading scorer Dany Heatley, who had a goal and two assists in the win. "I think we did. It was a little bit of human nature when we got the fifth. You can't do that in this league."
The Senators are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games, outscoring teams 39-21 during that span. Heatley has been key to that success, recording eight points in the last three games and 22 in the last 13 contests.
Daniel Alfredsson also had a goal and two assists Thursday, and has seven points during the Senators' three-game run. The veteran right wing has 21 goals and 42 assists in 52 games against the Canadiens - his most points against any opponent.
Patrick Eaves led the Senators with two goals and an assist Thursday, and has five points over his last five meetings with Montreal (25-14-5).
The Canadiens began their three-game road trip with a 4-2 victory over Philadelphia on Thursday, their second straight win after a season-high three-game skid. The third line comprised of Chris Higgins, Tomas Plekanec, and Mike Johnson combined for two goals - including Higgins' go-ahead score.
"I think we've got a lot of depth on this team," said Higgins, who also had an assist. "Now with Plekanec and Johnson, we're adding a little more offense and a little more creativity to the line."
That offense has been especially strong on the power play, converting 23.4 percent of its chances this season for the second-best mark in the NHL. The Canadiens will face a Senators' squad that hasn't allowed an extra-man goal in four consecutive games, but also hasn't scored one of its own during that stretch.
Montreal's David Aebischer made 34 saves Thursday, but Cristobal Huet will likely be back in net Saturday. Huet is 3-1-1 with a 2.32 goals-against average in five career starts against the Senators.
Ottawa's Ray Emery has split his eight career starts versus the Canadiens, but has lost four of the last five matchups, posting a 3.96 GAA during that span. Montreal has won two of three meetings between these teams this season and is 4-0-1 in the last five matchups.