OTTAWA - It was a tough call over who caught more air Thursday night - Jason Spezza after he scored his first goal of the season or Nick Foligno after he scored his first NHL goal.
Either way, it was the Ottawa Senators who were left jumping after Spezza's first goal with just more than six minutes remaining in regulation time lifted his team to a 4-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens.
"It feels good to get the game-winner and get it out of the way," said Spezza, who stuffed the rebound of Daniel Alfredsson's shot past Montreal rookie goaltender Carey Price just 24 seconds after the struggling Canadiens had battled back to tie the game on a power-play goal from Alex Kovalev.
Spezza had recorded a point in each of the Senators' previous seven games, but had been snake-bitten around the net.
After he scored, he thrust his first in the air and hurtled himself toward the glass as the sold-out Scotiabank Place crowd of 20,019 erupted.
"I felt like I've played well, I got points in every game, but it felt good to score the goal. I'd be lying if I said it didn't. To get it right after they scored, I was desperate to get it."
Earlier, rookie Nick Foligno notched his first marker, helping stake Ottawa (7-1-0) to an eventual 3-1 lead in the second period that the Canadiens clawed back from.
"It was just a dream come true to score in the NHL and to do it in a win," said Foligno, who celebrated with the two-footed leap made famous by his father, longtime NHLer and 355-goalscorer Mike Foligno.
"I don't know how he did it so many times, I was a little sore after," the 19-year-old Foligno said. "Hopefully, they'll be many more to come."
Wade Redden had a goal and an assist and Dany Heatley, with his seventh goal in eight games, also scored for the Senators, who added to a turbulent week for the Canadiens by handing Montreal (2-2-2) its third straight defeat.
It was another heartbreaker. Montreal gave up a late goal and eventually lost 2-1 in shootout to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday - an outcome that prompted a public dispute between Kovalev and coach Guy Carbonneau leading up to Thursday's game.
With Kovalev leading the charge, the Canadiens battled the 3-1 deficit and looked to have at least earned a point before Spezza, who has now registered at least a point in every Senators game, decided things.
"Alex is playing hard," Carbonneau said of his disgruntled star. "We came back really hard when we were down," Carbonneau continued. "You can't afford to make mistakes. We had control of the puck in our zone and we gave it to probably the most dangerous guy (Alfredsson)."
Guillaume Latendresse and Michael Ryder had the other Montreal goals. Tomas Plekanec had a pair of assists.
Martin Gerber stopped 28 shots in goal for the Senators, while Price finished with 29 saves.
Alfredsson recorded three assists.
"It's a tough loss," said Ryder, whose goal was his first of the season. "For them to come right back and get that goal, it's a momentum killer."
Senators left-winger Antoine Vermette left the game in the first period with back spasms and did not return. His status was not immediately known.
Price was making just his second start of the season and it took Redden just 31 seconds to beat him on a shot from the point after Montreal's Patrice Brisebois took a penalty for holding only 17 seconds into the game.
Latendresse didn't have a point in four games this season and was a healthy scratch on Tuesday night, but he found some fortune late in the period when he threw the puck at the Senators' net from the corner and it struck Gerber and wound up behind the goaltender.
Foligno scored on a wraparound attempt four minutes into the second and Heatley made it 3-1, but Ryder scored on the power play to cut the lead to 3-2 after 40 minutes.
It stayed that way until Kovalev beat Gerber on the short side with Montreal on the power play at the 12:51 mark of the third.
But with the large number of Montreal fans in attendance beginning the "Go
Habs Go!" chant, Spezza scored the winner.
"It goes from a high to a low pretty quick," Ryder said. "With (the Senators), you can't make any mistakes or they put it in your net and that's what happened."
Notes: Heatley's second-period goal was his 400th career NHL point. a Centre Randy Robitaille made his debut for the Senators after signing as a free-agent earlier this week. a Montreal right-winger Michael Ryder appeared in his 250th NHL game. The Canadiens are home to Buffalo on Saturday. The Senators play host to Florida on Saturday, then don't play again for a week.