OTTAWA (AP) _ The Ottawa Senators turned it around in a hurry after the
Zdeno Chara had a goal and two assists, and Patrick Lalime made 20 saves to
lead Ottawa to a 5-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.
Jason Spezza, Wade Redden, Bryan Smolinski and Shaun Van Allen also scored
to help the Senators complete a perfect homestand with their third win in a row
since the break.
``We kind of stumbled into the break _ we had a lot of sickness and now
we've got our health back and we're starting to play well, and that's what we
have to keep doing,'' Spezza said.
With 73 points, the Senators are tied for fourth overall in the Eastern
Conference with Boston, which lost 2-1 in overtime in Chicago. Both teams trail
Toronto _ 6-4 losers to Buffalo _ by one point for the Northeast Division lead.
``It was an important game for us because the standings are so tight right
now and every game matters,'' Chara said. ``We just want to climb in the
standings and have a good position going into the playoffs.''
Steve Begin scored twice for Montreal, which has lost three straight after
going into the break with three consecutive wins.
``It would have felt a lot better if we had won the game,'' Begin said of
his first career two-goal game.
Spezza set up Chara's 12th goal of the season late in the first to open the
scoring. After Begin tied it midway through the second, Ottawa came back with
three straight goals, capped by Spezza's 19th 4:45 into the third off a rebound
of Chara's shot.
Canadiens goalie Jose Theodore, who stopped 21 of 25 shots, was replaced by
backup Mathieu Garon at 6:46.
``He knows it wasn't his night, we all know it wasn't his night, but for
what Jose's done for us this year, a goaltender is allowed to have a bad game
like any other player,'' Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. ``We have to
accept this defeat as a team and not necessarily point the finger at Jose.''
Begin scored his second goal of the game when he beat Lalime on a
short-handed breakaway at 10:17 to draw Montreal to 4-2.
Chara drew his second assist when Van Allen scored into an empty net with
The Canadiens learned during the game that injured defenseman Sheldon Souray
is expected to be sidelined for six more weeks because of a sprained ligament
in his left knee.
``It's going to be a long time,'' Canadiens defenseman Stephane Quintal
said. ``So far, it seems like we miss him on the power play. He's got a big
shot, so we've got to regroup. The (defensemen) that we have now, we have to
play a little better.''
Souray injured his knee Tuesday _ two days after making his first All-Star
game appearance _ when he collided with Florida's Juraj Kolnik. An MRI on
Friday in Montreal revealed a sprained medial collateral ligament.
``It's a big loss, but at the same time we have to learn to deal with it,''
Julien said. ``We've got an opportunity to have Sheldon back in six weeks and
he'll be a welcome addition when that comes along, but we need to continue
playing hard and our defense is good enough to be able to compensate with his
After Begin's first goal of the game tied it at 1, Redden scored his 13th of
the season on a power play at 14:53 when he one-timed a pass off the left post
into the net.
Smolinski made it 3-1 when he scored his 14th 1:06 into the third, and
Spezza increased the lead to three at 4:45.