Montreal won't have to wait long for a chance to make up the ground it lost to Ottawa in the Northeast Division.
The Canadiens look to avoid matching their longest losing streak of the season Saturday when they host the Senators in the back end of a home-and-home series.
Montreal (29-21-6) has dropped its last two games, including Thursday's 4-1 defeat at Ottawa (31-22-3). The Canadiens have had two three-game losing streaks this season, both in January.
Montreal's defeat on Thursday, its fourth in five games, dropped the club one point behind second-place Ottawa in the division. The Senators, who are 13 points behind first-place Buffalo, are tied with Pittsburgh for fourth in the Eastern Conference standings.
Ottawa won for just the second time in five games. The Senators were coming off consecutive losses, including a 3-2 defeat at Buffalo the previous day.
"You look at our last five games, they've been pretty tight," said Dany Heatley, who scored against the Canadiens and leads the Senators with 32 goals and 36 assists. "Buffalo last night was a tough game, tonight was a tight game but I thought we won the special-teams battle. They had a couple of chances on some 5-on-3s, some 5-on-4s, and we had some big kills.
"Our power play might have been the best it's been all year. We only scored one goal but with the movement we had and the chances we had, it looked pretty good."
After watching Nashville's narrow win over Toronto following his team's victory, Ottawa coach Bryan Murray said tight games will become the norm as teams battle for playoff spots.
"This is the way the league is going to be so we have to buy in, we have to do it right, and we have to have everybody on board to do it," he said.
Ottawa has scored one power-play goal in each of its last four games, while Montreal, which ranks second in the league with a 21.8 power-play percentage, is 2-for-20 with the man advantage in its last five games. The Canadiens did not score in six power-play chances on Thursday.
"We had a goal and then we had a power play after that, and it's the same thing - we seem to be tense," Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said. "We're not patient with the puck. We want to score in the first 10 seconds of the power play instead of being patient and moving the puck around to take the shot, things that we were doing earlier."
Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson had an assist Thursday, giving him eight points in the season series. The Senators are 3-3 against the Canadiens this season, including a shootout win on Oct. 14 for the only victory in their last six trips to Montreal.
Senators goalie Ray Emery stopped 27 shots for his 23rd victory, matching the career high he set last season, after losing his previous three starts. Emery has not allowed more than three goals in nine consecutive starts.
Montreal's Cristobal Huet made 35 saves but dropped his third straight start. He has allowed 12 goals during that losing streak.
"Our goaltenders do have to get better," Carbonneau said. "This is seven games in a row that we've given up the first goal, and all of them, I think, have been in the first four or five minutes."