Mike Fisher scored twice and the Montreal power play sputtered the Ottawa Senators earned a 5-2 win over the Canadiens on Friday. Montreal wasted a great opportunity to dig itself out of an early hole. Down 3-1, the Canadiens finished the last 64 seconds of the first period with a two-man advantage and had 56 seconds remaining on the power play at the start of the second, but were unable to score.
"We need to play our game and we didn't do that tonight," Canadiens forward Steve Begin said. "They came out really hard and we made mistakes we don't usually make."
The Canadiens hold the eighth and final playoff spot, but with the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes all within two points Montreal can't afford any lapses.
"We have no more breathing room," said Begin. "We have to take care of all the little details."
The win allowed the Senators (46-24-8) to post their fourth consecutive 100-point season.
Jason Spezza, Mike Comrie and Dany Heatley also scored for the Senators. Ray Emery, playing in his 100th career game, stopped 26 shots.
"I knew it was coming up, but I wasn't paying attention to it," said Emery. "I received a text message from my cousin before the game reminding me of it. It's exciting to have played that many games."
Sheldon Souray and Mark Streit scored for the Canadiens (40-32-6). Jaroslav Halak faced 37 shots.
Fisher opened the scoring five minutes into the first period as he beat Halak to the glove side.
Spezza made it 2-0 less than two minutes later as his wrist shot caught Halak by surprise.
The Canadiens made it 2-1 as Souray scored a power-play goal from the point, but with less than two minutes remaining in the period Comrie put Ottawa ahead 3-1.
"They came out hard and we got behind the eight-ball early," said Montreal forward Michael Ryder. "We had to play catch up most of the game."
Montreal had a four-minute power play late in the second after Dany Heatley cut Souray with a high stick. But once again the Senators were able to hold off the Canadiens.
Montreal finished the game 1-for-6 with the man advantage, while Ottawa was 0-for-2.
"Our power play has been one of our strongest points," said Ryder. "We had the opportunities tonight, but just couldn't put the puck in the net."
With Montreal owning the most effective power-play in the league, the Senators knew special teams would be crucial.
"It was a really good test for us," said Chris Kelly, one of the Senators top penalty killers. "I thought we did a good job. They came out hard and we were able to hold them off."
Streit brought the Canadiens to within a goal after scoring on a great pass from Maxim Lapierre.
Both Emery and Halak were solid in the third, giving the sellout crowd of 20,185 at Scotiabank Place plenty to cheer about.
"The crowd made it really exciting," said Fisher. "It was like a playoff atmosphere."
Fisher added some insurance late in the third with his second goal of the night. Heatley picked up his 47th of the season into the empty net to round out the scoring.
The Senators are back in action Saturday night against the Islanders while the Canadiens will look to bounce back against the Eastern Conference leading Buffalo Sabres.
Friday's game was the last between the two teams, with Ottawa winning the season series 5-3.
Notes: Ottawa LW Dean McAmmond played in his 800th career game . . . Ottawa was without RW Patrick Eaves (lower body injury, day-to-day) while D Lawrence Nycholat and RW Brian McGrattan were healthy scratches . . . The Canadiens were without G Cristobal Huet (hamstring, day-to-day) and RW Alex Perezhogin (concussion, day-to-day) while G Michael Leighton, LW Sergei Samsonov, LW Garth Murray and D Josh Gorges were all healthy scratches.