Ottawa Senators\' Jason Spezza celebrates his third goal as Montreal Canadiens\' Carey Price, right, looks on in Ottawa on Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
OTTAWA - With their top line finally intact, the Ottawa Senators were way too much for the Montreal Canadiens to handle.
Jason Spezza led the way with three goals and three assists and his line - which also includes Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley - collected 15 points as the Senators defeated the Canadiens 6-1 on Saturday night.
Alfredsson had two goals and three assists in his return to the lineup after missing four games with a hip injury, while Heatley picked up a goal and three assists. It was the first time the line had played altogether in 13 games.
"It's an easier game to play with the lead and we haven't done that in a long time with those guys out of the lineup," Senators coach John Paddock said.
The big line scored early and often, taking all the intrigue out of a game that was supposed to be a battle between the top two teams in the Eastern Conference.
Heatley now has seven points in two games since returning from a shoulder injury that kept him out of the lineup for 11 games.
The Senators (34-18-4) now have a five-point lead over the Canadiens (29-18-9), who have lost two straight. The Senators have won two straight.
The six points represented a career high for Spezza, who also picked up his first career NHL hat trick.
"(I) had a few two goal games but I haven't been able to get the third one," he said. "I thought I had one earlier in the year so it was nice to get it out of the way. It's always fun to get a hat trick."
Spezza now has 71 points on the year, while Alfredsson has 73.
"The puck was following me tonight and when you get a couple of early ones you always feel a little better about your game," Spezza said. "Getting the lead is important against this team because they trap it up pretty good, so the early ones force them to take a few chances and that's usually when we capitalize."
Andrei Kostitsyn had the only goal for the Canadiens, who outshot the Senators 34-29.
Ray Emery picked up his second straight win in the Ottawa goal.
Cristobal Huet made the start for the Canadiens but was pulled after having allowed three goals on just four shots.
Spezza scored 22 seconds into the contest and scored his second goal of the game at 1:42. Alfredsson gave the Senators a 3-0 lead at 4:45 and chased Huet, who was replaced by Carey Price.
"It was obviously a bad start and we gave them the game in the first four minutes," Huet said.
"They're a good team and they played very well tonight."
Alfredsson set a team and personal record with a seven-point game in Tampa Bay right before the all-star break.
He said the play of his linemates made the transition back into playing time an easy one.
"It's easier for me to come in and get to the open spots because Spezza is playing really well which makes life a lot easier on his wingers," Alfredsson said.
The Senators went up 5-0 in the second period on goals by Heatley and Spezza, and it wasn't until the final minute of the second period that the Canadiens got on the scoreboard.
Price started the play when he hit Sergei Kostitsyn with a pass at the Senators blue-line. Sergei then fed brother Andrei at the side of the net and he simply redirected the puck past Emery. The Canadiens were skating five-on-three at the time.
Alfredsson scored the lone goal of the third period.
Notes: Feb. 8 was the 60th anniversary of the RCAF Flyers' gold-medal victory at the 1948 Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Two members of that team, Ab Renaud and Andre Laperierre took part in the ceremonial face off before the game. . . . Joe Corvo collected the 100th assist of his career in the first period.