The Ottawa Senators may take a back-to-basics approach Monday when they play their Northeast Division rivals, the Montreal Canadiens, in a bid to avoid consecutive defeats for the first time this season.
The Senators (15-3-0) did all the little things throughout a 13-1-0 start, but strayed from that way of playing in a 3-0 loss to Toronto on Saturday - the first time they were shut out in 2007-08. Ottawa went 0-for-4 with the man advantage and gave up two power-play goals to drop to 2-2 in their last four.
"Obviously, by our record, we've done things right more often than we haven't," Senators coach John Paddock told the team's official Web site. "But doing things right is playing hard, too. (We had) eight turnovers at the blue line in the third period, and that cost us the game. That gave (the Leafs) eight opportunities to come back into our zone and cost us eight opportunities to go into their zone.
"It's just about being focused and being ready to play. It's not rocket science - it's just make the right choice, make the right decision. And there weren't enough right decisions made."
The Senators are 1-for-18 on the power play in their last four games and have allowed six power-play goals in their last five contests after yielding seven in the first 13.
Martin Gerber is expected to start in goal Monday in a bid for his third victory over Montreal this season. He's 6-1-0 with a 2.29 goals-against average in his career against the Canadiens, including 2-0 with a 1.50 GAA at the Bell Centre.
Montreal (11-5-3) is only five points behind Ottawa and enters Monday's game having won four of six. Saku Koivu and Roman Hamrlik each had a goal and an assist in Saturday's 7-4 victory over Boston, a game that turned chippy during the final 10 minutes.
"It seemed like we'd get the lead and then make one big mistake and let them score," said Hamrlik, who gave Montreal a 5-3 lead with his second goal of the season 4:23 into the third. "We knew we didn't want to change anything after the second period and we came out hard."
Kyle Chipchura, Andrei Markov, Michael Ryder and Mark Streit each added two assists and Alexei Kovalev scored his team-leading 10th goal. Kovalev has 17 goals against the Senators, but only four in the past 17 meetings.
The veteran Russian forward, though, became the first Canadiens player to score 10 goals in the first 20 games or less since Martin Rucinsky in 1996-97.
"I'm feeling really good right now, that's for sure, but not only because the puck is in going in for me," Kovalev, who managed just 18 goals and 29 assists in 73 games last season, told the Canadiens' Web site. "Last year was hard on me and I had a long summer to think about it. I knew I had to change my approach and my attitude this season and that's what I've done."
Ottawa is 11-6-1 against Montreal since the start of the 2005-06 season, but has lost five of its last seven at the Bell Centre.