MONTREAL (AP) - Bob Gainey used an effective approach to coax a big goal out of a struggling player.
Richard Zednik scored for the first time in more than a month midway through the third period to snap a tie and push the Montreal Canadiens to a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Monday night.
Zednik, a healthy scratch for three straight games, backhanded a rebound into an open right side at 9:27 to give Montreal its second lead. He paid for his first goal in 14 games since March 7 by being pushed face first into the crossbar by Ottawa's Peter Schaefer.
"I think he's proven over a long period of time that he's capable of that," said Gainey, Montreal's coach and general manager. "Tonight, we were able to access that part of his play."
David Aebischer made 35 saves to defeat Ottawa for the second time in five days. Chris Higgins scored for the fourth straight game and Sheldon Souray also had a goal for Montreal, which moved into seventh place in the Eastern Conference - two points ahead of Tampa Bay.
"It was a tremendous effort by the team, especially in the second and third periods," said Aebischer, who won his third start in a row after losing his first two following his acquisition in the March 8 trade that sent goalie Jose Theodore to Colorado.
The Canadiens, two points behind sixth-place New Jersey, have won nine of 10. Montreal bounced back from a 3-2 loss to the Devils on Saturday that snapped an eight-game winning streak, its longest in over 13 years.
Dany Heatley extended his team record to 48 goals for Ottawa, which has lost a season-high four straight and remained tied with Carolina for first place in the East with 108 points.
Rookie defenseman Andrej Meszaros also scored for the Senators, who hadn't lost more than two in a row before this skid.
"I don't think we were worried about the outcome," Senators center Bryan Smolinski said. "I think we had a plan in mind, it was to play hard, get some passion back in our game and then see where it takes us. Unfortunately, it was on the wrong side of this one."
Aebischer, who made 44 saves Thursday in a 5-3 win in Ottawa, stopped 15 shots in the first as the Senators held a 16-10 margin in the period and 37-25 overall.
"Ottawa, as they were in Ottawa, were really in control in the first period," Gainey said.
Senators forward Patrick Eaves sustained a lower body injury in the second period and didn't return. Ottawa was already playing without goalie Dominik Hasek and top three defensemen Zdeno Chara, Wade Redden and Chris Phillips.
"It was a playoff-type game but I thought we had the better scoring chances and we showed our heart out there, how much we wanted to win it," Emery said. "Aebischer made some saves and I didn't, so it can't happen."
Higgins opened the scoring 2:57 in with his 23rd goal after Montreal killed off Mike Komisarek's holding penalty. Ray Emery stopped Andrei Markov's wrist shot, but Higgins got the rebound and put a backhand past the Ottawa goalie for his ninth goal in eight games.
Heatley gave Ottawa a 2-1 lead when he recovered his own rebound and moved around Aebischer to tuck a backhand into the right side at 11:10.
Souray tied it 6:58 into the second with his 11th goal, one-timing a puck off the left boards past Emery from a sharp angle.
Notes: Senators RW Martin Havlat was cleared to return to the lineup Saturday in Toronto. Havlat was examined in Cleveland earlier in the day by Dr. Anthony Miniaci, who performed surgery on Havlat's dislocated right shoulder on Dec. 10. ... Canadiens centers Steve Begin and Radek Bonk didn't play. Begin sprained his knee in Saturday's loss, and Bonk has an unspecified leg injury. ... C Maxim Lapierre was recalled by Montreal from Hamilton of the AHL earlier Monday but he didn't dress. ... The Canadiens sold out their first 39 home games.