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Their franchise-record win streak is over, but the Ottawa Senators still have the best record in the Eastern Conference. The Montreal Canadiens, however, are making a bid for the top spot.
After losing for just the second time this season, the Senators look to bounce back on Saturday when they host the streaking Canadiens in a matchup between the top teams in the Northeast Division.
The Senators (13-2-0) set an NHL record with 26 points in their first 14 games - a run they capped with an eight-game win streak, the longest in the team's 15-year history. Ottawa, though, had its run snapped with a 4-1 home loss to Washington on Thursday night.
After failing to convert a 5-on-3 opportunity in a scoreless game early in the second period, Ottawa gave up three straight goals to suffer its first loss since Oct. 11 against Carolina. It was the team's second defeat in 10 home games.
"We had our chances in the first and then early in the second, it's a tie game and we got a 5-on-3, and when you lose the game, that's where we kind of look back and say that could have been the difference," said right wing Daniel Alfredsson, who scored the Senators' only goal - his team-high 11th of the season.
"We were taking too many penalties and giving them too much momentum for being on the road."
The Senators haven't dropped back-to-back regular-season games in regulation since suffering consecutive home losses to Boston and Tampa Bay last Dec. 19-21. They're 44-9-8 in the regular season since then.
The Canadiens (9-3-3), though, are 7-1-1 in their last nine games and tied for the second-best record in the East - five points behind the Senators.
Montreal's line of Alexei Kovalev, Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn combined for six points and rookie goaltender Carey Price stopped 28 shots as the Canadiens beat Boston 2-1 on Thursday.
"That was pretty close to a perfect game," said Price. "We slowed the game down and limited their chances."
With their third straight road victory, the Canadiens improved to 5-1-1 away from Montreal. They're looking for their first four-game road win streak since Feb. 9-March 4, 2006.
Continuing their road success could be a challenge in Ottawa, where the Canadiens are 3-8-1 since 2003-04. That includes their lone regulation loss on the road this season - a 4-3 defeat on Oct. 18.
Price was in net for that loss, but Cristobal Huet is expected to start Saturday. Huet is 3-3-1 with a 3.36 goals-against average in seven career games against the Senators.
Ottawa goaltender Martin Gerber, among league leaders with a 1.80 GAA in 11 games this season, is 5-1-0 with a 2.51 GAA in six career games against Montreal.
Gerber could get plenty of help from Alfredsson, who has 22 goals and 52 assists in his career against Montreal. He has more points against the Canadiens than he does against any other team. His next-highest total is 54 against Toronto.