The Ottawa Senators have pulled themselves into the Eastern Conference playoff race with their recent surge. They'll look to continue their impressive play at the expense of the inconsistent Montreal Canadiens.
Ottawa tries for its third straight victory in the series when it hosts Montreal on Thursday night.
The Senators (21-18-8), winners of four straight at home, have won six of seven overall after earning seven points on a four-game trip. They closed it out with a 3-0 victory over Minnesota on Tuesday as Kyle Turris recorded a goal and an assist and Clarke MacArthur tallied his fifth goal in six games.
Ottawa was five points back of a wild-card spot with a 14-17-7 record Dec. 21, but it's gone 7-1-2 since and is a point out of playoff position.
"All we've done now is set the table to keep doing it," coach Paul MacLean said. "Our team had been playing better and better as December rolled on, so the potential was there for us to have success on this road trip."
The Senators have won both meetings with the Canadiens this season, 4-1 at home Nov. 7 and 4-3 in overtime at Montreal on Jan. 4. MacArthur tallied a goal and two assists in those games.
The victories gave Ottawa a 3-0-1 mark in the past four matchups and a 6-2-2 record in the last 10.
The Canadiens (26-16-5) have gone 7-5-2 in their last 14 contests, getting outscored 40-32. They've totaled six goals in the last four games.
Montreal fell 4-1 at home to New Jersey on Tuesday despite a 30-19 advantage in shots. Max Pacioretty recorded his 20th goal of the season seven minutes into the game to open the scoring before the Devils took control.
Brendan Gallagher's second-period goal was disallowed after a video review.
"We competed. We set the tempo, but the story of the game was Marty Brodeur," coach Michel Therrien said of New Jersey's goaltender. "He was phenomenal. We were the attacking team. We outshot them, but it was one of those nights when you run into a hot goaltender."
The Canadiens were scoreless on three power-play opportunities and are 0 for 17 over their last five games.
"We're not standing here with our arms crossed, and hoping that it will get going again. We're working very hard at it," Therrien told the team's website about the power play. "We're having meetings with the guys. We're working on it in morning skates. It's something that we're really focusing on and we're expecting that it will get back on track soon."
Carey Price had another shaky performance in net Tuesday, surrendering at least three goals for the fourth time in six starts. He's allowed at least three in each of his last three starts against Ottawa while posting an .888 save percentage.
Center David Desharnais didn't play against New Jersey due to the flu and didn't practice Wednesday, but Therrien didn't rule him out for this game.
It's uncertain if Ottawa's Chris Phillips will be able to play. The defenseman left in the third period against the Wild after taking a puck to the face.
The Associated Press News Service
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