Party poopers

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

MONTREAL -- On a night the Montreal Canadiens raised the No. 19 of former great defenceman Larry Robinson to the rafters, the Habs' defence was hung out to dry.

The Senators found room and opportunity in front of Montreal goaltender Cristobal Huet in their 4-2 win over the Habs at a sold-out Bell Centre. It's tough enough playing against an offensively gifted bunch like the Senators without giving them the kind of time they got last night in the area of the blue paint.

There was plenty of emotion in the building after the ceremony to retire Robinson's number, but it was quickly zapped as the Senators offence, which had been blanked in Saturday night's loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, came to life to push their league-leading record to 16-3. The surprising Habs fell to 11-6-3.

Senators coach John Paddock was looking for somebody to get his club's offence going and shook up his lines to try and find a spark.

Winger Chris Neil might not have been your first choice to help kickstart things, but the grinder came up with a goal and an assist while taking a turn playing with Dany Heatley -- who scored his ninth of the season and first in seven games -- and Jason Spezza, who had three assists.

"Neil did a real good job creating traffic around the net and he gave us a different look on the power play because it wasn't working. He was aces," said Paddock.

The Senators were repeatedly left open in front of Huet and they took advantage.

"You're going to lose games in this league and you're going to have bad nights," said Spezza. "The good teams don't get stuck in ruts and lose three or four in a row. That's what we were focused on."

Spezza was thrilled to take in Robinson's ceremony.

'SPECIAL'

"It was special just to be in the building and to have him come over and shake our hands gave you chills," said Spezza.

Patrick Eaves scored on a power play less than four minutes into the game on a great pass by Daniel Alfredsson.

Alfredsson played with Mike Fisher and Antoine Vermette and the captain was once again a tower of power.

Neil found himself alone in front and scored his third of the season on a tap-in at 8:57 on a smart pass by Spezza.

Guillaume Latendresse cut the lead in half with a power-play goal at 10:18 after winning a battle with Christoph Schubert.

The Canadiens' power play is first in the league and Latendresse's goal marked the 15th time in the 20 games they've played this season that they have scored at least one power-play goal.

Heatley was pretty much unattended at 14:35 of the second to make it 3-1. Montreal's Chris Higgins snapped one by Senators goaltender Martin Gerber from the right-wing circle at 4:31 of the third.

Senators winger Randy Robitaille bruised his left hand and did not return.

After spending the night in Montreal last night, the Senators will practise here today before flying off to Buffalo where they will take on the Sabres tomorrow night.


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