Hats off to Higgins

CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

MONTREAL -- When Jarkko Ruutu waving good-bye to a jeering Bell Centre crowd is the most interesting part of the Senators' night, you pretty much know how the night went.

Not good.

The Canadiens waved goodbye to the Senators much earlier in the evening in their 4-0 win.

Montreal winger Chris Higgins had a hat trick, with one of the goals short-handed, and goalie Carey Price had the shutout as the Senators lost their second straight game. The momentum they had from a good stretch of games a week ago seems to have dissipated. Apart from winger Dany Heatley hitting the post in the third period on a break in, the Senators didn't do much in the way of making Price's life miserable.

"I thought we gave the game away in the second period," said Senators coach Craig Hartsburg. "We were down a goal and I thought we had some momentum going. We get a power play and at the end of it, we wind up scrambling and they score. That was the difference in the game."

That key goal was Higgins' second of the night, capping a long sequence where the Senators were running around their own zone.

Ruutu was one of the few Senators who looked interested last night, taking a big run at Canadiens winger Maxime Lapierre and catching him with an elbow.

Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said he hopes the NHL will take a look at the hit. Ruutu also fought Francis Bouillon and exchanged jabs with his stick with enforcer George Laraque.

When Ruutu left the ice in the waning minutes, he started jawing with Lapierre, who was seated at the end of the Montreal bench. Ruutu was given a misconduct penalty and alternated waving hands to the crowd as he skated to the dressing room.

"They were cheering for me and I wanted to thank them," said Ruutu. "I appreciated the chants. It's not the first time. I want it to be black and white. I want people to love me or hate me."

There wasn't much to like about the Senators' game last night. The Senators found themselves down 1-0 after the first, after surrendering a short-handed breakaway goal to Higgins.

After Montreal's Robert Lang was sent off for shooting the puck over the glass in his own zone, Heatley tried to stickhandle his way into the Montreal zone and was stripped of the puck by Saku Koivu.

That started a chain of events that left the Senators looking ragged and overmatched. The Canadiens had the run of the Ottawa zone despite being short-handed and only desperation moves by defenceman Christoph Schubert to tip the puck away a couple of times kept Montreal from scoring another short-handed goal.

As the penalty ended, a nifty Sergei Kostitsyn pass left Higgins with an open net.

After challenging centre Jason Spezza heading into this game, Hartsburg said he was happy with the effort.

"I thought Jason played hard and competed. He had some chances," said Hartsburg. "If he plays that hard every night, he'll have no complaints from me."

The Senators will try to get back on track when they host the New York Islanders tomorrow night.


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