After Montreal's Max Pacioretty forced overtime with 39 seconds left in regulation time, Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson got the only goal in a shootout as the Senators pulled out a 3-2 victory on Saturday night.
It was Ottawa's fourth win in a row and gave them a sweep of a three-game road trip after wins in Pittsburgh and over the Rangers in New York. It extended their run without a regulation time loss to nine games.
''Winning three of three on the road is huge,'' said Alfredsson, whose team returns home to face Winnipeg on Monday and then heads out for six more on the road. ''It's a tough stretch for us and to start like this is great.
''It's not always pretty but we've found ways to win. As long as the points add up, we'll take it.''
After Kyle Turris and Jason Spezza gave Ottawa the lead in the third period, Montreal pulled goalie Carey Price for an extra attacker and tied the game when Pacioretty banged in the rebound of David Desharnais shot at the edge of the crease.
But Montreal (16-20-8) could not beat goaltender Craig Anderson in three attempts in the shootout, while Alfredsson got Ottawa's third attempt past Price. The Senators improved to 25-15-6 to move one point behind Northeast Division-leading Boston, although the Bruins hold five games in hand.
The Canadiens have gone three games without a win and are 3-8-1 since Randy Cunneyworth became interim coach in place of the fired Jacques Martin.
Montreal was expected to get a jolt from the trade of forward Michael Cammalleri to Calgary during a 2-1 loss in Boston on Thursday. But while they outshot Ottawa 35-25 and controlled much of the play, the offensive woes that has seen them score only three times in the last three games continued.
After Tomas Plekanec put them ahead in the opening minute of the third period on a shorthanded breakaway, the Canadiens looked scrambly and nervous as Ottawa roared back with a pair of goals.
''When we get the lead we need to play the same way that got us the lead,'' said price. ''Playing on the forecheck is our strength.
''It's a tentative time too. You've got to realize the situation we're in. Guys don't want to make mistakes. It's hard to play hockey when you're scared to make mistakes. We've got to find a way to not grip the sticks too hard and just play.''
The situation is getting desperate for Montreal, which is eight points behind Washington for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
''I think we're headed in the right direction,'' Price added. ''Guys are working hard.
''I think we deserve better, but we can't keep using that one, so I don't know what to say any more.''
Winger Rene Bourque, acquired from the Flames in the trade, served the last of his five-game suspension for elbowing Washington's Nicklas Backstrom and will make his Canadiens' debut Sunday night at home against the Rangers.
Plekanec was stopped by Anderson on a short-handed breakaway in the first period but made good the second time only 42 seconds into the third. Anderson, who was coming off a 3-0 win against the Rangers, saw his shutout run ended at 129 minutes 38 seconds.
The lead didn't last long as Sergei Gonchar's point shot was tipped in the slot by Turris to tie the game at 5:57.
Plekanec was off for high-sticking when Spezza beat Price with a blast from the left circle at 13:42.
Defenceman P.K. Subban had a goal disallowed 7:12 into the game as teammate Andrei Kostitsyn was called for goaltender interference.
Cunneyworth said Kostitsyn was pushed into the crease and that it was a ''legitimate goal.
''Our player was cross-checked into the crease.
''That (Ottawa) team's a pretty good third period team and they're playing with confidence right now. The fact that we were resilient and came back to tie it says something about us. We're disappointed, but we're OK with it right now.''
Notes _ Montreal is 1-6 in shootouts this season. . . The Canadiens opted to scratch defenceman Alexei Emelin and start Chris Campoli against his former team. . . Scott Gomez returned from a groin injury and looked rusty.He got 16:46 of ice time, but no shots or points. . .Ottawa sat out defenceman Brian Lee.