01/15/2015 10:25 EST | Updated 03/17/2015 05:59 EDT

Pageau's first of season stands up as winner as Sens beat Habs 4-1

OTTAWA - If the Ottawa Senators have any chance of making the playoffs they're going to need a lot more nights like Thursday.

The Senators defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 with a solid effort from start to finish.

"We've got to take care of business at home," said goaltender Craig Anderson, who has allowed two goals or less in eight of his last ten starts. "The teams that are in the playoffs right now have got really good home records. For us, we've got to win some games and put some pressure on the teams in front of us."

Anderson was sturdy in goal stopping, 25 shots in his 399th game, while Jean-Gabriel Pageau's first of the season held up as the game winner.

Mika Zibanejad, Erik Karlsson and Erik Condra also scored for the Senators (18-17-8).

Max Pacioretty scored the lone goal for the Canadiens (27-13-3) as Dustin Tokarski turned away 31-of-34 shots.

This marked the Senators first home game since returning from a four-game road trip, where Ottawa went 1-2-1, and they looked motivated to entertain the sold out crowd of 19,893.

"We had the jump," said Anderson. "Montreal played and travelled. We had the fresher legs. We were able to capitalize and play hard and make it hard for them to attack our net. We didn't give them a whole lot."

The Canadiens admitted they were far from their best and need to be better. Seven forwards finished the game without a shot on goal and coach Michel Therrien says that's just not acceptable.

"We need contributions from more than one line," said Therrien. "Right now we only have contributions from one line and that's not good enough."

The Canadiens had played the Columbus Blue Jackets Wednesday night and travelled right after the game and while they don't want to use the back-to-back as an excuse they felt it definitely had an impact.

"It is tough, I'm not going to deny it," said Therrien. "The back-to-back is not easy. You're looking around the NHL, it's tough to be back-to-back on the road, but when we got our legs going it was too late."

Holding a 3-1 lead to open the third period, the Senators were determined not to make the same mistake they did in Dallas two nights prior when they squandered a two-goal lead to eventually lose the game.

Ottawa played a sound defensive game and kept things simple as the Canadiens did their best to rally.

"We've been on the road a lot, it's tiring," said Karlsson. "It's nice to be home. It felt like we had more energy from the start. We never let off the gas and it felt like for the first time in awhile we played three periods really well and it gave us the win."

The Senators were up after the opening 20 minutes 3-1 and, despite playing much of the second period shorthanded and being outshot 14-7, were able to maintain the lead.

"We stuck to it," said Karlsson. "We played well over 60 minutes and we didn't give them a lot. We played the system. We got pucks in and we got pucks out. We came out really strong. (In the past), we've had one period where we let it slip away and we didn't have that."

Ottawa took four minor penalties in the second and if not for the play of Anderson and the fact the Canadiens power play has been less than stellar this season things could have changed very quickly.

"I don't think the power play was the reason we didn't win (Thursday)," said Montreal's Lars Eller. "We didn't get the job done and execute it as well as they did. They capitalized on their chances and scored more goals than us and got the win."

Zibanejad opened the scoring at 1:09 of the first period as he beat Tokarski from in close short side.

Pacioretty tied the game at the 14-minute mark as he beat Anderson short side after taking a pass at centre ice. Ottawa's Jared Cowen got a stick on the puck, but rather than pushing it away he put it right back on Pacioretty's stick.

Pacioretty is on a career-high six-game goal streak.

Ottawa regained the lead when Pageau banged home Milan Michalek's rebound.

"This one felt really good," said Pageau, who scored three against Montreal in Game 3 of the 2013 Eastern Conference quarter-finals. "It was my first one this year. It takes a lot of pressure off my shoulders. I was really happy to score.

"I celebrated like it was my 15th goal of the season, but it was only my first. I'm very happy to put this behind me."

Karlsson made it 3-1 early in the second period to put an end to a 15-game scoring drought as he beat Tokarski with a slap shot and Condra added a goal into an empty net in the final minute of regulation.

Montreal had won its last four games against Ottawa going back to last season.

The Senators are back in action Saturday night against Carolina, while Montreal will host the New York Islanders.

Notes: D Chris Phillips and C Colin Greening were a healthy scratch. C Zack Smith (wrist), RW Chris Neil (knee) D Mark Borowiecki (leg) all remain sidelined for the Senators. Montreal C David Desharnais played his 300th NHL game. D Mike Weaver and LW Christian Thomas were a healthy scratch for Montreal.