Martin F. Gerber

Doesn’t sound right, does it?

How about this then: F.ifth place?

The loss to Ottawa and a shootout win by New Jersey left Canadiens behind the Devils, the Senators, the Hurricanes and the Penguins in the tight Eastern Division playoff race.

Gerber stopped 28 shots and became the fourth visiting goaltender to hang a goose egg on Canadiens this season, after Jocelyn Thibault, Dany Sabourin and Pascal Leclaire.

Goaltending and special teams.

While Gerber was stopping everything and the Ottawa PK went 3-for-3, Jason Spezza scored twice on the power play.

Ottawa played hard-hitting, opportunistic hockey for 60 minutes. Canadiens played in fits and starts, with most of the fits experienced by the top two lines.

Saku Koivu, Chris Higgins and Sergei Kostitsyn had zero shots on goal. The Tomas Plekanec line had eight shots, but Gerber was rarely pressured.

"Against teams like Anaheim and Ottawa, you have to be ready to work hard," said coach Guy Carbonneau.

"Their forecheck wasn’t as hard as usual," said Koivu, "but they really played well between the bluelines.

"They played tight. It was a little bit different game than what we’ve faced lately. We didn’t use our speed as well as we have been and some of the passes weren’t on the tape. Even when we had the chances we didn’t capitalize on them.

"We just didn’t get things going tonight.

"It’s not we didn’t work hard," Koivu added. "We just weren’t as hungry as we should have been … When you play a top team, an OK night is not going to get you anywhere."

A less-than-OK night leaves the heretofore high-flying Canadiens out of home-ice advantage were the playoffs to begin tomorrow.

Ottawa’s fifth W in six games against Canadiens this season moved the Senators to the top of the Northeast Division. The teams have the same number of points, but Ottawa has 40 wins to 39 for Canadiens.


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