Series (Game 1 of 6)

Ottawa leads 4-2

Game 1: Thursday, October 9th
Game 2: Saturday, October 25th
Game 3: Saturday, November 15th
Game 4: Saturday, February 14th
Game 5: Tuesday, February 24th
Game 6: Thursday, March 25th

Canadiens 2

(0-1-0, 0 pts)

Senators 5

(1-0-0, 2 pts)

7:00 PM ET, October 9, 2003

Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

1 2 3 T
MTL 1 1 02
OTT 3 2 05

C. Phillips (Senators - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

D. Alfredsson (Senators - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

C. Neil (Senators - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Spezza, Phillips each notch goal, assist

OTTAWA (AP) -- Jason Spezza is ready for a full season on the Ottawa Senators' ever-dangerous power play.

Spezza and Petr Schastlivy scored power-play goals in the first period to send Ottawa to a 5-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night in each team's season opener.

Chris Neil, Chris Phillips and Daniel Alfredsson also scored for the Senators, who had the NHL's second-ranked power play last season before falling one win short of the Stanley Cup finals.

"We have two great power-play units and we have tons of talent on both of them so it's always fun to get out there on the power play and move the puck around," said Spezza, who played 33 games as a rookie last season.

New Senators owner Eugene Melnyk -- who hired the Eagles to play a concert for season-ticket holders Wednesday -- addressed the sellout crowd of 18,500 during pregame ceremonies which honored the team's standout season and commemorated two losses to the NHL community.

Even without unrestricted free agent Martin Havlat, Ottawa's power-play unit excelled, scoring on two of its first three opportunities while building a 3-1 lead in the first.

"Whenever you're down 3-1 in the first it's always hard to come back, especially against a team like Ottawa," Canadiens goalie Jose Theodore said.

Spezza, Alfredsson and Phillips each had two points for the Senators, and Patrick Lalime made 27 saves.

"It just seems like the power play was really good when we needed it today, which was nice to see since we struggled with it in the preseason," Alfredsson said. "Overall we made the most of our chances and Lalime was great in our net."

Ron Hainsey and Mike Ribeiro scored for Montreal, which hired former captain Bob Gainey to take over as general manager after the Canadiens missed the playoffs for the fourth time in five years last season -- unprecedented in the storied franchise's long history.

"We weren't patient tonight," Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. "We gambled and that left Jose on his own on a lot of occasions. That wasn't the type of game that we want to play."

A banner was unveiled during pregame ceremonies that recognized the Senators' first Presidents' Trophy.

A moment of silence was held in memory of Atlanta center Dan Snyder, who died Sunday from injuries suffered in a car wreck with teammate Dany Heatley.

Senators assistant coach Roger Neilson, who died the day of the NHL draft in June, also was remembered in a video tribute.

"It was a bit of a rollercoaster there from ceremony to ceremony," Phillips said. "To see that banner come down, the guys that were here last year will have a part of that forever.

"Dan Snyder's story is tragic and heartfelt all around the league. It's a tough situation, as well as Roger and how much he meant to the guys in this dressing room and the mark he left on our coaching staff. He just passed so much on to everybody.

"And then to bring out our new owner, that was a good way to finish off the ceremonies on a high note and we carried on from there."

Spezza opened the scoring 5:10 in, beating Theodore through the legs on a pass from Radek Bonk just 21 seconds after Montreal was called for too many men on the ice.

Hainsey tied it at 11:46 when Joe Juneau's cross-ice pass found him alone one second after Ottawa's Antoine Vermette stepped out of the penalty box.

Neil deflected Wade Redden's shot at 17:42 to put the Senators up 2-1. Schastlivy scored Ottawa's second power-play goal with six seconds left in the period.

"We have a lot of great hockey players and when you get power plays, you have to try to take advantage of them," Spezza said. "We work on our power play a lot and it pays off for us."

Phillips completed a two-on-one with Marian Hossa 9:17 into the second to increase the lead to 4-1.

Ribeiro scored at 14:40 of the second to draw Montreal within two.

Alfredsson restored Ottawa's three-goal lead at 17:05.

Game notes

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman drew boos when his name was announced as he was shown on the video board making a $20,000 contribution to Neilson's charity during the second period. ... Montreal opened the season without captain Saku Koivu and center Chad Kilger, who are recovering from preseason injuries. ... Spezza scored three of his seven goals last season on the power play. ... Senators center Todd White left the game in the third with an upper body injury.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press