Canucks-Senators Preview


Neither the Vancouver Canucks nor the Ottawa Senators are playing particularly well.

However, it's the Canucks that might be even more desperate for a victory considering the heartbreaking defeat they suffered their last time out.

Vancouver seeks just its second win in nine games Thursday night when it visits Ottawa.

The Canucks (12-9-5) were in much better shape a month ago, sitting near the top of the Western Conference with an 8-4-1 record. They've posted a 3-5-4 record since Oct. 30, including a 1-4-3 mark over the last eight contests.

Perhaps the most disappointing setback came in Monday's 3-2 overtime loss to Los Angeles. Roberto Luongo yielded the tying goal with less than 3 minutes left in regulation, then allowed the winner to Anze Kopitar just 48 seconds into overtime.

Vancouver has had plenty of opportunities but is scoring on just 3.7 percent of its shots over its last seven losses, totaling nine goals.

"A couple mistakes are costing us," said Henrik Sedin, who has three goals and 10 assists in his last eight meetings with Ottawa.

"We're playing so well defensively throughout the game and it seems like every time something late in games is costing us goals," he said. "It's extremely tough to take."

After a 1-2-3 homestand, the outlook wouldn't seem too favorable heading into a four-game trip. Coach John Tortorella didn't necessarily see it that way, though.

"I'm very excited about some of the things that happened tonight. You may call me crazy, but I am," said Tortorella, whose team claimed an advantage in shots for the ninth time in 11 games. "We've just got to keep banging away and work on some details of the game, understand situational play and keep working at this."

Vancouver has won nine of 10 meetings with the Senators, and five of six in Ottawa, though they haven't met in nearly two years.

Daniel Sedin, who had a tooth knocked out by a high stick against the Kings, has 12 points over his last 10 matchups. He has one goal and four assists in his last nine games overall.

Luongo has also played well against the Senators, winning eight straight starts with a 1.86 goals-against average. However, he'll have to slow down an Ottawa team coming off an impressive offensive performance with a 6-4 win at Washington on Wednesday.

The Senators (10-11-4) won for just the second time in six games, getting two goals from Bobby Ryan and the go-ahead score from Zack Smith with 2:23 left despite digging a 3-1 hole for themselves after one period.

Ottawa had been 2-6-2 in games it trailed after the first 20 minutes.

"Obviously a huge two points for us," defenseman Chris Phillips said. "We need to build off this momentum and keep it going. We look at the standings and we're not in a great spot right now. We need to get on a bit of a roll."

The Senators have scored nine times on 30 power plays over their last six games but face a Canucks team that has killed an NHL-best 95.2 percent of its penalties (40 of 42) in nine games since Oct. 28.

Ottawa leads the NHL with 32.6 hits per game, while Vancouver is one of the league's least physical teams with 18.5.