OTTAWA — When the Vancouver Canucks visit the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night, it will be a meeting of a team that is struggling mightily with its offense against one that is doing a good job keeping pucks out of its net.
The Canucks are coming off a 3-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday that kicked off a six-game road trip, which matches their longest of the season. They have lost five in a row, including a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Senators on Oct. 25 in Vancouver.
The Senators are off to a 6-3-0 start and the Canucks have turned a good start into a 4-5-1 record.
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During their 240-minute losing streak, the Canucks have scored just two goals.
“When you're struggling to score goals, you start chasing the game, you start forechecking too hard, and you lose guys in the offensive zone,” Canucks winger Daniel Sedin said after the loss to Montreal. “Tonight we had our third guy high, our defensemen could pinch, kept the play alive. That's why we had a lot of zone time, too, and more offensive shots.
“But can we do it again? That's the challenge for us. If we can do it once, I think we can do it every game.”
The Senators are coming off a 2-1 overtime victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on tuesday at Canadian Tire Centre that was their second victory in a row. They have won three of their last four, including two shutouts by goalie Craig Anderson, whose wife was recently diagnosed with cancer.
Amazingly, Anderson's focus has been stellar throughout the hardship. He has won his last three starts while stopping 91 of 92 shots.
“He's an inspiration to all of us, I will tell you that,” Senators defenseman Dion Phaneuf said. “He's been incredible, not only the way that he's stopping the puck, but just his strength and courage. It's something that has definitely touched our room.”
While Anderson could leave the team to be with his wife at any moment, and with backup Andrew Hammond nursing a groin injury, the Senators obtained goalie Mike Condon from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick.
“The situation with (Anderson) is very fluid,” Senators GM Pierre Dorion said. “We can't afford, at the present time, not to field the best team we can.”
As a longtime Buffalo Sabres goalie, Ryan Miller has faced the Senators often. He is 18-21-4 against Ottawa with a .919 save percentage and a 2.61 goals-against average.
If Miller doesn't go back-to-back, Canucks backup Jack Marksstrom is 0-1 against the Senators, allowing four goals the only time he faced them.
“You have to stay with your process,” Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said. “You don't have any choice. I thought we had a better effort creating shots.
“I believe that if we play like that every night, we'll win our share of games. That's what we have to believe and that's how we have to keep playing.”