Canucks-Senators Preview

The Ottawa Senators don’t seem to have trouble beating anyone

recently, and that could give them good momentum as they prepare to

face a team they haven’t defeated at home in more than eight

years.

Looking to extend their franchise-record winning streak to 11

games, the Senators also will try to snap a four-game slide against

the Vancouver Canucks, who continue their daunting six-week road

trip Thursday night.

Ottawa (32-21-4) extended its run with a 4-2 win over Buffalo on

Wednesday, pulling within three points of the Northeast

Division-leading Sabres. Daniel Alfredsson broke a 2-2 tie with 60

seconds to play before adding an empty-netter.

“It is impressive,” said Alfredsson, the Senators captain and

longest-tenured player. “I don’t think we expected this from

ourselves, either.”

Jason Spezza had two goals and an assist for the Senators, who

haven’t lost since a 6-1 defeat at Atlanta on Jan. 12 and have

outscored their opponents 34-12 during the winning streak.

Alfredsson has seven goals in nine games since returning Jan. 16

following an 11-game absence due to a separated shoulder. Spezza

was sidelined 20 games with a knee injury before coming back Jan.

23, and has goals in seven straight contests dating back to Dec.

12.

The victory against the Sabres is just one of several impressive

wins Ottawa has put together during this streak. It’s also beaten

division leaders New Jersey and Chicago and defending Stanley Cup

champion Pittsburgh.

Now, the Senators will face the best from the Northwest.

Vancouver (34-19-2) took both meetings last season and has won six

of the last seven.

Despite a season-high 47 shots on goal Tuesday, the Canucks fell

3-2 to Montreal, snapping their seven-game winning streak. Mikael

Samuelsson and Ryan Kesler scored power-play goals for

Vancouver.

“Hockey is a great game and I thought that was a hard-fought

game by both teams tonight,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault

said.

The game was the second in an NHL-record 14-game road trip while

GM Place gets ready to host the Olympics. The Canucks opened the

swing Saturday by rallying from an early three-goal deficit to beat

Toronto 5-3.

Starting with this contest, the Canucks will play six games in

10 days before the break. Henrik Sedin, who leads the league with

78 points, is looking forward to the challenge.

“This is when the fun starts, we play every second day, and we

have a back-to-back at the end of the road trip so it should be

good now,” he told the Canucks’ official Web site.

Sedin and Alex Burrows were held without a point against the

Canadiens. Along with Henrik’s twin Daniel, the Canucks’ top line

has accounted for 14 goals and 26 assists over the last eight

games.

Henrik Sedin had two goals and two assists in two wins against

the Senators last season. Daniel had a goal and three assists.

Vancouver hasn’t lost to Ottawa since falling 2-1 on March 13,

2004. The Canucks’ last road loss to the Senators was a 3-0 defeat

on Nov. 20, 2001.