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At the Rink: Senators at Canucks

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER -- It wasn't long ago that Curtis Lazar used to make the nearly four-hour drive from his hometown of Vernon, British Columbia, to watch the Vancouver Canucks play and dream of one day skating on the same ice.

The 19-year-old Ottawa Senators rookie will get to do it for real Tuesday.

"I was a diehard Canucks fan growing up," Lazar said. "The trips to Vancouver to watch the Canucks are close to my heart. I just tried to cherish that moment and the experience of coming here and it would be like, 'This is where I want to be, my dream is to play on this ice.'"

Lazar took a big step toward that dream when the Senators picked him 17th in the 2013 NHL Draft. After establishing new junior hockey career highs with 41 goals and 76 points for the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Western Hockey League last season, Lazar made the Senators out of training camp.

It doesn't seem like long ago he was watching from the stands.

"It's funny, you'd look and be like, 'Wow, it's NHLers, look how big and strong they are,' and here I am 19 and I'm playing here," he said.

Lazar, who has four assists in 12 games, will continue to center a "kid line" between 24-year-old Mike Hoffman and 22-year-old Mark Stone.

"The combination of energy is the big thing for them," coach Paul MacLean said. "They all have speed and they have pretty good minds that process the game. They bring us a lot of energy when we play them together and on the road we think we're going to need that."

The Senators will also get 24-year-old Alex Chiasson back after missing three games with a foot injury. Chiasson, who has three goals and seven points in 11 games, was excited to get back in against Canucks coach Willie Desjardins, who coached Chiasson when they were in the Dallas Stars organization.

"I am eager to get back here against a guy that really helped me for my career," Chiasson said of Desjardins, who coached him his first year in the American Hockey League and was the first to call after he was traded to the Senators this summer. "I have a lot of respect for him and talked to him a little bit this morning. He really changed my career so I am really excited to show him what I can do."

Colin Greening will come out of the lineup for Chiasson, a move that MacLean said was "hard to do." But it beats the alternative facing the Canucks, who returned from a measuring stick four-game road trip with six points in the standings and four players out of the lineup.

Top-line right wing Radim Vrbata, top-four defenseman Luca Sbisa, third-line right wing Zack Kassian and fourth-line left wing Derek Dorsett were all hurt during the trip and none skated Tuesday.

"It's always a day-by-day evaluation," Desjardins said of their status. "But I think if they were ready we would have had them out skating."

That means the Canucks are sticking with the lineup that defeated the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 in a shootout Sunday. That included the NHL debut for 26-year-old Brandon DeFazio, who rushed to Anaheim after playing the previous two nights for Utica in the AHL.

"It was almost a blessing in disguise the way it went because I didn't have time to think about things," DeFazio said. "All of a sudden you were in warm up and playing an NHL game and it's like, 'How did this happen?' That eased the nerves. I'm not sure it's really sunk in yet."

Here are the projected lineups:


Clarke MacArthurKyle TurrisBobby Ryan

Milan MichalekMika ZibanejadAlex Chiasson

Mike HoffmanCurtis LazarMark Stone

Zack SmithDavid LegwandChris Neil

Chris PhillipsErik Karlsson

Jared CowenCody Ceci

Mark BorowieckiEric Gryba

Craig Anderson

Robin Lehner

Scratched: Erik Condra, Patrick Wiercioch, Colin Greening

Injured: Marc Methot (back/hip)


Daniel SedinHenrik SedinJannik Hansen

Chris HigginsNick BoninoAlexandre Burrows

Shawn MatthiasBrad RichardsonNicklas Jensen

Brandon DeFazioBo HorvatLinden Vey

Alexander EdlerChristopher Tanev

Dan HamhuisKevin Bieksa

Ryan StantonYannick Weber

Ryan Miller

Eddie Lack

Injured: Zack Kassian (lower body), Radim Vrbata (undisclosed), Luca Sbisa (undisclosed), Derek Dorsett (undisclosed)

Status report: Methot, who has yet to play this season, skated with teammates Tuesday for the first time since a reported back injury, but MacLean said he would not return before the end of November. "It's a good sign to have him out there and that's what we wanted to do was give him a little bit of energy and a positive thing for him because skating on your own is no fun," MacLean said. "[But] he looks like he hasn't skated in two months."

Who's hot: Bonino has three goals and an assist in his past four games and scored the shootout winner in his first game against his old team Sunday. All 13 of Bonino's points have come 5-on-5, tying him for the third most in the League in that category. … Anderson is 2-0-2 in his past four starts, including a shutout and .981 save percentage in the past three games.

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