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Canucks look to continue offensive tear vs. Senators

by Brian Hunter
CANUCKS (17-10-1) at SENATORS (13-12-4)


Last 10:
Vancouver 8-2-0; Ottawa 4-3-3

Season series:
Second and final meeting of the 2011-12 season between these Canadian rivals. The Canucks pulled out a 2-1 overtime win in Vancouver on Nov. 20 as Chris Higgins scored 2:18 into the extra period. Henrik Sedin had a power-play goal in regulation, while Colin Greening had the only tally for the Senators.

Big story: If it's gone unnoticed because of the tear NHL-leading Minnesota has been on, Vancouver has quietly rounded into form and once again resembles the team that won last season's Presidents' Trophy and came within 60 minutes of capturing the Stanley Cup. The Canucks bring a three-game winning streak into Saturday's action and have moved into sixth in the Western Conference standings, while still trailing the Wild by six points for the Northwest Division lead.

Team Scope:

Canucks: The offense has been producing in spades for Vancouver ever since its previous meeting with Ottawa. In the eight games since, the Canucks have scored 34 non-shootout goals and had at least three in every game. They needed that many to erase a 3-0 deficit in Montreal on Thursday night, as Mason Raymond's shorthanded goal in the second started the rally before Cody Hodgson connected in the third and Sami Salo tied the score on a power play with 4:40 left. Hodgson then netted the only goal in a shootout as the Canucks claimed a 4-3 victory.

"Coming from behind is not easy in the NHL," coach Alain Vigneault said. "Making up two goals in the third is tough, three goals in the game is even tougher. When I heard people starting to chant 'Na, na, na' at the start of the third, I told myself it might be a good time to get this done."

Senators: Was the glass half full or half empty for Ottawa in its 5-4 shootout loss in New Jersey on Thursday? On the one hand, the Senators failed to pick up two points on a night when they led 3-0 before giving up a pair of shorthanded goals to spark a Devils' comeback. However, after falling behind 4-3 and finding themselves shorthanded in the waning seconds of the game, they managed to earn a point when Jesse Winchester scored off a rebound with five ticks left on the clock.

"It was two games in one by the end of the night," coach Paul MacLean said in the Ottawa Sun. "We were full marks for the lead we did have. We played well and attacked their net, but I thought our power play let us down a lot. Those shorthanded goals gave the momentum and they built off of that."

Who's hot:
Jannik Hansen has 4 goals and 1 assist during a four-game points streak for the Canucks. Henrik Sedin has 7 assists during his own four-game points streak. … Milan Michalek scored his League-leading 18th goal Thursday, his sixth in as many games. Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson has 2 goals and 5 assists in the last six games.

Injury report:
Higgins is doubtful for this rematch due to a staph infection in his foot. Vancouver also recently lost David Booth for 4-6 weeks with a knee sprain. … Ottawa lost defenseman Sergei Gonchar during Thursday's game to an upper-body injury. It's expected defenseman Matt Carkner, who had been out with a knee injury and was recently recalled after an AHL conditioning assignment, will return for Saturday's game.

Stat pack:
Prior to their rally Thursday, the Canucks had been 0-9-1 this season in games where they trailed by multiple goals. … Michalek's career high for goals in a season is 26 for the Sharks in 2006-07, when he also set a personal best with 66 points. He's already matched his goal total in 66 games with the Senators last season.

Puck drop: "I needed a game or two there just to get back into the feel of things," the 31-year-old Carkner told the Senators' official website about his stint down in Binghamton. "It's been awhile since I played and I was seeing how my body would respond. But after the first period, I fit in nicely and started to feel the game a little bit more.

"It's a confidence thing, knowing you can make plays, and it's hockey. I've played it my whole life and just getting back into that feeling definitely made it worth going down there."

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