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Senators-Canucks Preview @NHLdotcom
Senators-Canucks Preview

GAME: Ottawa Senators (21-4-0) at Vancouver Canucks (17-9-2).

TIME: Friday, 10 p.m. EST.

Martin Havlat has been one reason why the Ottawa Senators have the league's best record.

The Senators now begin life without the left wing when they meet the Vancouver Canucks in the only regular-season meeting between the teams.

The Senators announced Thursday that Havlat will undergo surgery to repair a dislocated right shoulder and be sidelined for the remainder of the regular season.

"With this surgery there's a good chance that I'll be back (for the playoffs)," said Havlat, who injured the shoulder Nov. 29 against the Montreal Canadiens. "I don't want to miss the most important past of the season at the end. I'll do my best to get back because I want to have a chance to fight for the Stanley Cup."

Halvat's scoring has increased in each of his four years in the league, including a career-high 31 goals - with seven game-winners - and 37 assists in 2003-04.

Ottawa Senators general manger John Muckler said he is optimistic the Senators will continue winning without Havlat.

"I think we do have enough depth in the organization to cover for Marty while he's gone and at the same time it will give us an opportunity to look at our younger players," Muckler said.

One of those players Ottawa will look to is rookie Brandon Bochenski, who recorded his first career hat trick Monday in the Senators' 6-3 win over the Florida Panthers.

"Bochenski will get the first opportunity," Muckler said."He's played well. He showed great speed the other night. We feel that he'll be able to do the job for us. "It's sad that Marty won't be with us, but it gives others the opportunity."

The Senators still boast the best line in the league. Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley have combined for 51 goals and 74 assists.

The Canucks enter this contest having won five in a row at GM Place and are 12-1-0 there overall this season after a 5-2 win Sunday over the Boston Bruins. Brendan Morrison and Ryan Kesler scored 32 seconds apart early in the third period to snap a 2-2 tie.

Vancouver has outscored the opposition 20-8 during its home winning streak.

Canucks coach Marc Crawford said this game will be a challenge.

"You have to play well and rise to the challenge," said Vancouver coach Marc Crawford. "We have a lot of guys that recognize this is a measuring-stick game for us.

"Players are hopefully motivated to want to perform extremely well. We're the guys that are chasing them. We've got to try and compete against them at all different levels. They come into the game as the team we're trying to knock off."

"We're going to have our hands full," added defenseman Sami Salo, who spent four seasons in Ottawa before being traded to Vancouver before the 2002-03 season. "It's going to be the toughest game so far this season."

Canucks leading scorer Markus Naslund has a seven-game points streak at home, recording four goals and five assists in that span.

Naslund has three goals and an assist in his last three games against the Senators.

STANDINGS (through Dec. 8): Senators - 42 points, 1st place, Northeast Division. Canucks - 36 points, 2nd place, 2 PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Senators - Alfredsson, 21 goals; Spezza, 32 assists and 43 points; Zdeno Chara and Brian McGrattan, 72 PIM. Canucks - Naslund, 15 goals, 18 assists and 33 points; Wade Brookbank, 63 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 8): Senators - Power play: 22.7 percent (35 for 154), 2nd in NHL. Penalty killing: 86.2 percent (138 for 160), 4th. Canucks - Power play: 17.6 percent (33 for 187), 18th. Penalty killing: 82.6 percent (138 for 167), 12th (tied).

GOALTENDERS: Senators - Dominik Hasek (15-4-0, 3 SO, 1.99 GAA); Ray Emery (6-0-0, 1, 2.30). Canucks - Alex Auld (9-6-1, 0, 2.66); Robert McVicar (0-0-0, 0, 0.00).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1.

LAST MEETING: March 13, 2004; Senators 2-1. At Vancouver, British Columbia, Alfredsson scored an unassisted goal with nine minutes left for the winning goal.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Senators - 9-2-0 on the road; Canucks - 12-1-0 at home.

Associated Press
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