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The Vancouver Canucks lead the NHL in penalties and they hope it doesn't contribute to many more losses.

The struggling Canucks look to avoid a third consecutive defeat when they host the last-place Ottawa Senators for the first time in a little more than three years on Sunday night.

Vancouver (19-14-3) allowed two power-play goals for the third straight game and lost 3-2 at home to Edmonton on Friday for its third defeat in four contests.

Though very much in the Western Conference playoff picture, the Canucks' 718 penalty minutes are by far the most in the league. They have allowed their opponents to convert on six of their last 16 power-play chances over the last three games and are 4-6-0 when giving up at least two goals while short-handed.

"It's an issue that obviously has hurt us since the beginning of the year and that we are trying to address with our core group, and for our sake hopefully we find a solution to it soon," coach Alain Vigneault told the Canucks' official Web site.

Vancouver allowed the Oilers to go 2-for-5 with the man-advantage Friday and score all their goals in the second period before the Canucks got on the board.

"We're finding ourselves in way too many situations like that and it is showing up on the scoreboard," said Curtis Sanford, who made 20 saves in falling to 6-6-0 with a 2.62 goals-against average. "It's not a lack of effort (that we are taking penalties)."

Mason Raymond scored for the second time in three contests and Kyle Wellwood added a goal while Alex Edler had a pair of assists for the Canucks, who snapped a goal drought that stretched over three games and lasted 103 minutes.

Though Sanford has played in five straight games and lost his only meeting against Ottawa, Corey Schneider could get the start as the two continue to share time with captain Roberto Luongo sidelined since Nov. 22 with a groin injury. Schneider is 2-3-1 with a 3.60 GAA this season and has never faced Ottawa.

Vancouver won 3-2 in a shootout over the Senators at home on Dec. 9, 2005 and 2-1 at Ottawa on Jan. 18, 2007 in the teams most recent meeting.

Ottawa (12-16-5) lost 6-3 at Calgary on Saturday for its second straight loss to open 0-2 on its season-high eight-game road stretch. It was the second straight game the Senators allowed six goals.

"We're obviously not happy where we are right now, but I thought we played a pretty decent hockey game aside from a couple of breakdowns," said forward Jason Spezza, who scored his 14th goal to give him two and two assists in his last three games.

Alex Auld has been in net in both games on the road trip and has allowed five goals in losing each of his last four starts for Ottawa, which has been outscored 25-14 in losing four of its last five.

Martin Gerber could get the start Sunday after winning two of his last three starts. He is 3-6-1 with a 2.69 GAA on the season and 1-2-0 with a tie and a 2.16 GAA versus Vancouver.

Ottawa defenseman Chris Phillips will try to record a goal in his third straight contest while looking to extend his point streak to six games.

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