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Senators, Canucks ready for Heritage Classic

by Adam Kimelman

SENATORS (26-23-11) at CANUCKS (28-24-10)


Last 10: Ottawa 4-4-2; Vancouver 2-7-1

Season series: The 2014 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic marks the second and final game between the Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks this season. On Nov. 28, Daniel Sedin scored his 300th NHL goal to lead the Canucks to a 5-2 win at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa.

Big story: For teams on the outside of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the two points at stake Sunday will take priority.

"We need the two points badly right now," Canucks defenseman Jason Garrison said. "We have to keep getting points out of games the remainder of the season. It's a lot of fun and a cool experience, but we have to go into this game for a win."

"I think every game we play now is important so this one is no different than the last one," Senators coach Paul MacLean said. "So we're trying not to look past or make it bigger than it is. We know we have to win games if we want to … continue to be in the playoff hunt and this is the next one we have to play. So let's not try to make it bigger than it is, but let's make sure we come out and we compete."

Team Scope:

Senators: In its first game after the Olympic break, the Senators gave up four goals in a 7:01 span in the second half of the first period against the Detroit Red Wings en route to a 6-1 loss.

However, the players saw it as a bump in the road rather than a sign of a struggling defense.

"I can't really remember any of those goals from [Thursday] being anyone's fault, but individual breakdowns or missed assignments," forward Bobby Ryan said. "They weren't gaps in coverage or lapses, they were misreads more than anything. You make one early and then we made another one in 30 seconds and it just kind of spiraled."

Better puck management will be the key, according to coach Paul MacLean.

"We have to stop turning over the puck," he said. "We've had this bugaboo with our team a lot earlier in the season, we haven't had it lately. But when we started against Detroit the other night, the game was kind of going along pretty good and we ended up all of a sudden at 4-0. We turned the puck over three times in a row, took a penalty they scored on. In this League we understand and know good teams are going to make you pay or every team's going to make you pay. Taking care of the puck has been something that we've focused on a lot at the start of the year and it's something we continue to do. We have to make sure that we do it [Sunday]."

Canucks: After two seasons of goaltending issues that culminated with the trade of Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils, it appears the problem has returned as the Canucks announced Sunday that Eddie Lack, not Roberto Luongo, would start in goal.

It will be Lack's third straight start. Coach John Tortorella said in making the announcement that “Lack has played really well the last two games and deserves the start.”

The decision to start Lack could be a big blow to Luongo's confidence. The veteran told reporters that he circled Sunday on his calendar when he learned the Canucks would be playing in this game.

"I've always wanted to play in an outdoor game," Luongo said. "So I was excited when I saw we got one this year and I was looking forward to it."

Now his outdoor experience will be limited to sitting on the bench as Lack's backup.

"I don't want to start going through this again," Luongo said. "When I am on the ice, I give myself 100 percent. I try to be the best I can be and the rest is out of my control, so I am not going to start putting myself in a spot like that again. Whatever happens from here on in I am just going to battle, and if it's me, it's me. If it's not, it's not."

Who's hot: Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson has four points in four games and leads all NHL defensemen with 55 points. … Canucks center Ryan Kesler has goals in two straight games, giving him a team-best 21. It's the sixth time in seven seasons he's scored at least 20 goals.

Injury report: Senators forward Mark Stone (arm) is out. … Canucks defenseman Andrew Alberts (concussion) and forward Mike Santorelli (shoulder) are out.


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