|VAN||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||2|
|OTT||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||1|
Despite missing one of their best players to injury, the Ottawa Senators are playing their best hockey this season.
In a matchup between two of the league's hottest teams, Ottawa looks for its sixth win in a row when it hosts the Vancouver Canucks, who have won nine of their last 10 overall.
Ottawa (27-19-2) is 10-1-1 in its last 12 games to rise from last place in the Northeast to second, one point ahead of Montreal. What makes the Senators' resurgence more remarkable is they've done it without Jason Spezza.
Spezza has not played since a 4-2 loss to Tampa Bay on Dec. 21, and is out indefinitely with a knee injury. Selected second overall by Ottawa in 2001, Spezza had 19 goals in 36 games this season to match his output in 68 games last season.
Though they've been playing without Spezza, Ottawa still has Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson in the lineup. Heatley leads the Senators with 28 goals and 34 assists, while Alfredsson is second with 48 points.
Alfredsson had a short-handed goal and an assist, Heatley added an assist and Comrie scored twice in Ottawa's 5-2 win over Washington on Tuesday.
"I think the biggest thing that we're doing right now as a team is we're playing smart and capitalizing on our opportunities," Comrie said. "When you play hard every night, it's hard to play against you."
The Senators haven't won six straight since Nov. 17-29, 2005, and will travel to play division rival Boston on Saturday in their final game before the All-Star break.
"We knew how important this homestretch was," Alfredsson said. "You have to make the most of it and, so far, we've done that. Hopefully we can finish off with two more wins before the (All-Star) break to really put ourselves in good position."
The Canucks (26-19-1) seek to win six straight road games for the first time since an eight-game run from Dec. 20, 2003-Jan. 13, 2004. They continued their current streak with a 4-0 win over slumping Montreal on Tuesday.
Roberto Luongo, scheduled to start for the Western Conference at Wednesday's All-Star game in Dallas, made 30 saves for his third shutout of the season. He spent Monday night after being in the intensive care unit of a Montreal hospital as a precaution after taking Daniel Sedin's soft wrist shot in the throat during practice.
"I felt a little nauseous in the first period, but I kind of settled in afterward," Luongo, a Montreal native, said. "If I feel that I can play and contribute to the team, I want to be in there, and that's the bottom line."
Luongo is 5-0-0 with a 1.20 goals-against average in his last five road games, and will be looking for only his third win in nine games at Ottawa if he gets the start.
Josh Green, Lukas Krajicek, Ryan Kesler and Jan Bulis scored for Vancouver in the win over the Canadiens.
The Canucks face Eastern Conference-leading Buffalo on Friday in their final game heading into the break.
"We've been playing really well, especially since the holidays," Luongo said. "We just have to keep doing what we're doing, especially on the road. We're playing as a team and every game is important."
|Jan 18 '07||VAN 2 at OTT 1||R. Fitzpatrick|