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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, February 4th (All times eastern)

Vancouver Canucks (34-19-2) at Ottawa Senators (32-21-4), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Vancouver Canucks may be on quite a run, but it's nothing like the one being put together by the Ottawa Senators, who'll be attempting to extend their franchise-best winning streak to 11 games in tonight's showdown between the two teams from Scotiabank Place.

Ottawa kept up its current tear with last night's 4-2 road victory over rival Buffalo, a win that moved the club within three points of the Sabres' lead atop the Northeast Division. The Senators haven't tasted defeat since a 6-1 setback at Atlanta on January 12.

Daniel Alfredsson scored with just one minute remaining in regulation to snap a 2-2 deadlock, and the Sens captain added an empty-net tally to seal Wednesday's triumph. Jason Spezza also notched a pair of goals for Ottawa, helping to back a 34-save performance from netminder Brian Elliott.

Spezza has now scored at least once in all five contests since returning from a knee problem that kept him out for over a month, and the standout center has amassed eight goals and one assist during a seven-game stretch that began prior to the injury. Alfredsson has put up 13 points (7 goals, 6 assists) in nine outings since making his way back from a separated shoulder on January 16.

Elliott has played a huge role in Ottawa's surge as well. The 24-year-old has started the team's last eight tilts and recorded a sensational 1.24 goals against average and a .957 save percentage over that span. His eight consecutive wins tied a Senators record.

"Els has been phenomenal," Spezza told the Senators' official site after Wednesday's win. "He was probably the reason why we won. He kept us in that game."

Vancouver moved to the top of the Northwest Division by ripping off seven straight victories from January 16-30, but that streak was halted with a 3-2 loss at Montreal on Tuesday. The Canucks were done in by a stellar showing by Canadiens goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who racked up 45 saves and stopped 19- of-20 shots in the third period.

"I thought it was a hard-fought game by both teams," said Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault. "The best on the ice was their goaltender. He kept the puck out and that's why they won."

Roberto Luongo wasn't quite as sharp between the pipes for Vancouver, with the All-Star backstop turning aside 25-of-28 chances. Mikael Samuelsson and Ryan Kesler had the goals for Vancouver, while defenseman Sami Salo notched two assists in his first game back from a groin strain that had kept him out of four straight contests.

Tuesday's loss came in the second matchup of what will be an NHL-record stretch of 14 consecutive road games for Vancouver, necessitated by the city's hosting of the upcoming Winter Olympics. The Canucks opened the epic swing with a 5-3 win at Toronto on Saturday.

Vancouver looks to bounce back tonight against an Ottawa squad it's been able to handle in years past. The Canucks have won four straight and six of the last seven meetings in this series, and have come out on top in each of their last three trips to Scotiabank Place.

The Senators' last win over the Canucks was a 2-1 decision in Vancouver on March 13, 2004.

02/04 10:45:08 ET

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