ALSO ON SLAM!
Thursday, December 16, 1999
Senators 2, CANUCKS 1
Sens hang on in Vancouver
VANCOUVER (CP) -- Three of their top players returned to the lineup on Thursday night, but the struggling Vancouver Canucks still couldn't get back into the win column.
Joe Juneau and Shawn McEachern each scored once and Ron Tugnutt made 21 saves, losing his shutout bid with 28 seconds left in regulation, in a 2-1 victory by the Ottawa Senators.
The Canucks were playing with captain Mark Messier for the first time since Nov. 9 when he injured a knee, star forward Alexander Mogilny, who went down with a back injury Nov. 26, and defenceman Adrian Aucoin, who missed four games with a groin pull.
"Tonight was the perfect opportunity to create some goals, but we were a little bit off," said Messier, who played just over 22 minutes and collected an assist on Vancouver's lone goal, by Aucoin.
"It's a tough team to play from behind against. They really play that system extremely well, especially when they get the lead. When we got behind, it was especially hard to penetrate."
During the rash of injuries, the Canucks spiralled from third in the Western Conference to ninth place. Vancouver has mustered only one win in its last 12 games (1-7-3-1) and drops to 11-14-7-2 overall.
Vancouver has mustered one win and three ties in its last 12 games, dropping from third in the Western Conference to ninth.
"We've had a tough month," said Messier. "I felt we were a little hesitant, playing a little too cautious as compared to when I left six weeks ago.
"It's up to myself and Alex and a few players to instill that confidence back in the team. Tonight, I had a few opportunities to do that but I just couldn't get one in the net."
Tugnutt, who has allowed just three goals in his last four games, had a relatively easy time between the pipes. Aucoin beat him through a screen with the Canucks using an extra skater in the final minute.
"We didn't need the shutout to win so it wasn't that big of deal," said Tugnutt, who has 13 career shutouts. "Shutouts aren't that important but it would have been nice."
Ottawa, 2-0-2 in its last four games, outshot Vancouver 27-22.
Juneau opened the scoring 7:47 into the game when he let loose a wrist shot from just inside the left faceoff circle that beat goalie Garth Snow, screened by defenceman Murray Barron.
The Senators took a two-goal lead on a power play less than six minutes later when Patrick Traverse fed McEachern, who squeezed past two defenceman and also beat Snow.
Ottawa then played to protect the lead, holding Vancouver to five shots the second period.
"They (the Canucks) had a few chances but they were passing up a lot of shots," said Tugnutt. "They had some 2-on-1s and 3-on-1s but they didn't shoot the puck.
"They were in good scoring positions and they tried to make the nice pass across but our D-men were doing a fantastic job of blocking them. I think they could have shot the puck more tonight."
The Senators ended a six-game, power-play drought (0-for-21) by going 1-for-3 with the man advantage. The Canucks were 0-for-4.
Ottawa has allowed only one power-play goal in its last eight games.
"We did a good job penalty killing," said Ottawa coach Jacques Martin.
"Our power play was good. We kind of needed that. I think it was a real boost for our power play. We've been in a drought for a long time."