Sanford, Canucks blank struggling Senators

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Ticker) — The Vancouver Canucks
didn’t miss captain Roberto Luongo in this one.

Curtis Sanford made 18 saves to record his first shutout of the
season, leading the Canucks to a 3-0 victory over the slumping
Ottawa Senators on Sunday.

Henrik Sedin and Pavol Demitra each scored a goal and set up
another for Vancouver, which avoided a third straight loss.

“We were ready from the first drop (of the puck),” Demitra said.
“Obviously, our biggest issue in our game is taking too many
penalties and we did a great job today and that’s how we’re
going to win games.”

Defenseman Alexander Edler also tallied and Daniel Sedin had a
pair of assists for the Canucks, who have been without Luongo
since November 19. The superstar goaltender has been sidelined
with a groin injury.

“Sandman’s been a professional the whole time here,” defenseman
Shane O’Brien said of Sanford. “He got put in a tough spot with
Luongo going down. They’re tough shoes to fill but he’s a pro
and he’s a good guy and we play hard in front of him because we
know he’s playing his guts out in net for us.”

The Senators have lost their first three contests on their
current eight-game road trip. Ottawa has been outscored by a
15-7 margin over that stretch.

“Obviously, not a great effort from us,” Senators captain Daniel
Alfredsson said. “We had a couple of chances early on and we
don’t score and give up a breakaway for them to get the lead.”

“Mistakes obviously cost us goals,” Ottawa coach Craig Hartsburg
added. “We struggled obviously to finish. Third period, I
thought at least we showed some spark – maybe that’s a good
step. It’s obviously a very frustrating time, a tough time for
this team.”

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Sanford turned aside five shots in the first period, six more in
the next and seven in the third to complete his first shutout
since January 23, 2006. It was his fifth career blanking.

“It’s been a long time since my last one, so it’s definitely a
good feeling,” Sanford said. “Can’t say enough about how the
guys played in front of me tonight, giving them only 18 shots –
pretty good offensive team over there.”

Henrik Sedin opened the scoring at 8:17 of the first session
after Demitra forced a turnover in the Senators’ zone and found
Sedin open in front of the goal. Sedin’s first attempt was
stopped by Ottawa netminder Martin Gerber, but he converted the

Demitra was set up for a breakaway by Daniel Sedin and fired a
snap shot past Gerber on the blocker side to give the Canucks a
2-0 edge with 9:44 left in the middle period.

“Those guys got so much skill and obviously we are similar
players,” Demitra said of the Sedin twins. “They played
together for many years and I just tried to fit in. They’ve got
great patience with the puck, so it’s an easy game for me.”

Edler provided the final margin, blasting a slap shot past
Gerber with 2:50 left in the second.

Gerber finished with 29 saves.