OTTAWA – The goals keep going in for Jason Spezza and the wins keep piling up for the Ottawa Senators.
Spezza scored the game-winner and extended his team-record goal-scoring streak to eight games as the Senators beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 on Thursday night. The win also stretched Ottawa’s franchise-record winning streak to 11 before a crowd of 18,803 at Scotiabank Place.
“We’re playing a good structure, we’re playing with confidence,” said Spezza. “We were ready for these guys.”
Brian Elliott stopped 29 shots to break his own team mark with his ninth win in a row and hand the Canucks their second consecutive defeat.
Elliott’s teammates gave him some offensive support early on when Milan Michalek beat surprise Canucks starter Andrew Raycroft on the power play just 94 seconds in and Michalek later drew an assist on Spezza’s goal that put Ottawa in front 2-0 after the first period.
Chris Kelly added an empty-netter late and Daniel Alfredsson had three assists for the Senators (33-21-4), who halted a four-game slide against the Canucks dating back to March 13, 2004.
“We got the puck in deep, we were able to create a lot of chances from our cycles and really put them on their heels,” Alfredsson said of an opening period in which the Canucks were outshot 11-3.
“That set the tone for the rest of the game.”
Kyle Wellwood scored a late power-play goal for the Canucks (34-20-2), who were coming off a 3-2 loss at Montreal on Tuesday that snapped their own seven-game win streak.
The Senators – and particularly the defensive pairing of Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov – did a good job of shutting down arguably the NHL’s top line of Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows, which finished the night a combined minus-4.
“They’re well known around the league to be a good defensive pair. These are the matchups we’re going to see pretty much every night, so we’ve got to do a better job for sure,” said Henrik Sedin.
Spezza, who had a pair of goals in Ottawa’s 4-2 win in Buffalo 24 hours earlier, has scored in all six games since returning to the lineup after missing 20 with a knee injury. He also scored in his previous two games before getting hurt.
With the victory, the Senators moved within a point of the idle Sabres for the Northeast Division lead. Buffalo has three games in hand.
The one setback for the Senators was the loss of rookie defenceman Erik Karlsson to an upper-body injury late in the second period.
Karlsson was caught by an open-ice hit from Ryan Kesler and appeared to injure his shoulder on the play. He didn’t return and an update on his status is likely to come Friday.
Raycroft finished with 18 saves for the Canucks, who were playing the third contest of their NHL-record 14-game road trip.
“It’s our job to get up (for the game) and, for whatever reason, we just didn’t have it tonight,” said Canucks centre Ryan Kesler.
With the Senators coming into the game as the league’s second-hottest team behind the Washington Capitals, it was something of a surprise to see him given the start in place of Luongo, who allowed three goals on 28 shots in Montreal.
Although Raycroft beat Toronto on Saturday in the opening game of the road trip, he was making just his third start in the last 27 games.
Things didn’t start well for him when Mikael Samuelsson took an early high-sticking penalty and Michalek redirected a pass from Alex Kovalev on Ottawa’s second shot of the game.
Raycroft, seeking his 100th career victory, had to make several strong saves as the Senators continued to press through the first. Spezza made it 2-0 late in the period when he and Michalek broke in 2-on-1 and what looked like an attempted pass managed to slip across the goal line.
However, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said Raycroft wasn’t to blame for the defeat.
“Goaltending wasn’t an issue today,” he said. “Ottawa jumped on us and that’s why they won the game.
‘With this group – and I know the group well – you’d have thought they would want to get back into (winning), but, obviously, I misread the situation.”
The Canucks didn’t push Elliott – who won eight straight games from March 5-21, 2009 – until the second wore on. His best saves didn’t come until just before the horn sounded to end the period when Steve Bernier broke in alone, but was denied on his initial shot and the rebound.
Wellwood broke Elliott’s bid for a shutout with less than two minutes remaining when he scored with Volchenkov off for slashing, but Kelly put the game out of reach with an empty-netter for the Senators.
“Give them a lot of credit,” Raycroft said. “They came out hard and had a whole lot more pace than we did.”
Notes: Senators defenceman Chris Phillips appeared in his 839th career game Thursday, moving him past Wade Redden for second place all-time in team history. … The Canucks travel to Boston to face the Bruins on Saturday. … Ottawa will try to make it 12 straight wins in Toronto that same night. … The Senators improved to 21-8-3 at home. … The Senators didn’t make any changes from the lineup that beat the Sabres in Buffalo on Wednesday, meaning right-winger Shean Donovan and defenceman Alexandre Picard were again healthy scratches. … Left-winger Darcy Hordichuk and blue-liner Brad Lukowich were scratched from the Canucks’ lineup.