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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."

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

rebound.

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.

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