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Senators, Canucks square off in Heritage Classic
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Ottawa Senators have had trouble beating the Vancouver Canucks for the past few seasons under normal circumstances.
On Sunday afternoon, the Sens look to snap a six-game series slide to the Canucks as the two teams participate in the 2014 Heritage Classic at BC Place and the final outdoor game of this regular season.
Both the Canucks and Senators are making their NHL outdoor debuts and are set to become the 17th and 18th clubs to play a regular-season game under the sky. They will do so at the home of the CFL's B.C. Lions, a venue that features the world's largest cable-supported retractable roof.
While the franchises are new comers to the spotlight of playing outdoors, both head coaches have taken part in prior events. Vancouver's John Tortorella was the bench boss of the New York Rangers in the 2012 Winter Classic, while Ottawa's Paul MacLean was an assistant with the Detroit Red Wings during the 2009 Winter Classic.
"I was fortunate enough to play in one in Philly and it's a neat process," said Tortorella. "I think it's fun for the guys. I think it's great for our game. I hope there are some good stories that come out of it."
This is the third installment of the Heritage Classic, which premiered back on Nov. 22, 2003 when the Montreal Canadiens bested the hosting Edmonton Oilers. That was also the NHL's first ever regular-season game outdoors.
The Heritage Classic returned in 2011, when the Calgary Flames topped the Canadiens.
The Canucks have won six straight and 12 of their last 14 meetings with the Senators, who they haven't lost to since Feb. 4, 2010 in Ottawa.
Vancouver has won five straight at home in this series as well since a setback on March 13, 2004.
The Canucks picked up a 5-2 victory in Ottawa on Nov. 28, a game highlighted by Daniel Sedin's 300th career goal. Sedin, David Booth, Jason Garrison and Mike Santorelli all had a goal and an assist for Vancouver, while Roberto Luongo made 37 saves.
Craig Anderson surrendered the first four Canucks goals on 15 shots before being replaced by Robin Lehner in the decisive stanza.
The Senators come in having lost two straight and four of their past six (2-3-1), including a 6-1 setback to the Red Wings on Thursday. Bobby Ryan had a goal in Ottawa's first game following the Olympic break, while Lehner yielded six goals on 15 shots before getting pulled in the second period.
"They got a few goals pretty fast and it snowballed," Lehner said. "I think we all have to do better in our zone and I have to do better."
Andrew Hammond made his NHL debut in relief and stopped all 11 shots he faced. He was recalled to serve as the backup with Anderson back at home in Florida to be with his wife for the birth of their second child, a boy born on Tuesday.
Hammond has since been returned to the minors and Anderson will start this game. However, he is just 3-11-1 with a 3.55 goals against average and .880 save percentage in his career versus the Canucks.
Ottawa opens a four-game road trip five points back of Detroit for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, while Vancouver is tied with Dallas and Winnipeg for the second bonus playoff berth in the West.
The Canucks snapped a seven-game slide with a win over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday, then dropped a 2-1 shootout decision to the Minnesota Wild on Friday.
Eddie Lack turned aside the first six skaters he faced in the shootout before Minnesota's Justin Fontaine finally beat him in the seventh round for the lone tally of the tiebreaker.
Fontaine faked a shot and slid the puck through the five-hole of Lack. Booth had a chance to keep the Canucks in the game, but Darcy Kuemper stood tall and denied Booth's spin-o-rama attempt to seal the win.
Ryan Kesler scored in his return to the lineup after sitting out Wednesday's game against St. Louis with a hand injury, while Lack stopped 22 shots in defeat.
"I'm really happy with some of the structure I saw in this game," Tortorella said. "We have to keep on fighting."
Lack got a second straight start after shutting out St. Louis on Wednesday and while Tortorella would not name his starter for this game, reports on Saturday said Lack will get the call in net today over the veteran Luongo.
03/02 09:09:23 ET