Samuelsson, Canucks keep Sens skidding
Rogers Arena, Vancouver
Mikael Samuelsson is making up for a recent scoring slump.
Samuelsson scored two goals, including the winner, and added an assist Monday as the Vancouver Canucks beat the woeful Ottawa Senators 4-2 for their sixth straight victory.
Samuelsson's goal at 2:12 of the second period gave Vancouver a 3-0 lead. He then added a second goal with Senators goalie Brian Elliott lifted for a sixth attacker as Ottawa pressed for the tying goal.
Samuelsson now has 11 points in the last six games after enduring a 14-game goal drought.
"You've got to stick with it," he said. "It's not going to go your way all the time.
"[A slump is] good, sometimes. You stay humble and you really have to bear down and remind yourself what [worked] in the past. That's what everybody has to do when they battle a little bit."
Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler struck quickly for Vancouver in a first period where the Canucks were outshot 12-5.
Nick Foligno and Jason Spezza drew the Senators to within a goal in the second period.
Canucks defenceman Keith Ballard suffered a knee injury early in Monday's game, forcing him to leave the game.
Ballard's right leg twisted as he fell awkwardly as he was pulled down by Senators winger Milan Michalek in the first three minutes. The defenceman lay writhing in pain holding his leg, then headed straight for the Vancouver dressing room and did not return.
After the Canucks won 4-2, coach Alain Vigneault confirmed that Ballard injured his knee and will be evaluated further Tuesday.
"He'll have an MRI and we'll know more then," Vigneault said.
The injury continues a hard-luck first season for Ballard, who was acquired last summer in a trade from the Florida Panthers. The 29-year-old native of Baudette, Minn., has been limited to 43 games because of a concussion, sickness and inconsistent play that resulted in him being a healthy scratch.
Despite the loss, the struggling Senators showed some fight against the NHL's top team. Daniel Alfredsson missed the net after Foligno centred the puck late in the third period, and Alex Kovalev was thwarted by Canuck defender Dan Hamhuis during a goalmouth scramble.
Vancouver improved to 35-10-9 and have a four-point cushion over Philadelphia for league bragging rights.
The Senators, who have only one victory in their last 17 starts, lost their tenth straight game and fell to 17-29-8. Ottawa hasn't won in Vancouver since 2004.
"It's a broken record," Senators head coach Cory Clouston said of the latest setback.
"We played well. I don't know how many games we've lost by a goal or an empty-net goal."
Elliott, who lost his previous 12 starts and was lifted after giving up three first-period goals in Saturday's 5-3 road loss to the New York Islanders, had a rough start.
Burrows and Kesler scored one minute 10 seconds apart in an opening period dominated by the Senators.
Burrows took Henrik Sedin's pass in traffic and reached across Elliott's crease to push the puck past the netminder's stick.
Kesler scored his team-leading 31st goal on Vancouver's fifth and last shot of the period. He came down the right wing and blasted a puck off the post, then scored on a shot off the left wing that deflected past Elliott off a defender.
The Canucks were down to four defencemen at one point.
Keith Ballard was helped off the ice with a leg injury and did not return after he became entangled behind the Canuck net with Senators forward Milan Michalek.
Aaron Rome was assessed an instigator minor and a misconduct after a fight with Chris Neil after the Ottawa winger knocked Henrik Sedin to the ice.
Kesler was the architect of Samuelsson's goal that gave Vancouver a 3-0 lead.
He broke his stick on a clearing attempt, kicked the puck to Mason Raymond, got Jannik Hansen's stick from the bench, took Raymond's return pass and fed Samuelsson for a tap-in.
"I just think Jannik was on his toes there and noticed I needed a right-handed shot and we don't have too many," Kesler said. "He should get a half an assist."
Spezza, playing his second game after missing 15 with a shoulder injury, set up one goal and scored the second as the Canucks clung to a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes.
His pass from the side boards found Foligno in the slot and his backhand beat Canuck netminder Roberto Luongo.
Less than two minutes later, Spezza found himself leading a three-on-none break after Hamhuis couldn't block Chris Phillips' outlet pass.
Luongo made the initial save but Spezza chipped the rebound over him. Sergei Gonchar, on a power play, and Michalek, short-handed, hit goalposts before the period ended.