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Senators stop Canucks in Heritage Classic
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Cody Ceci is a specialist: He only scores game-winning goals.
"That's all I'm good for I guess," the Ottawa Senators defenseman said after scoring the winner in a 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday afternoon.
The game, played next door to the Canucks home ice at Rogers Arena at BC Place Stadium, was billed as an outdoor Heritage Classic.
Rain caused the roof to be closed, there's scant heritage that the Senators and Canucks share and it wasn't exactly a classic, but 54,194 fans didn't seem to mind, at least until Ottawa center Colin Greening iced things with an insurance goal with 1:33 to play.
Ceci, an Ottawa native who played his junior hockey for the Ottawa 67s and who was chosen 15th overall by the Senators in the 2012 NHL entry draft, scored in his fourth NHL game after he was called up from the minors, an overtime goal that gave Ottawa a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues.
The 20-year-old 6-foot-3, 215-pound defenseman's family flew to Vancouver for the game to see him score his second NHL goal.
"Colin has a flair for the dramatic," Senators center and captain Jason Spezza said. "That's a good quality in a young player."
The Canucks jumped up 2-0 early, with goals from defenseman Jason Garrison on the power play and right winger Zack Kassian off a turnover by Norris Trophy defenseman Erik Karlsson 11:27 into the game.
But Ottawa made it even with goals from left winger Clarke MacArthur and, atoning for his earlier giveaway, Karlsson just 48 seconds apart late in the period.
It stayed 2-2 until Ceci scored halfway through the third period and Vancouver couldn't draw even again against the Senators, who have given up the third-most goals this season.
"We had a two-goal lead and we started to relax and play their kind of game," said Vancouver center and captain Henrik Sedin. "We should have won with a two-goal lead.
"We had a great opening 10 minutes, then let it slip."
Sedin's left winger and twin brother Daniel left the game after being hit head-first into the end boards by Ottawa defenseman Mark Methot five minutes into the second period and did not return.
"I didn't see any more than you did," Henrik Sedin said when asked how serious his brother's injury is.
The Canucks coaching staff said they didn't know either, not having had time to talk to the club's medical trainer.
It's the latest strike in a futility-filled 2014 for the Sedins, both former NHL scoring champions.
Neither has scored this calendar year, Henrik being held goalless for the past 19 games, Daniel for 22.
Neither has had even an assist since Jan. 21.
Now both have to deal with injuries -- Henrik saw his iron-man streak end at 679 games after injuring his ribs on Jan. 19, an injury that kept him from competing at the Olympics.
And now Daniel may be lost for awhile.
Meanwhile their usual right winger, Alex Burrows, hasn't scored at all in an injury-plagued 31-game season to date.
And just to stir the pot, another goaltender controversy is rearing its head in a market one former general manager called a "goalie graveyard."
Canucks coach John Tortorella defended his decision to start rookie Eddie Lack for the third straight game since the Olympic break, sitting Olympian Roberto Luongo, who last started an NHL game on Feb. 8.
"I have two real good (goalies) here," Tortorella said, adding he was well aware of the goalie controversy Luongo went through last year along with the since-traded Cory Schneider. "I know what goes on around this, I get it. Lui is (upset), he's proud, I like that. But I can't (make lineup decision) to make people happy."
With the win, the Senators (27-23-11) kept pace with the six other teams fighting for the final two playoffs spots in the Eastern Conference.
The Canucks (28-25-10) entered the game as one of four teams separated by a point in the fight for eighth place, but the other three teams all have games in hand over Vancouver.
NOTES: It is a slim historical thread that ties Ottawa and Vancouver together in heritage. The Vancouver Millionaires, champions of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, swept the visiting Ottawa Senators, champions of the eastern-based National Hockey Association, 3-0 to win the 1915 Stanley Cup. The Millionaires, led by Fred "Cyclone" Taylor, scored 26 goals over the three games. ... Since 1915, Vancouver has appeared in three Stanley Cup finals, twice going seven games, but 1915 remains the city's lone Stanley Cup win. Ottawa has won four Cups since 1915. ... When former Canucks captain Mark Messier appeared on a snowmobile commercial on the giant video screen before the game, he was loudly booed. The Canucks failed to make the playoffs in Messier's three years with the club in the late 1990s, for which he was paid $20 million. ... Twin sisters Tegan and Sara of Vancouver performed between periods, while Vancouverite Sarah McLachlan sang "O Canada" before the game.