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Sports Network
1/19/2007 10:42:23 AM


(Sports Network) - One of the hottest teams in the Western Conference will take on the best club in the East tonight, as the Vancouver Canucks visit the Buffalo Sabres at HSBC Arena.

The Canucks, who lead the Northwest Division with 55 points, have won three straight and 10 of their last 11 games. Buffalo has 68 points, seven more than its closest competitor (New Jersey) in the Eastern Conference standings.

Vancouver turned in its latest triumph Thursday evening in Ottawa, cooling off the red-hot Senators with a 2-1 decision. Roberto Luongo stopped 34 shots as the Canucks snapped Ottawa's five-game winning streak.

Ottawa outshot Vancouver 35-14, but the Senators were undone by two freak bounces that produced goals for Taylor Pyatt and Rory Fitzpatrick. The first goal was a slapshot that deflected of Pyatt's skate and into the net, while Fitzpatrick's tally caromed off an Ottawa defenseman.

As for Luongo, he allowed one goal or less for the third consecutive contest. The goaltender's first year in Vancouver has been a big success, and he will start Wednesday's All-Star Game for the Western Conference. Buffalo's Ryan Miller will be the starting netminder for the Eastern Conference.

The Canucks, who are 12-11-1 as the away team this year, cap a four-game road trip tonight. After this evening, Vancouver will not play again until after the All-Star break, as it opens a four-game homestand next Friday against Los Angeles.

The Sabres snapped a three-game losing streak Wednesday against Boston and will try to keep headed in the right direction tonight.

Buffalo handed the visiting Bruins a 6-3 setback in the finale of the home- and-home series. Brian Campbell scored the go-ahead marker in the third period and Miller made 25 saves for the Sabres.

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