The Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks are both hovering around the .500 mark as the regular season approaches the one-quarter pole - but only one of the teams is happy about it. The Senators look for their fourth consecutive victory Sunday night as they visit the stumbling Canucks at Rogers Arena. Ottawa has looked sensational on its three-game jaunt through western Canada, posting convincing victories over the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers to improve to 3-1 on its six-game road trip. The Senators face a Vancouver team that is coming off an ugly 5-1 home loss to the Chicago Blackhawks that dropped it back to the .500 mark for the season. The Canucks have dominated the head-to-head series since the 2004-05 lockout, winning seven of eight meetings - including all four in Vancouver.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, Rogers Sportsnet East, Rogers Sportsnet Pacific
ABOUT THE SENATORS (10-9-1): Erik Karlsson may only be 21, but he has already emerged as one of the top power-play quarterbacks in the league. The third-year defenseman is having a sensational season to date, tied with Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin for the NHL lead in assists. His nine power-play helpers are second among blue liners, and he sits alone atop the defensemen scoring table with 18 points in 20 games.
ABOUT THE CANUCKS (9-9-1): Vancouver has its own man-advantage specialist, and he isn’t much older than Karlsson. Alexander Edler, 25, has been sensational so far for the Canucks, registering 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) in 19 games. He’s tied with Karlsson in power-play assists and has already registered five multi-point efforts this season. He has a goal, an assist and a plus-five rating in five career games against the Senators.
1. Vancouver won both meetings with Ottawa last season, outscoring the Senators 10-4. Ottawa hasn’t won in Vancouver since March 13, 2004.
2. Ryan Kesler is still struggling to find his form of last season. A 41-goal scorer in 2010-11, the 26-year-old has just two goals in 14 games to date.
3. Cory Schneider will start in goal for Vancouver. He has never faced Ottawa in his career.
PREDICTION: Senators 4, Canucks 2. Ottawa is playing some of the best hockey in the league right now, while Vancouver is still trying to find its form.