Wednesday, March 21, 2012
By Mark Stepneski
Vancouver Canucks at Dallas Stars
Thursday March 22
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: KTCK-1310 (AM)
About the Stars
The Stars (40-28-5) are coming off a 4-3 shootout win over Phoenix Tuesday that kept them sitting on top of the Pacific Division and in third place in the Western Conference. The Stars weren’t entirely pleased with the effort. They gave up a 3-1 lead in the third period and gave one point to a team chasing them in the standings.
“I think we did good things but we’ve got to find ways to keep that two-goal lead and not give those guys a chance to get back into the game,” said Stars forward Michael Ryder, who scored two goals. “We made a couple mistakes, a couple turnovers that ended up in our net. We came here for two points and we got that but they got one.”
The Stars have won both games against Vancouver this season – one in overtime and one in regulation, but they aren’t taking in comfort in those two previous contests.
“Obviously one of the elite teams in the league, so we are going to have to be sharp and a lot cleaner than we were against Phoenix,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “For Phoenix not being known as a heavy offensive team, they certainly capitalized on what we gave them. If we do the same to Vancouver, they’ll do the same thing.”
Kari Lehtonen, who made 27 saves Tuesday and was 3-3 in the shootout, is expected to start in goal for Dallas.
Stars forward Jamie Benn, who took an elbow in the head from Shane Doan during Tuesday’s game and another hard hit in overtime, said he was fine on Wednesday and will play in Thursday’s game. Doan was suspended three games by the NHL Wednesday for the hit on Benn.
Injuries: D Mark Fistric (abdominal strain) is out.
About the Canucks
The Canucks (43-22-8) lost 2-1 in overtime at Chicago Wednesday night. The Canucks scored 27 seconds into the game, but Chicago tied it in the second and Andrew’s Shaw goal at 2:42 of overtime won it.
It was the Canucks’ fourth loss in the last five games (1-3-1).
The Canucks lost more than a game. They lost forward Daniel Sedin in the first period after he took an elbow to the head from Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith, who received a minor penalty for elbowing.
“Deliberate, principal point of contact, everything you are trying to take out of the game,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said when asked about Keith’s hit. “I expected a major (penalty) and got a minor.”
As for the status of Sedin, Vigneault said the team would know more on Thursday.
“We’ll re-evaluate him tomorrow,” Vigneault said. “He was taken out of the game obviously. Everybody saw the headshot there. We’ll re-evaluate tomorrow and I’ll know more from there.”
Despite the loss, the Canucks felt they had played their best game in a while. They are 3-5-3 over their last 11 games.
“This was by far our best team game in a lot of weeks,” Canucks center Henrik Sedin said. “We won games before, but we haven’t played the way we wanted to. Tonight, everyone showed up.”
Injuries: D Keith Ballard (concussion), C Andrew Ebbett (collarbone) and C Aaron Volpatti (shoulder) are out.
*This is the third of four meetings between the two teams.
*Dallas is 2-0-0 in the season series.
*The Canucks are 0-1-1 in the series.
*February 26, at Dallas: Stars 3, Canucks 2 (OT)
March 6, at Vancouver: Stars 5, Canucks 2
*The Stars are 15-4-3 since the All-Star break.
*The Canucks are 13-6-5 since the All-Star break.
*The Canucks have scored on the power play in three of their last 14 games.
*The Stars have allowed a power play goal in three of their last 14 games.
*Dallas is 12-3-0 versus the Northwest Division this season, including 7-1-0 at American Airlines Center.
*Vancouver is 7-5-4 versus the Pacific Division.
*Stars forwards Loui Eriksson, Mike Ribeiro and Michael Ryder have combined for 12 points in the season series against Vancouver this year (6 goals, 6 assists).