Dallas Stars: Vancouver Canucks

The Dallas Stars are on the outside looking in at a playoff spot for the first time in more than a month. Saturday was not a good night for the Stars. Among those Pacific Division teams battling for the third, seventh and eighth spots, they were the only team not to get points.

Their 3-0 loss to the Sharks dropped them down to ninth, one point behind the now eighth place Sharks. Tuesday is basically a must-win game for the Stars. The Sharks need the win, too. It’s not like they are out of the woods because they won Saturday.

The Kings lost in a shootout to Minnesota Saturday, but the point they picked up kept them in first in the Pacific Division. Phoenix, a 4-0 winner over Anaheim Saturday, tied the Kings at 91 points. Both teams have 33 regulation/overtime wins, so it went to the next tiebreaker, which is the head-to-head matchup. Both teams won three games, but the Kings were 3-1-2 and the Coyotes were 3-2-1 and the Kings win the series 8 points to 7 points. And people wonder why I put the records for the season series and not just the wins in game previews.

But the bottom line is the race is still tight. None of those four teams has anything secured yet and none of them is out of the picture yet. The standings have shifted a lot this past week and they can shift a lot over this final week.

Some other notes from Saturday night:

*Chicago clinched a playoff spot with a 5-4 victory over Nashville.

*Vancouver took over the top spot in the West, beating Calgary 3-2 in overtime and getting some help from Columbus, which beat St. Louis 5-2.

*The Flames, by the way, were officially eliminated from the playoff race with the OT loss to the Canucks.

There’s still a pretty good battle for that fourth seed and home ice in the first round. Detroit and Chicago both are one point behind Nashville. Detroit hosts Florida Sunday and Chicago hosts Minnesota.






For the fifth time in the last nine days there’s been a change at the top of the Pacific Division. The new leader is the Los Angeles Kings, who won 4-1 at Edmonton last night to pass the Dallas Stars. The Kings are 8-2-0 over their last 10 games.

The Kings play at Minnesota on Saturday night, so they can hold that division lead with a win -- and move one step closer to securing a playoff spot.

The game of the night in the playoff race is Dallas at San Jose. The Stars dropped to seventh after their loss in Vancouver Friday night. They have a one point lead over the Sharks, who currently sit in ninth place. It’s a huge game for both teams. It’s a chance to gain points and take away points from a team you’re battling for a playoff spot. This is the first of a home-and-home series and both teams need the points, so that makes it all that much more intriguing.

The Coyotes, who are in eighth place in the West, host Anaheim Saturday night. The Coyotes are 2-3-0 against Anaheim this season, so it will be another chance for the Ducks to wreak some havoc in the race. A win for the Coyotes and they pick up points on whoever falls in the Stars-Sharks battle.

Colorado beat Calgary Friday night. That kept the Avalanche’s slim hopes alive and basically buried the Flames’ chances. Colorado has 88 points, but doesn’t play for the next five days and has only two games left. If the Avs win their final two games – home tilts against Columbus and Nashville – they’d hit 92 points. They’d have to hope for a lot of losing among those four Pacific Division teams to get in.

Calgary is at 85 points with three games left. They could max out at 91 points and even if they did, it’s not likely it would be enough to get them in.

Nashville beat Detroit Friday to take over fourth place in the West. The Predators now lead Detroit by one point. That’s a key spot since it brings home ice in the first round. And the Canucks are just one point behind St. Louis for first overall in the West. There’s still a lot of stuff to be decided.


Stars fall to Canucks, 5-2

March, 30, 2012
3/30/12
9:45
PM CT


The Dallas Stars were knocked out of first place in the Pacific Division after losing 5-2 at Vancouver on Friday night. Los Angeles, a 4-1 winner at Edmonton, took over the top spot in the division. The Stars are now seventh in the Western Conference.

The Stars, who have lost five of their last eight games, play at ninth place San Jose Saturday. They lead the Sharks by one point.

Steve Ott and Jake Dowell scored for the Stars. Kari Lehtonen stopped 26 of 30 shots in 49:59 of playing time for the Stars. Richard Bachman played the final 10:01 and stopped three of four shots.

Cory Schneider stopped 28 of 30 for the Canucks, who won their fifth straight game.

First period

Both teams had some good chances early in the period, but the Canucks struck first at the 6:17 mark. Jannik Hansen got to a puck along the right boards and backhanded it to Chris Higgins, who beat Kari Lehtonen with a quick shot from the slot.

Roberto Luongo was expected to start for the Canucks, but Cory Schneider was announced as the starter just before game time. He was superb in the first period, making 13 saves. He had a couple of sharp saves on Jamie Benn along with good stops on Michael Ryder and Mike Ribeiro in the period.

Vancouver had the only power play of the period. The Stars had a 13-7 edge in shots.

Second period

The Stars tied the game at 3:16 of the second. After Jamie Benn put a shot on net off a faceoff, Steve Ott got to the rebound and slipped it past Cory Schneider to make it a 1-1 game.

After that it was a series of quality saves by Schneider and Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen.

Lehtonen had a save on Samuel Pahlsson and two on Chris Higgins. On the Canucks second power play of the game Schneider made a big shorthanded stop on Ott and then made a spectacular save on a shorthanded bid by Loui Eriksson. He made another shorthanded save on Vernon Fiddler on Vancouver’s third power play.

The Canucks took the lead on that third power play when Sami Salo’s blast from the right point went through traffic and past Lehtonen with 8:39 left in the period.

The Canucks made it 3:35 left in the second. Moments after Schneider stopped Jake Dowell, the Canucks went the other way and Henrik Sedin found defenseman Andrew Alberts, who scored off a blast from the left circle.

The Canucks outshot the Stars 20-13 in the second period and had a 27-26 advantage through two periods.

Third period

Reilly Smith got bumped up to a line with Benn and Ott to start the third, and Smith hit the post early in the period. But the Canucks scored twice in a 2:12 to blow the game open. Henrik Sedin set up Alex Burrow, who scored from close range a the 9:06 mark to make it a 4-1 game.

The Stars pulled Lehtonen in favor of Richard Bachman a short time later and the Canucks quickly scored to make it a 5-1 game when a wide open Max Lapierre scored from the slot at the 11:18 mark.

Jake Dowell scored late for the Stars to round out the scoring.

Stars lineup

Eriksson-Ribeiro-Ryder
Ott-Benn-Vincour
Morrow-Fiddler-Burish
Smith-Dowell-Garbutt

Souray-Robidas
Pardy-Daley
Goligoski-Larsen

Lehtonen (starter)
Bachman

Injured: Fistric (abdominal strain), Dvorak (ankle), Nystrom (leg)
Scratched: Petersen, Wandell, Jordie Benn

Stars-Canucks Preview

March, 29, 2012
3/29/12
11:49
PM CT
Dallas Stars at Vancouver Canucks
Friday March 30, 9:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest Plus/NBC Sports Network
Radio: KTCK-1310 (AM)

About the Stars

The Stars (42-30-5) are coming off a 3-1 win at Edmonton on Wednesday. Michael Ryder scored two goals and added an assist, and Kari Lehtonen made 31 saves for the Stars, who took over first place in the Pacific Division after the win.

“We’re happy to take these two points and keep going,” Lehtonen said. “You never know what’s going to happen against the Oilers. Those guys have so much skill, and they’re fun to play against.”

Friday’s game in Vancouver opens the final back-to-back set of the season for the Stars. They play at San Jose on Saturday.

“It doesn’t get easier,” Gulutzan said. “Those are all points we have to claw, scrape or whatever we can do to get something out of those games.”

Lehtonen will start in goal Friday.

Injuries: LW Eric Nystrom (leg) and RW Radek Dvorak (ankle) and D Mark Fistric (abdominal strain) are out.

About the Canucks

The Canucks (47-21-9) won their fourth straight game, beating Colorado 1-0 in Vancouver on Wednesday. Cory Schneider made 43 saves

“They put a lot at the net from a lot of angles, everything they had they put at the net and that’s what a desperate team does,” Schneider said. “I thought we did a great job either blocking it or letting me see the puck and there were quite a few where I was just able to catch it and kill the play. The shots were lopsided but the actual quality chances, we did a good job eliminating those.”

It was the second straight 1-0 victory for the Canucks, who have allowed just three goals over the last four games. While the Canucks have tightened up things defensively, they struggled to score, tallying just eight goals over the last six games.

“We're happy where we are defensively and we're not giving up 3-on-2s and 2-on-1s. I know we're going to score goals eventually and that they're going to come,” said Canucks captain Henrik Sedin.

The Canucks are three points behind St. Louis for first overall in the Western Conference and have one game in hand.

Injuries: D Kevin Bieksa (undisclosed) is questionable. LW Daniel Sedin (concussion), D Aaron Rome (knee), D Keith Ballard (concussion), C Andrew Ebbett (collarbone) and C Aaron Volpatti (shoulder) are out.

Series notes

*This the fourth and final meeting of the season between the two teams.

*The Stars are 2-1-0 in the season series.

*The Canucks are 1-1-1 in the season series.

*February 26, at Dallas: Stars 3, Canucks 2 (OT)
March 6, at Vancouver: Stars 5, Canucks 2
March 22, at Dallas: Canucks 2, Stars 1

Statistical tidbits

*The Stars rank seventh in the NHL in road goals against at 2.58 per game.

*Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen is 14-7-2 with a 2.09 goals against average and .935 save percentage on the road this season.

*The Canucks have been outshot 81-47 over the last two games but have outscored their opposition 2-0.

*The Canucks have scored just eight goals over the last six games, but they’ve allowed only seven during the same stretch.

*Forward Chris Higgins has scored three of the Canucks’ last five goals.

*Vancouver is 1-20 on the power play over the last six games.

*Stars forward Michael Ryder has 30 points (18 goals, 12 assists) in 29 games since the All-Star break.

*Stars forward Mike Ribeiro has 30 points (8 goals, 22 assists) in 29 games since the All-Star break.


DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars started Thursday in third place in the Western Conference. They ended it in third place in the Pacific Division and barely in a playoff spot. It’s a sign of just how tight the playoff race in the West is.

The Stars, who have lost three of four games, are now in eighth place in the Western, just percentage points ahead of ninth place Colorado and one point ahead of tenth place San Jose.

“Maybe it is a good reality check of how delicate these next eight games are going to be,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan.

With the Stars and Canucks playing for the third time in less than a month, things weren't exactly delicate on the ice and a lot of it happened after the whistle, which didn’t play into the Stars’ hands.

“I didn’t think our focus was high. Our game plan at the start was to keep the pace high, stay whistle to whistle,” Gulutzan said. “We wanted to get things deep and go after them. In the first few minutes (Cory) Schneider stood the test and made some real good saves. Then we lost focus. We wanted to get involved in an extracurricular game, some of the exchanges, the penalties and the frustration level was way too high. ... You have to be methodical and focused this time of year. You can’t be up and down like a yo-yo with your emotions."

That extracurricular stuff might have played into the hands of the Canucks, who had played the night before in Chicago.

“It kind of ruins the flow of the game, especially against a team coming off a back-to-back,” said Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski. “Don’t’ want to slow that game down all night, so I think we fell into that a little bit.”

The Stars started strong, creating some early scoring chances but Schneider made strong saves on a Mike Ribeiro redirection and a hard shot by Loui Eriksson from the slot.

The Canucks took the lead at 4:46 of the mark when Henrik Sedin sent a pass from the right boards that was tipped by Don Hamhuis to a wide open Mason Raymond, who scored from close range to give the Canucks the early lead.

The Stars had a chance to tie in the second when Ribeiro was awarded a penalty shot, but Schneider turned away Ribeiro’s bid to keep the Canucks ahead.

“I wasn’t really sure what he was going to do with it. But got him pretty tight and don’t know if he was trying to go past my blocker or through my arm, but stayed with him and made the save,” Schneider said.

The Canucks were able to extend the lead to 2-0 early in the third period when Raymond set up Kevin Bieksa, who had his first shot stopped by Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen but then put his own rebound into the net.

The Stars scored with just over 12 minutes remaining when Schneider came out of the net to play the puck, but it bounced over his stick and Vernon Fiddler put it into the net to make it a 2-1 game.

But the Stars could never get the equalizer on Schneider, who stopped 25 shots to improve to 17-7-1 on the season.

“Gave us a chance to win, played well, moved the puck well, everything you could ask from a goalie,” said Bieksa.

Notes

*The Stars were 0-3 on the power play in the game and had no shots on their chances with the man-advantage.

*Stars defenseman Mark Fistric missed Thursday’s game with an abdominal strain. He is expected to miss at least one week.

*Toby Petersen, Ryan Garbutt, Tomas Vincour and Jordie Benn were healthy scratches for Dallas.

*Canucks forward Daniel Sedin missed Thursday’s game with a head injury suffered Wednesday when he was elbowed by Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith.

*Thursday’s attendance was 16,618.

Postgame quotes

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
11:33
PM CT
Here are some postgame quotes after the Dallas Stars lost 2-1 to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night.

Stars coach Glen Gulutzan

“I didn’t think our focus was high. Our game plan at the start was to keep the pace high, stay whistle to whistle. It was on the board, we wanted to play whistle to whistle with these guys tonight. They came off an emotional game last night. We wanted to get things deep and go after them. In the first few minutes (Cory) Schneider stood the test and made some real good saves. Then we lost focus. We wanted to get involved in an extracurricular game, some of the exchanges, the penalties and the frustration level was way too high.”

Stars forward Eric Nystrom

“We’d like to go undefeated obviously, but there’s going to be games that you’re going to come out on the wrong end of, but there can’t be too many of those down the stretch. We know we’re a great team in here and we’ve got to move forward and learn from our mistakes and know we’ve got to shoot the puck a little more and go to that net and get some ugly ones and we’ll be fine.”

Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski on the shoving after the whistle

“That kind of stuff we don’t’ want to get into. We want to play whistle to whistle. It kind of ruins the flow of the game, especially against a team coming off a back-to-back. Don’t’ want to slow that game down all night, so I think we fell into that a little bit. The games are picking up physicality wise and that’s the way it goes.”

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault

“It was a real solid team effort I thought from start to finish, two teams that battled real hard. There was a lot of stuff going on the ice from whistle to whistle and a lot of stuff going on after the whistle. But we were able to get couple of goals. Unfortunately there Schneids lost his shutout on that play there but really liked our overall game.”

Canucks goalie Cory Schneider on stopping Mike Ribeiro’s penalty shot attempt

“Seeing him coming in the back end like that and I wasn’t really sure what he was going to do with it. But got him pretty tight and don’t know if he was trying to go past my blocker or through my arm, but stayed with him and made the save.”

Rapid Reaction: Canucks 2, Stars 1

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
10:15
PM CT
How it happened: Goalie Cory Schneider turned in a sparkling performance in net, stopping 25 of 26 shots as the Vancouver Canucks beat the Dallas Stars, 2-1, at American Airlines Center on Thursday night. The Canucks got a goal from Mason Raymond early in the first period and another from Kevin Bieksa early in the second to build a 2-0 lead on Dallas. Henrik Sedin had two assists. Vernon Fiddler scored the lone goal for Dallas.

What it means: The Stars lost for the third time in the last four games (1-3-0) and will have to scoreboard watch to see if teams chasing them in the Pacific Division -- Los Angeles and Phoenix -- pass them in the standings. The Canucks, who are locked in atop the Northwest Division and second in the Western Conference, won for just the third time in the last nine games (3-5-1).

Save of the night: Schneider stopped Mike Ribeiro on a penalty shot at 12:55 of the second period to help the Canucks preserve a 1-0 lead in the game.

Missing in action: Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin sat out Thursday’s game with a head injury. Sedin, who suffered the injury Wednesday night when he was elbowed by Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith, flew back to Vancouver for further evaluation.

What’s next: The Stars take on Calgary in a home-and-home series. The two teams meet in Dallas on Saturday night and then play in Calgary on Monday. The Canucks play at Colorado on Saturday then head back to Vancouver for a four-game homestand.

Canucks top Stars, 2-1

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
8:20
PM CT
The Dallas Stars lost for the third time in the last four games, falling 2-1 to the Vancouver Canucks at American Airlines Center on Thursday night. Cory Schneider stopped 25 of 26 shots for the Canucks, for who got a first-period goal from Mason Raymond and a third-period goal from Kevin Bieksa. Vernon Fiddler scored the lone goal for Dallas. Kari Lehtonen stopped 27 of 28 shots for the Stars.

First period

The Stars had a couple of early chances, but Canucks goalie Cory Schneider made nice stops on a Mike Ribeiro redirection and a Loui Eriksson shot from the slot.

Vancouver got on the board at the 4:46 mark when Henrik Sedin sent the puck from the right boards and Dan Hamhuis tipped it to Mason Raymond, who scored from close range to give the Canucks the early lead.

Stars forward Jake Dowell and Canucks forward Dan Weise dropped the gloves midway through the period.

Schneider came up with a couple more quality stops to keep the Stars off the scoreboard, denying Alex Goligoski and Michael Ryder.

The Canucks got the first power play of the game late in the period, but couldn’t take advantage.

Second period

The Stars had a power play five minutes into the second period, but failed to get a shot on goal.

Cory Schneider continued to be sharp in net for the Canucks, making a nice save on a close range backhand shot by Stars center Tom Wandell midway through the period.

The Canucks got their second power play of the game with 9:28 left in the period, but weren’t able to cash in.

Mike Ribeiro got a breakaway coming out of the penalty box, was hooked and was awarded a penalty shot, but Schneider stopped his attempt to keep it a 1-0 game.

The Canucks went on power play number three when Ribeiro took a slashing penalty. Stephane Robidas then took a hooking penalty, giving the Canucks a five-on-three power play for 1:06. But Alex Burrows took a holding penalty taking the Canucks off the two-man advantage.

The Stars ended up with an abbreviated power play, their second of the game, but failed to scored.

Third period

The Canucks extended their lead to 2-0 at the 4:19 mark of the third. Mason Raymond hit defenseman Kevin Bieksa in the slot and Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen stopped the initial shot, but Bieksa scored on the rebound.

The Stars got on the board with 12:16 left in the game when Schneider came out the net to handle the puck, had it hop over his stick and a diving Vernon Fiddler poked it into the empty net to make it a 2-1 game.

Less than a minute later, Lehtonen came out of the net to play the puck and Canucks forward Samuel Pahlsson just missed scoring into an empty net, hitting the post from the right boards.

The Stars pulled Lehtonen with just over one minute remaining and then got a power play with 44.9 seconds left, but couldn’t get the equalizer.

Stars lineup

Eriksson-Ribeiro-Ryder
Ott-Benn-Morrow
Nystrom-Fiddler-Dvorak
Dowell-Wandell-Burish

Souray-Robidas
Goligoski-Larsen
Pardy-Daley

Lehtonen (starter)
Bachman

Injured: Fistric (abdominal strain)
Scratched: Petersen, Pardy, Garbutt, Vincour, Jordie Benn

Playoff watch: Several key games

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
8:13
AM CT
Just look at the standings and you can see why every game and every point is big right now for the Stars. They still sit atop the Pacific Division and third in the West, but their grip on that spot is precarious. The lead is just one point in the division and just one point on ninth place.

Plenty of big games tonight. The Stars and Canucks square off in a battle of division leaders. Vancouver played last night in Chicago, losing 2-1 in overtime to the Blackhawks. They also lost forward Daniel Sedin, who took an elbow to the head from Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith in the first period and did not return. We should get more on Sedin’s status today. The Canucks, who have been struggling lately, played well last night but are just 3-5-3 over their last 11 games.

Los Angeles, one point behind the Stars and eighth in the West, takes on St. Louis, which is coming off a 4-3 loss at Anaheim last night. The Kings are starting to score some goals and have won five straight games. The Blues, who are on game five of a seven-game road trip, are 1-2-1 over their last four games.

Phoenix, one point behind the Stars and ninth in the West, hosts seventh-seeded Colorado, which is tied with the Stars at 85 points. The Coyotes will be without captain Shane Doan, who will be serving the first game of his three-game suspension for elbowing Stars forward Jamie Benn. The Avalanche are on a roll. They have points in six straight (4-0-2) and are 6-1-2 over their last nine games.

San Jose -- which is in 10th place, three points behind the Stars and two points out of the playoffs -- hosts Boston tonight.

Calgary, in eleventh place, plays at Minnesota. The Flames are worth watching because the Stars play them in a home-and-home series this Saturday and Monday.


Stars-Canucks Preview

March, 21, 2012
3/21/12
11:12
PM CT
Vancouver Canucks at Dallas Stars
Thursday March 22
7:30 p.m.
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.

Series notes

*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

Statistical tidbits

*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).


Playoff watch: Thursday's key games

March, 8, 2012
3/08/12
7:39
AM CT
There were no games in the Western Conference last night, but there are key ones in the playoff race Thursday.

The Stars, of course, host San Jose. The Stars lead the Sharks by three points and these are big points for both. The Stars are on a roll with points in eight straight and the Sharks have been struggling recently, picking up just two wins in their last 11 games. The Stars’ lead over San Jose could be as high as five or as a low as one by the end of the night.

Phoenix, which is two points behind the Stars and has lost four in a row, plays Minnesota. The Wild are winless in five and have been outscored 23-5 during that stretch.

Los Angeles, three points behind Dallas and winners of three in a row plays at Columbus. The Blue Jackets have won three in a row, all of them against teams in the playoff hunt -- Phoenix (twice) and Colorado.

Colorado, which is three points behind the Stars, is at Nashville tonight. It’s a big test for the Avs, whose last two wins have come against the struggling Wild.

There’s still a great race for the top spot in the West between St. Louis, Vancouver and Detroit. St. Louis plays Anaheim and Vancouver plays Winnipeg tonight. Detroit is idle.


With their big win at Vancouver last night, the Stars increased their lead in the race for first in the Pacific to two points over Phoenix and they have a three point lead over San Jose and Los Angeles. The Sharks have two games in hand and the Kings, who are ninth in the conference, have one. That just goes to show how tight the race is.

Phoenix lost last night at Columbus. After an 11-0-1 run, the Coyotes have now dropped four straight games. San Jose lost 3-2 in a shootout to Edmonton. The Sharks are 2-7-2 in their last 11 games. The Kings won last 5-4 last night at Nashville. The Kings have won three in a row for the first time since November 12-17.

Colorado and Calgary both won last night, so both those teams continue to hang around that final playoff spot. The Avalanche have won six of their last eight games (6-2-0). For the Flames, it was just their second win in the last eight games (2-3-3).

With help from the Stars, St. Louis - a 5-1 winner over Chicago – moved into the top spot in the West. The Stars are now within two points of Chicago as far as total points.

Everybody in the Western race is off tonight, so enjoy a night of no scoreboard watching.



The Dallas Stars ran their points streak to eight games (7-0-1) with a 5-2 win at Vancouver on Tuesday night. The Stars, who wrapped up their Western Canada road trip with a 3-0-0 record, have won five straight on the road and are 7-1-2 in their last ten games overall. The victory kept the Stars atop the Pacific Division.

The Stars’ top line came up big again. Mike Ribeiro had two goals and one assist, Loui Eriksson had a goal and an assist and Michael Ryder chipped in two assists. Jamie Benn and Stephane Robidas also scored for the Stars. Richard Bachman stopped 29 of 31 shots

First period

There was no scoring in the first, but there were chances. Vancouver’s Zach Kassian got a penalty shot just 24 seconds into the game after he was hooked by Mark Fistric, but lost control of the puck and never got a shot off.

Stars forward Jamie Benn had a couple chances late, just missing on an open net and then getting stopped by Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo on another.

Both teams had seven seconds of power play time in the period.

Vancouver had a 10-5 shots advantage.

The Stars lost defenseman Trevor Daley in the period. He was got twisted around during a scramble in front of the Dallas net and then Canucks forward Alex Burrows fell on top of him. Daley returned to start the second period.

Second period

The Canucks took a 1-0 lead at the 6:45 mark of the second period when Chris Higgins scored off the rush, beating Richard Bachman with a shot from the right circle.

But the Stars bounced back with two goals late in the period. The first one came on the Stars’ second power play of the night. Trevor Daley, who was injured in the first but returned to start the second period, centered the puck and in went in the net off the skate of Stars forward Loui Eriksson to tie the game 1-1 at the 16:44 mark.

The Stars took a 2-1 lead with 23 seconds left when Mike Ribeiro scored on a two-on-one, roofing a shot over Roberto Luongo from close range.

Third period

After both teams had chances early in the period, the Stars extended their lead to 3-1 on at the 4:25 mark. Following a Canucks turnover, Steve Ott set up Benn, who beat Luongo with a shot from the left circle.

Vancouver made it a 3-2 game at the 7:55 mark when Canucks Alex Edler skated into the Dallas zone and put a shot on net that appeared to hit a stick and went over the shoulder of Bachman.

But the Stars extended the lead again less than four minutes later. Michael Ryder slipped by Daniel Sedin along the right boards and then made a slick centering pass that was tipped into the net by Ribeiro to make it a 4-2 game with 8:49 remaining.

Stephane Robidas rounded out the scoring with a late empty net goal.

Stars lineup

Eriksson-Ribeiro-Ryder
Ott-Benn-Burish
Nystrom-Fiddler-Dvorak
Garbutt-Wandell-Vincour

Souray-Robidas
Fistric-Daley
Goligoski-Larsen

Bachman (starter)
Lehtonen

Scratched: Pardy
Injured: Petersen (personal), Dowell (finger), Morrow (neck/back)

Stars-Canucks Preview

March, 5, 2012
3/05/12
9:05
PM CT
Dallas Stars at Vancouver Canucks
Tuesday, March 6
9:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest Plus
Radio: KTCK-1310 (AM)

About the Stars

The Stars (35-26-5) ran their points streak to seven games (6-0-1) with a 3-2 shootout win at Calgary Sunday. Kari Lehtonen made 36 saves and was 2-2 in the shootout and Loui Eriksson had one goal, one assist and scored in the shootout.

“We know how big these points are and today we got two more points, it’s huge for us right now,” said Eriksson. “Calgary’s behind us and we needed a big win today and we got it. It’s big, it’s so tight in the conference and that point can really help us.”

The Stars, who are 7-1-2 over their last ten games, moved into first place in the Pacific Division Monday night when Phoenix lost to Pittsburgh in regulation, 2-1.

Richard Bachman will start in goal for the Stars.

Injuries: LW Toby Petersen (personal), LW Jake Dowell (finger) and LW Brenden Morrow (neck/back) are out.

About the Canucks

The Canucks (41-17-8) lost 5-3 to Buffalo on Saturday. The Sabres scored three goals in the first 5:10 of the game, chasing Canucks starter Roberto Luongo from the game.

“It was a bad start,” Luongo said. “I got to be better than that for my teammates. The boys battled hard to try and come back, and played a pretty good match so obviously I'll take the responsibility for this one.”

The Canucks are 1-1-2 over their last four games.

Injuries: D Keith Ballard (concussion), LW Andrew Ebbett (collarbone) and LW Aaron Volpatti (shoulder) are out.

Series notes

*This is the second of four meetings between the two teams.

*The Stars won the first meeting, defeating the Canucks 3-2 (OT) in Dallas on February 26.

*The Stars haven’t won in Vancouver since Jan. 4, 2009, dropping five straight games since then (0-4-1).

Statistical tidbits

*The Stars have won four straight on the road and are 5-1-2 in their last eight road games.

*The Canucks are 7-1-1 in their last nine home games.

*The Stars have allowed 10 goals over the last 7 games (1.43 per game).

*The Stars are 20-21 (95.2%) on the penalty kill over the last seven games.

*The Canucks are 1-18 (5.6%) on the power play over the last seven games.

*Stars forward Michael Ryder is on a four-game goal scoring streak has 10 goals in his last 15 games.

*Stars forward Loui Eriksson has 14 points (5 goals, 9 assists) in his last 13 games.

The Stars have a chance to gain ground in the playoff race Friday when it comes to their Pacific Division foes.

Two points against the Edmonton Oilers and the Stars will pull even with San Jose at 73 points and be within two of Phoenix for the Pacific Division lead and third overall in the West.

Both the Sharks and Coyotes lost last night in regulation. Phoenix lost 4-2 at home to Calgary. It was the Coyotes’ first regulation loss since Jan. 31. The Sharks lost 1-0 at home to Buffalo to fall to 4-9-1 over their last 14 games.

With their win over the Coyotes, the Flames pulled to within two points of the Stars. The Flames play again tonight, taking on the Ducks in Anaheim.

Colorado had a chance to move into eighth place last night but lost 2-0 at home to Columbus.

Vancouver beat St. Louis 2-0 last night to stay on top of the West. The Blues dropped from second to fourth with the loss.

Chicago, four points ahead of the Stars and currently in sixth place, plays at Ottawa tonight.


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