Bertuzzi continued his recent roll with three goals, two on the
power play, to tie for the league lead and set his career high in
points as the Canucks beat the Dallas Stars 4-2 Monday night in a
showdown between Western Conference division leaders.
Pat Kavanagh added his first NHL goal and rookie goaltender
Alexander Auld stopped 26 shots as Vancouver matched Dallas with 95
points, second to Detroit's 96. The Canucks hold the tiebreaker
over the Stars because they have two more victories.
''It was a desperate effort by us,'' said Bertuzzi, who has 12
goals in 13 games. ''Even though we're at the top of the standings,
we're still a desperate team.''
Bertuzzi has 42 goals this season, matching teammate Markus
Naslund and Ottawa's Marian Hossa. His third career hat trick and
first this season gives him 86 points, one more than he had last
''I'm just trying to do anything to contribute to our team's
success,'' he said.
As a team, Vancouver also has one more point than last season.
The Red Wings, who have won 15 of the past 17, still have the edge
in the race for the top seed because they have one more game left
than the other division leaders.
The Stars and Canucks had been first and second in the West for months until
losing their goaltenders. Now both are in a tight race for playoff
positioning with only nine games left, including another
head-to-head meeting in Vancouver on March 25.
Dallas has lost three in a row in regulation for the first time
The Stars are 6-6-3-1 since All-Star goalie Marty Turco sprained
an ankle; they're 0-4-1-1 against playoff teams in that span. This
was the second consecutive game goalie Ron Tugnutt allowed four goals.
''Right now, our team is finding ways to lose,'' coach Dave
Tippett said. ''We can't focus on the standings. If you play well,
the standings will take care of themselves.''
The good news for the Canucks is that goalie Dan Cloutier could
return from a sprained knee as soon as Tuesday in St. Louis. If he
can't, Auld deserves another start after a second consecutive solid
Auld, whose only previous career victory was by the same score in
the same building in January 2002, had 22 saves in a 1-0 defeat against Toronto on Saturday.
''I just want to keep it going,'' Auld said. ''I'm loving every
minute of it.''
Dallas played great in the first period, outshooting Vancouver
14-4. But only Scott Young, who was coming off a two-game
suspension, could beat Auld, knocking in a backhander midway
through the period.
Bertuzzi's power-play goals came 4:30 apart in the second
period, putting Vancouver ahead 2-1.
His first goal came on a two-man advantage, when he caught
Tugnutt leaning the wrong way and slid the puck under him. The next
one came when he redirected a shot by Brent Sopel, flipping it over
''Penalties were the key,'' Tippett said. ''When they went
five-on-three, that was the break that got them into the game. Unlike us,
they took advantage of their power play.''
The Stars were 0-for-5 on the power play, and had the extra man
for 2:27 longer than the Canucks.
Vancouver stretched the lead when Kavanagh, called up Sunday and
playing his second NHL game, put the puck into an open net after
Tugnutt was knocked down.
Bertuzzi's capper came on a breakaway; Dallas' Derian Hatcher
dived to stop him at the blue line and missed.
''Todd was outstanding tonight and we had other guys who also
stepped up,'' Canucks coach Marc Crawford said. ''We had everybody
on board tonight.''
Naslund has one goal his past 10 games. ... Dallas had won
the two previous meetings by a combined 8-1 score. ... Vancouver already
was expected to be without left wing Brad May and center Mats
Lindgren, both injured Saturday against Toronto. Defenseman Mattias
Ohlund also was scratched with an injury. Three players were called
up from AHL Manitoba to replace them and two (Kavanagh and Jason
King) were used.