Final OT

Series (Game 4 of 4)

Dallas leads 3-1

Game 1: Wednesday, December 17th
Game 2: Monday, January 19th
Game 3: Thursday, March 18th
Game 4: Saturday, March 27th

Stars 2

(40-24-1, 94 pts)

Canucks 3

(39-24-5, 93 pts)

10:00 PM ET, March 27, 2004

Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

1 2 3 OT T
DAL 1 1 0 02
VAN 1 0 1 13

G. Sanderson (Canucks - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

B. Morrow (Stars - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

D. Cloutier (Canucks - G): Saves: 22, Save Pct.: .917


VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- The Vancouver Canucks clinched a playoff spot Saturday night, and gained some confidence against the team they might face in the first round.

Geoff Sanderson scored the tying goal midway through the third period, and Brendan Morrison added the winner 40 seconds into overtime in the Canucks' 3-2 victory over the Dallas Stars on Saturday night.

The win was Vancouver's first over the Stars in four games this season, and moved the fifth-place Canucks within one point of Dallas in the race for home-ice advantage in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

"It's always important you get a little bit of confidence against a team you may face in the playoffs," Canucks coach Marc Crawford said. "We haven't played very well against them this year."

No one has played well against the Stars when trailing after two periods. Dallas was unbeaten in 69 games when leading after 40 minutes, but that all changed when Morrison raced in on a two-on-two rush and snapped a 20-foot wrist shot that hit the shaft of a Lubomir Sekeras' stick and bounced through Ron Tugnutt's legs.

"I don't know what the defenseman did on my side, it looked like he turned to the middle and I just had a lane to the net and just got a little lucky it hit the shaft and redirected," Morrison said.

Daniel Sedin also scored, and Dan Cloutier made 22 saves to help the Canucks win consecutive games for the first time since star forward Todd Bertuzzi was suspended indefinitely for a blindside punch on Colorado's Steve Moore. Vancouver, 3-3-2-1 since the suspension, also moved one point behind Colorado in the Northwest Division.

"We've had to deal with a lot of adversity here," Morrison said. "I'm not making any excuses, a lot teams go through it, but these last few games are a step in the right direction."

Pierre Turgeon and Brenden Morrow scored, and Tugnutt made 27 saves for the Stars, who lost for the first time since Oct. 19, 2001 when leading after two periods.

Playing without suspended goalie Marty Turco, three top defensemen and a couple of key forwards, the fourth-place Stars still moved within four points of San Jose for first place in the Pacific Division. Dallas will play in San Jose on Sunday.

"At this time of year every point is important and that (point) still controls our destiny against them and gives us a chance to still catch San Jose," Tugnutt said. "Two would have been nice, but we have to move past that now."

Game notes

Sedin's goal was his first in 15 games since scoring four against Detroit on Feb. 24. ... Dallas C Jason Arnott returned after missing the previous game because of a groin injury, but C Stu Barnes missed a second straight game with an upper body injury. RW Jere Lehtinen sat out his third game with back spasms. ...

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press