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Starry Night

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks
Dallas goaltender Marty Turco stopped all Vancouver shots on Friday night to earn his first career playoff shutout and even the best of seven series with the Canucks at one game a piece.

The Canucks fired 35 pucks at the man with the golden stick but most of the Vancouver shots were like watching a game of video Pong - on the slowest speed.

Turco moved side to side with ease and looked under complete control as he directed rebounds to the corner or to his on guard defensemen.

Dallas rear guards had little trouble clearing the zone against a lackluster Vancouver forecheck that wasn't able to generate turnovers, and scoring chances that usually result.

Losing speedy trap busters like Matt Cooke, Ryan Kesler and Alexandre Burrows to injuries after game one made it an easy night for the Dallas defensive crew. The Canucks finally cranked up the Pong speed in the third but it was too little, too late.

The damage had already been done. Or not done, depending on how you look at it.

"I didn't think we got really quality chances," said Markus Naslund after the game two defeat. "The effort was there but I didn't think we played smart. We have to find a way to penetrate better and get in and create traffic."

Missing from game two was the rabid Canucks forecheck and punishing hits along the boards or behind the Dallas goal. The final stats showed rejuvenated Markus Naslund as the leading hit getter among Vancouver forwards with three bodychecks thrown.

Taylor Pyatt, Trevor Linden, Jeff Cowan, Jannik Hansen and Jan Bulis all had one each.

But in a best of seven game series that many are touting as being a battle of attrition, the Canucks appeared to give the Stars defenders a night off from having to ice down bumps and bruises in the medical room afterwards. Vancouver forecheckers only had four takeaways.

The Canucks 35 shots looks respectable on the final scoresheet but hardly any could be deemed as quality scoring chances from the gritty areas in front of the blue paint. Most pucks came from the outside perimeter and were slow getting to Turco.

Dallas forwards were quick to rush the point and get their bodies in front of Canucks defence who looked like they wanted to shoot - but instead chose to ring the puck around the boards for fear of having their shots blocked.

Once the puck was in deep behind the Dallas goal, the more aggressive Stars defencemen had no trouble clearing the zone away from imminent danger.

"We've got to get shots through to the net," said Brendan Morrison about the Canucks inability to penetrate the Dallas defence. "A lot of times when we have traffic there we're not getting pucks to the net because they're doing a good job of getting in lanes and getting out. We've got to find ways to break them down and get some ugly goals."

Only 10 of the Canucks 35 shots were from the defence. Lukas Krajicek led the way with three.

"If you look at the first game and how many forechecks there was in the game, that's a big part of it," said Dallas Head Coach Dave Tippett. "Obviously if you can get in there and create some turnovers you can create some chances. That was evident from our first shift of the game."

Dallas opened the scoring 24 seconds into the contest when the Canucks couldn't gain control behind their own net - a turnover was created and Vancouver fell behind early and never recovered.

Alain Vigneault dismissed the loss of the three Canucks forwards as the reason for not being able to penetrate the Big D defensive zone coverage.

"Those guys are good players for us, but we've got some other good players that will have to pick up the slack," said Vigneault. "Every team goes through injuries and we're no different than anybody else. They're a solid defensive hockey team and you don't usually get a lot of chances against them."

The Canucks and Stars head to Dallas for games three and four. Vancouver fans will hope everything really is bigger in Texas - including the hit count and turnovers on the final scoresheets.
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