Led by a combined six points from Daniel and Henrik Sedin, the Canucks thumped the Stars 5-2 Saturday night at Rogers Arena to open a season-high six-game homestand and sweep the season series 4-0.
Vancouver outscored Dallas 20-5 this season and won every game by at least three goals.
On this night the Canucks led 3-1 midway through the third period before the Stars drew with a goal, but the drama was shortlived with Vancouver scoring a pair of goals 33 seconds apart with less than four minutes to play to end the game.
Daniel Sedin finished with two goals and an assist, Henrik Sedin has a goal and two assists and Roberto Luongo turned aside 22 shots, and yet the story of the game was Raffi Torres who snapped a 23-game goalless drought with his second multi-goal game of the season.
The last time Torres found the back of the net was on December 31st, 2010, in Dallas; stars seem to align against the Stars for both Torres and the Canucks.
“It felt like I lost 100 pounds with one shot,” said Torres, in regards to his first goal of the night, a 30-foot slap shot that got the best of former Canucks goaltender Andrew Raycroft.
Torres has been a noticeably different player since the NHL all-star break and the same can be said for the play of the entire third line, which includes Manny Malhotra and Jannik Hansen. All three players recommitted themselves to getting back to basics and reverting to the grinding style of hockey they played to begin the season and that has paid dividends for the trio on the scoresheet as well.
Torres also needed to take a step back and evaluate his game. After looking in the mirror, he realized he’s not the third Sedin.
“I’ve been more focused, just trying to get pucks on net, straight lines, don’t try to make that extra play,” explained Torres. “It’s tough when you see the twins and those guys and you see what they do and they make it look so easy that sometimes you think you’ve got that in your bag, but I’ve got a little reality check here and just start getting back to basics.”
The goal that had Dallas’ bus driver turn the key was Torres’ second of the night and Vancouver's fifth; Malhotra sent him a great pass through the Stars crease that he re-directed into the net.
All in all, it was a breakout night for a player struggling to find his game.
“It’s tough,” said Torres of the goalless streak. “The thing that sucks more is that the team is winning and you’re not helping out. But at the end of the day I talked to AV and he said they’re not worried about me or the goals or anything like that. They’re more interested in the physical play and creating some energy for the line.”
Lost in the Torres commotion was the fact that with three points, Daniel Sedin regained the NHL scoring lead and is now two ahead of Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos.
Could back-to-back Sedin Art Ross Trophy wins be in the cards for the Canucks?
“Right now it doesn’t mean much,” laughed Daniel, who has 32 goals and 45 assists for 77 points. “I got this question a few weeks ago too and we’ll keep playing and see what happens, but it’s nothing I skate around thinking about too much.”
Finally, some good news for Vancouver’s injury riddled defence.
Both Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard skated early Saturday morning and although a timetable for their returns has yet to be mapped out, having both defencemen on the ice was a great start.
"I'm feeling good and making a lot of progress this week," said Hamhuis, who has passed all post-concussion tests. "I've been through the NHL concussion testing and that's gone really well, as well as some in-house testing we've been doing with different baselines and everything's gone well and I was able to participate in the game day skate."
Hamhuis, who has missed four games since being hit by Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf on a controversial check behind the Vancouver net, is closer to returning than Ballard, who has been out five games since an equally controversial run-in with Milan Michalek, also behind the Canucks goal.
Whether Getzlaf left his feet or not, and regardless if Michalek used a slew foot, both players are on the road to recovery meaning Vancouver is that much closer to getting two of their premier closers back in the line-up.
Daniel Sedin has opened the scoring 18 times for the Canucks this season; Henrik Sedin has 33 points (8-25-33) points in 38 career games vs. Dallas; the Stars remain one win away from 700 in franchise history, they’ll become the 20th team in NHL history to register 700 wins in a single city.