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At the Rink: Stars at Canucks

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Canucks coach Willie Desjardins hopes his players learned a tough lesson against the Colorado Avalanche.

The Avalanche came into Vancouver Thursday after a loss the night before against the Edmonton Oilers that damaged their Stanley Cup Playoff hopes and dominated the Canucks for the first two periods of a 4-1 victory.

The Dallas Stars arrived overnight after a 4-0 loss in Edmonton on Friday night that left them eight points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference. Dallas and Winnipeg each have seven games remaining.

"There's a real similarity," Desjardins said of the Stars and Avalanche. "Both have some high-end skill players, both teams like to come at you with speed, I think it's a real similar game for us and it's kind of a second chance to be ready. We saw what happened last time."

The Canucks, who have a two point lead on the Los Angeles Kings for second place in the Pacific Division and are three points ahead of the fourth-place Calgary Flames, have also squandered points against non-playoff teams like the Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets and Arizona Coyotes the past month.

Dallas won nine of 11 games before losing to the Oilers, and has beaten the Canucks in six straight, including both this season.

"This is a team that has played some good hockey of late," veteran Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "They are obviously on the outside of the playoffs looking in and probably feel, just like Colorado did, that they have to run the table to give themselves a bit of a chance. So they are a team we have to be very cautious for."

Like the Avalanche, the Stars have a goaltending decision to make against the Canucks.

Colorado gave Reto Berra a surprise start, his first since Nov. 25, and was rewarded with 33 saves and Berra's first win since Nov. 6.

The Stars are expected to start Kari Lehtonen a second straight night despite giving up four goals on 28 shots in Edmonton. Lehtonen has started nine straight games and won seven of them.

Coach Lindy Ruff wouldn't reveal his starting goaltender for the Stars' third game in four nights on their Western Canadian road trip. He did say defenseman Trevor Daley will return after missing 11 games with a knee injury, and indicated there also would be a change among the forwards, with either or both of Ryan Garbutt and Travis Moen coming back into the lineup after being scratched, but Ruff would not reveal what players are coming out in their place.

"He's played a lot of big minutes for us and was having a real good offensive year," Ruff said of Daley. "I just think his veteran experience and legs are something important that we're going to get in tonight."

Ruff is more worried about how his team plays after the Oilers loss.

"We were a step slow, a little too fancy. We opted for one-on-one play versus team play at times and that hurt us," he said. “We slipped up and we have to be ready to put that behind us and move on."

Here are the projected lineups:

STARS

Jamie BennTyler SeguinPatrick Eaves

Cody EakinJason SpezzaAles Hemsky

Antoine RousselVernon FiddlerColton Sceviour

Curtis McKenzieShawn HorcoffBrett Ritchie

Jyrki JokipakkaJohn Klingberg

Patrik NemethAlex Goligoski

Jordie BennJason Demers

Trevor Daley

Kari Lehtonen

Jhonas Enroth

Scratched: Ryan Garbutt, Travis Moen

Injured: None

CANUCKS

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows

Shawn Matthias - Nick Bonino - Radim Vrbata

Chris Higgins - Linden Vey - Derek Dorsett

Ronalds Kenins - Bo Horvat - Jannik Hansen

Alexander EdlerChristopher Tanev

Dan Hamhuis - Yannick Weber

Luca Sbisa - Kevin Bieksa

Eddie Lack

Jacob Markstrom

Scratched: Brandon McMillan, Ryan Stanton

Injured: Ryan Miller (knee), Brad Richardson (ankle), Zack Kassian (back)

Status report: Moen hasn't played since Feb. 17. After missing 13 games with an upper-body injury, he has been considered a healthy scratch the past five games. There was no indication which player Moen might replace in the lineup if he does play. … Richardson will miss his sixth straight game although he was on the ice practicing. He missed nearly two months with a bone bruise and had a setback in his second game back on Mar. 17. … Miller, who sprained his right knee Feb. 22, skated with goalie coach Roland Melanson before practice. Miller is taking shots while wearing a special knee brace, but the Canucks still do not expect him to practice until the final week of the regular season.

Who's hot: Weber has scored in three straight games and has five points in his past four games. Since Weber was moved onto the top power play unit, the Canucks have scored in four straight games with the man advantage after going five games without a goal. … Jamie Benn had four goals and three assists in four games before the shutout loss in Edmonton, and has 15 points in 17 games against the Canucks.

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