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Canucks hold off Stars for 4-3 win

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- The Vancouver Canucks were determined that their three-game losing streak wasn't going to get any bigger.

Third-period goals by Jason Garrison and Henrik Sedin less than two minutes apart were enough to give the Canucks a 4-3 victory against the Dallas Stars on Thursday night at American Airlines Center.

"I think it was important for our team to put together a better two-way effort and I thought we did that tonight," said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, whose team was 0-1-2 in its three previous games. "Even though we started off on our heels a little bit, I thought the guys responded after that."

Garrison broke a 2-2 tie when he beat rookie goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp with a slapper from the point at 2:32 of the final period. Sedin scored on an easy tap-in at 4:18 after he and Alexandre Burrows executed a 2-on-1 to perfection.

Brenden Morrow scored an unassisted goal at 6:07 after stealing the puck from Ryan Kesler, but Cory Schneider was perfect the rest of the way, finishing with 22 saves for his fifth victory of the season. The Stars put themselves in a hole in the final minutes when Derek Roy was called for hooking with 2:01 remaining in regulation, and the Canucks successfully played keep-away in the last 60 seconds.

"Yeah, they're a real good team," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. "I thought that we had chances to get ahead and maybe stay ahead, but we didn't convert. But overall, I thought that our work ethic was strong tonight, but it's a result-based business and we didn't get the result."

Nilstorp made 18 saves to fall to 0-3-0 in his short career.

"I thought he made some good saves," Gulutzan said. "I think there was maybe one there that he would have played a little differently. But he gave us a chance and I thought he was OK."

Dallas was on the attack almost from the drop of the puck, getting its first chance 23 seconds in when a 25-foot wrister by Jaromir Jagr was denied by Schneider. But Jamie Benn gave the Stars a 1-0 lead 12 seconds later by whipping a quick wrister from just off the right post into the far side of the Canucks net. Benn saw his initial effort deflected by Vancouver's Zack Kassian but after the carom fell to his skates, he quickly converted for his fifth of the season.

Vancouver tied it at 8:29 when Burrows deflected Alexander Edler's long power-play wrister into the short side. The goal came 40 seconds after Dallas rookie Reilly Smith was called for interference on Vancouver's Kevin Bieksa.

"It's never good to give up a goal in the first minute of the game, so it was good to show some resilience and we didn't crack under that," Schneider said. "Our power play got us a big goal. They've been scoring some timely ones the last few games. It was nice to sort of return the favor and come back on them a couple of times in their building."

The Stars reclaimed the lead when Michael Ryder beat Schneider with a 15-foot backhand 2:39 into the second period for his fifth of the season. Ryder collected a loose puck and shot across his body as he entered the left circle to end an eight-game goalless streak.

But the Canucks answered again, tying the game at 7:05 when Bieksa beat Nilstorp through the five-hole with a short backhander. Dan Hamhuis fed Bieksa from behind the Canucks' net, and Bieksa dashed up the right side of the ice, broke past the defense and beat Nilstorp.

"It was more of a complete effort from us for sure tonight," Bieksa said. "I don't know what else to say. It wasn't the prettiest game at times, but it was a hard-fought game with a lot of board battles, lot of blocked shots, lot of diving plays and lot of big saves. That's what it takes to win sometimes."

Vancouver visits Nashville on Friday night in the third game of a four-game trip, while the Stars have a night off before San Jose comes to town on Saturday in the finale of a three-game homestand.

Vigneault was pleased with the way his team bounced back after back-to-back shootout losses and an early goal.

"I'm really happy the way we responded," Vigneault said. "They came out on that first shift and they capitalized on a couple of our puck decisions and made it 1-0 early. But we were able to stick to the plan and after two periods, we had a tie game. It was another one of those hard-fought games."

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