Skip to main content

Headlines

Canucks-Stars Preview

NHL.com @NHL

The Dallas Stars plan to give both of their goaltenders plenty of action down the stretch. The Vancouver Canucks, meanwhile, are on the opposite end of that line of thinking.

Roberto Luongo and the Northwest Division-leading Canucks look to match a season high with their seventh straight victory on Sunday when they visit the Stars.

The offseason trade that brought Luongo to Vancouver from Florida for Todd Bertuzzi could not have worked out any better for the Canucks (36-21-4), who have gone 19-3-3 since Christmas to take over the top spot in the Northwest.

Luongo, among the NHL leaders in wins (35), minutes (3,332) and save percentage (.922), is a leading contender for the Vezina and Hart Trophies. Bertuzzi, meanwhile, hasn't played for the Panthers since Oct. 18 due to a back injury.

Vancouver won 3-2 at Los Angeles on Thursday as Luongo stopped 31 shots and Kevin Bieska scored the go-ahead goal with 3:54 left in regulation.

Luongo is a big reason why the Canucks lead the league with an 88.7 penalty-kill percentage. Thursday marked the 12th time this season Vancouver has had to kill eight or more power plays in a game, and its record in those contests is 8-4.

"Everybody's on the same page on the penalty kill," Luongo said. "A lot of guys are blocking shots, getting into the shooting lanes and paying the price. The rule of thumb is that if they can't block it, get out of the way so I can see the puck. And when I see it, most of the time I'll be able to stop it."

Brendan Morrison scored on a power play and Trevor Linden also had a goal for the Canucks, who have won each of their last six games by one goal and are 11-1-1 in their last 13 on the road.

Another reason behind Vancouver's strong play is the resurgence of captain Markus Naslund and center Brendan Morrison.

Naslund, a three-time 40-goal scorer, has five goals and 10 assists in his last 12 games, while Morrison has five goals and three assists in his past six contests.

While Luongo plays virtually every game for Vancouver, both Marty Turco and rookie backup Mike Smith have seen plenty of time lately for Dallas (36-21-3).

Smith made 24 saves, Jussi Jokinen and rookie Krys Barch each had a goal and an assist, and the Stars tightened the Pacific Division race with a 4-1 victory over Anaheim on Friday.

Dallas is 10-3-2 in its last 15 games, including 7-1-1 at home, to pull within five points of the division-leading Ducks.

"That was as good a team effort as we've had all year," Smith said. "First place seemed out of reach a couple of months ago. Now it isn't. We want to win the division and this helps."

Smith was in net for the fourth time in the last seven games, including three starts. He is 4-1 with a 1.15 goals-against average over his last five starts.

"We've talked since training camp about wanting to go down the stretch with two (goalies) ready to play," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "And we've got that. March will be very busy for us. We'll need both of them."

All three meetings between these teams this season have resulted in 2-1 scores. The Stars won the first matchup in Dallas, but the Canucks have taken the last two on home ice.

The Canucks have lost five in a row at Dallas, getting outscored 15-5 since winning there on March 17, 2003.

View More