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Stars, Canucks look to build off first wins @NHLdotcom

STARS (1-0-2) at CANUCKS (1-3-0)

Season Series:
First of four meetings this season. Each team won twice last season, but Vancouver captured the series by virtue of most points, going 2-1-1 with a shootout loss. Roberto Luongo won both his starts against Dallas, while Ryan Kesler led all scorers in the series with three goals.

Big Story: Looking to bounce back from a rare non-playoff season, Dallas has captured points in all three of its games. Vancouver, the defending Northwest Division champion, got off to an awful start but regained a lot of confidence by routing Montreal by a 7-1 score on Wednesday.

Team Scope:

Stars: This is the conclusion of a three-game road trip through western Canada for Dallas, which rested starting goalie Marty Turco against Calgary on Friday and got a solid performance from new backup Alex Auld. Turco should be back in net on Sunday, but after he struggled late last season under a heavy workload, the early indication that Auld should be reliable has to be welcome news for the Stars.

"I thought he managed the game pretty well tonight," coach Marc Crawford said. "I was pleased with his positioning. His puck-handling was pretty good too, and you can see Marty's influence. It's great to see Alex add some of that dimension to his game."

Canucks: Nothing less than two points was needed against Montreal to prevent panic from setting in, and Vancouver delivered it with authority. One win doesn't erase the poor start the Canucks got off to, however, and the next step is to try to put a winning streak together.

"It's nice to get the win finally after four games," Luongo said after stopping 27 shots to beat the Canadiens. "We spoke about relaxing before the game and just going out there and just having fun, playing our game, and not worry about our record right now."

Who's Hot: James Neal has three goals in three games for the Stars, while Stephane Robidas has contributed big-time from the blue line with a goal and three points, while averaging 23:29 of ice time on a team-leading 31 shifts per game.

Henrik Sedin has gotten off to a fast start for the Canucks, with three goals and three assists. He's also won 63.5 percent of his faceoffs.

Injury Report: Dallas forward Jere Lehtinen is nearing a return from a groin injury and is a possibility for this game, while forward Mike Modano is nursing cracked ribs and is questionable.

Vancouver may be without half of its dynamic duo, as forward Daniel Sedin is uncertain to play with a deep bone bruise on his right heel. Defenseman Mathieu Schneider and forward Pavol Demitra remain out with shoulder injuries.

Stat Pack:
The power play was a big key to Vancouver's offense busting out against Montreal, as the Canucks went 3-for-5 with the man advantage. Turco has fared well in 11 previous games at GM Place, going 7-3-1 with a 2.38 goals-against average.

Puck Drop: It's a homecoming of sorts for Auld, though he's not likely to see action unless something happens with Turco. He began his NHL career by playing parts of four seasons in Vancouver, and won 33 games as the starter in 2005-06. Since then, Auld has made stops in Florida, Phoenix, Boston and Ottawa before landing in Dallas.  

-- Brian Hunter,


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