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Stars-Canucks Preview

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GAME: Dallas Stars (41-19-3) at Vancouver Canucks (35-23-6).

TIME: Saturday, 10 p.m. EST.

The Vancouver Canucks acquired three defensemen on Thursday to reinforce an injury-depleted and struggling blue line.

Among the busiest NHL clubs at the trade deadline, the Canucks expect to have their new additions on the ice when they host the Dallas Stars.

The Canucks acquired two long-time fixtures in the league, 39-year-old Eric Weinrich from St. Louis and 36-year-old Keith Carney from Anaheim. They also picked up veteran defenseman Sean Brown from New Jersey.

The moves should improve a defense that has had trouble keeping the Canucks in games lately. They have held opponents to fewer than three goals just twice in the team's last 10 games.

Injuries can partially be blamed for Vancouver's porous defense. Ed Jovanovski had abdominal surgery and isn't expected back for at least three weeks. Sami Salo is being evaluated weekly for a shoulder strain and Mattias Ohlund has been out with rib and shoulder ailments suffered at the Olympics.

"On the back end, we're going to get some bodies back but the timing is uncertain," Canucks general manager Dave Nonis said. "We felt we needed some character and strength on the back end."

None of the new additions reached Vancouver for Thursday's 3-2 overtime loss to the Nashville Predators, but Ohlund returned, played nearly 31 minutes and made the power play better.

The Canucks never trailed Thursday until Nashville's David Legwand scored 6 seconds into overtime. He intercepted defenseman Nolan Baumgartner's errant pass just inside the Vancouver blue line, used Bryan Allen as a screen and snapped a shot past goalie Alex Auld's blocker.

Twice the Canucks relinquished one-goal leads in the third period on goals by Nashville's Steve Sullivan.

"I thought we had a great start and played a real solid 40 minutes," Auld said. "That's a good team over there and they came at us with all they had in the third."

Auld has some new competition for playing time, with the Canucks also acquiring goalie Mika Noronen from Buffalo on Thursday. The five-year veteran got only four starts for the Sabres this season after going 11-17-2 with a 2.57 goals-against average in 2003-04.

Whichever goalie is in net for Buffalo would benefit from the Canucks getting on track offensively, having scored only 10 goals en route to a 2-2-1 record since the Olympic break. Anson Carter has four of those goals.

Dallas was less active Thursday than Vancouver, but did add Willie Mitchell in a deal with Minnesota. A solid, stay-at-home defenseman known for shutting down the opposition in his own zone, Mitchell is expected to join the team to face the Canucks.

The Stars couldn't crack Calgary goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff Thursday night in a 1-0 loss to the Flames.

The loss ended a three-game winning streak during which Dallas scored 15 goals, including six on the power play.

The Stars were 0-for-7 with the man advantage Thursday, including a two-man advantage for 1:08 of the third period. Sergei Zubov, Brendan Morrow and Mike Modano each had dangerous shots during that stretch but Kiprusoff stopped each one.

"We did exactly what we wanted to do," Modano said. "We got great looks at the net, we moved the puck around well, we had good point blank shots. We did everything but put it in."

The Stars close a four-game road trip in Vancouver before the teams head to Dallas for a rematch on Monday.

STANDINGS: Stars - 85 points, 1st place, Pacific Division. Canucks - 76 points, 3rd place, 3 PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Stars - Jere Lehtinen, 28 goals; Zubov, 45 assists; Jason Arnott, 60 points; Morrow, 143 PIM. Canucks - Markus Naslund, 28 goals and 64 points; Henrik Sedin, 46 assists; Jarkko Ruutu, 105 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Stars - Power play: 16.2 percent (64 for 394), 22nd in NHL. Penalty killing: 83 percent (322 for 388), 12th (tied). Canucks - Power play: 18.2 percent (77 for 424), 11th (tied). Penalty killing: 81.5 percent (330 for 405), 19th.

GOALTENDERS: Stars - Marty Turco (32-16-3, 3 SO, 2.61 GAA); Johan Hedberg (9-3-0, 0, 2.75). Canucks - Auld (27-18-4, 0, 2.88); Noronen (1-2-0, 4.27).

SEASON SERIES: 1-1.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 4; Stars, 3-1. At Dallas, the Stars trailed 1-0 after two periods, but Steve Ott, Arnott and Modano scored in the final eight minutes for the win. Turco made 20 saves while Auld stopped 34 shots.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Stars - 20-9-2 on the road; Canucks - 20-6-4 at home.

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