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Stars fight fatigue, Canucks battle injuries after four OT opener @NHL

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - The Dallas Stars know better than most how hard it can be to overcome a long overtime loss.

The Stars' five-overtime loss to Anaheim in 2003 was one of five games in NHL history that went longer than Wednesday night's 5-4 defeat to the Vancouver Canucks, which actually ended early Thursday morning local time after 78:06 of overtime.

Dallas played 80:48 before losing its series opener to the Ducks in 2003, then lost Game 2 just 1:44 into overtime. The Stars lost that conference semifinal series to Anaheim in six games, and hope to use lessons from it to bounce back against Vancouver.

"If you win, you feel like you're on top of the world. If you lose you feel like you're never going to win another game," said Mike Modano, whose Stars have now lost five straight overtime playoff games. "But you have to forget about that."

With Game 2 starting at 6 p.m. in Vancouver on Friday night - less than 42 hours after Game 1 finally ended - there isn't much time to dwell on the past. With players on both teams in need of intravenous fluids between overtime periods and after Wednesday's marathon to stay hydrated, they're happy to forget about it.

"Physically you're going to feel it a bit and you just try to do what you can to get regrouped," Modano said. "It's not much prep time, but that's the time of the year; the team with depth, four lines and can play everybody has a good chance."

While the NHL has gone to shootouts to break ties during the regular season, it has stuck with the classic full overtimes to decide playoff games. That can lead to marathons, but it's what most players favor.

"I think that's great. I think that's what makes the playoffs unique," said Ottawa forward Dany Heatley. "There are long games and there are going to be more of them, I'm sure, throughout the playoffs. You've got to know that at the end of the day when you've gone through five or six overtimes you're dead tired and all it takes is one shot or one mistake, and that's one of the great things about the playoffs."

San Jose captain Patrick Marleau said he watched some of the Canucks-Stars game and was glad it wasn't his Sharks, especially not in the first game of the playoffs. But he wouldn't have it end any other way in the postseason.

"It's definitely the way it needs to be settled this time of year," Marleau said. "You play too hard all game to have it settled with a shootout, so it's a team game and that's the way it should be played."

The Canucks likely would prefer much shorter nights, especially because in addition to overall fatigue they are fighting injuries. Already missing defenseman Brent Sopel, who threw out his back picking up a cracker on the eve of the first game, Vancouver lost penalty-killing forwards Matt Cooke and Alexandre Burrows during the game, and found out afterward that center Ryan Kesler broke his finger.

Kesler finished the game despite fracturing the finger blocking a shot in "the sixth or seventh overtime," according to Canucks coach Alain Vigneault.

"He's getting operated on and putting pins in there right now as we speak, so he'll be out anywhere from four to five weeks," said Vigneault.

It's a tough blow for Kesler, a surprise starter in Game 1 just 10 weeks after undergoing hip surgery that was supposed to require a 12-to-16 week recovery.

"The reason he was ahead of schedule was all the work he put in," Vigneault said. "That said, in our case he hasn't been with us since the end of January and we still found a way to win. We just go back to what we were doing before."

Cooke, who left the game late in the second period, and Burrows, who skated wobbly off the ice in the first overtime after getting slammed face-first into the glass, are both listed as day to day. Burrows insisted he didn't suffer the first concussion of his career and hopes to play in Game 2.

"I didn't have headaches or symptoms. I'm recovered and good to go," he said.

Despite playing more than five hours Wednesday, most of the Stars regulars were on the ice for an afternoon practice, including defenseman Sergei Zubov, who played a game-high 55:08 and has now been involved in three of the six longest NHL games.

"The attitude in the dressing room is excellent today," said Stars coach Dave Tippett. "We've been so resilient all year, put ourselves behind the 8-ball so many times and dug ourselves out, and that was the attitude this morning. Guys were asking, `What do I do today to get prepared for tomorrow. You saw it by the number of guys who wanted to go on the ice today and get their legs."

The Canucks didn't skate, opting for off-ice sessions on exercise bikes

"I'll tell you what, the nervousness was gone by the second or third overtime," said Roberto Luongo, who faced a record 76 shots in his playoff debut, stopping all 36 in overtime after giving up four on 40 shots and admitting to some nerves in regulation. "I'm still trying to recuperate a bit, just get some rest and make sure you rehydrate and get some energy back for tomorrow night."

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