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Stars try to stay perfect against Canucks

by John Kreiser
CANUCKS (43-21-9) at STARS (40-25-5)

TV: SNET-Pacific (HD); FS-Southwest (HD)

Last 10:
Vancouver 3-5-2; Dallas 7-2-1

Season Series:
It's the third of four meetings this season -- the teams meet again in Vancouver on March 30. The Stars have won each of the first two, including a 3-2 overtime win in the Canucks' first visit to the American Airlines Center on Feb. 26.

Big Story: The Canucks have all but clinched the Northwest Division and are stumbling toward the finish line. But the Stars have no such assurances -- they're trying to hold on to first place in a four-way scramble for the top spot in the Pacific Division that could see the three non-winners all miss the playoffs.

Team Scope:

The team that led the NHL in goal last season continues to struggle to put the puck in the net. Jannik Hansen scored 27 seconds into Wednesday's game in Chicago, but the Canucks couldn't score again and wound up losing 2-1 in overtime despite a 35-save performance by Roberto Luongo.

But the bigger loss was Daniel Sedin, who left after taking a high elbow from Chicago's Duncan Keith in the first period. The Canucks say he has an upper-body injury and will be re-evaluated today, but it doesn't appear he'll be in the lineup against Dallas.

The Canucks played with more intensity after the incident, but still couldn't get the goal they needed. Still, coach Alain Vigneault was happy with what he saw.

"I thought our battle and compete level was real strong," Vigneault said. "We were obviously a little bit ticked off with the hit in the second and might have lost a little bit of our composure. We were able to kill all the five penalties that we took, so that says a lot about our commitment. I thought we played well in the third and really had some quality chances, but weren't able to finish."

Stars: Dallas gave away one point in its last game, but went home with two after beating Phoenix 4-3 in a shootout despite blowing a 3-1 third-period lead. The victory kept the Stars on top in the Pacific Division, but they know they can't keep allowing the teams they're battling for playoff position to steal points.

"Pretty much every game is a seventh game, that's the way we have to look at it," center Michael Ryder said. "For us to make sure we keep moving forward we have to cut down on those little mistakes at the end of games and not give up two-goal leads."

Who's Hot: Vancouver goaltender Cory Schneider has allowed just eight goals in his last five games. … Dallas' Loui Eriksson has three goals and six points in his last three games. Ryder had a pair of goals and an assist against Phoenix, and his 32 goals are a career high.

Injury Report: Sedin isn't likely to play; Vancouver is also without forward Andrew Ebbett (broken collarbone) until next month. Defenseman Keith Ballard (concussion) is gone for the season. … Dallas defenseman Marc Fistric will sit with a strained abdominal muscle.

Stat Pack: Dallas is 12-3-0 against Northwest Division teams, outscoring its opponent 45-30 in those games. The Stars were 8-9-3 against the Northwest last season. … Dallas is 9-1-1 against Canadian-based teams.

Puck Drop: The loss of Daniel Sedin for any length of time could be damaging to the Canucks. But twin brother Henrik said he was happy with the way the team responded.

"We had a big talk today before the game and this is the way we need to play," he told the Vancouver Province. "This is the way we played last year when we were successful. We're not going to win every game, but we're going to win most if we play like this."

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