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GAME: Vancouver Canucks (37-22-10-4) at Dallas Stars (36-24-13-0).

TIME: Thursday, 8:30 p.m. EST.

Time is running out on the Vancouver Canucks and Dallas Stars as they try to win their respective divisions.

With just nine games remaining for each team, the Canucks and Stars continue their pursuit of first place when they play the first of two meetings between the clubs in the next 10 days.

Vancouver is in second in the Northwest Division, trailing Colorado by five points. Dallas, meanwhile, is three points behind San Jose in the Pacific Division.

The Stars blew a golden opportunity to move within one point of the Sharks on Tuesday night, allowing San Jose to score two goals in the final 1:37 and settling for a 3-3 tie.

Dallas extended its franchise-record home unbeaten streak to 15 games (11-0-4), but it was just a consolation after it carried a 3-0 lead into the third period.

"This feels like a loss," Dallas forward Bill Guerin said. "What a way to give away points. It's brutal."

Dallas has just one win in its last five contests following a nine-game unbeaten streak.

"We threw away two points, but there's still games left and we've got to learn from our mistakes tonight and move on," said Stars center Jason Arnott, who had two goals. "We definitely screwed up and we know it."

Vancouver also wasted an opportunity to pick up ground Tuesday as it allowed the tying goal with 22 seconds remaining in a 2-2 draw with Nashville. Colorado lost earlier in the evening to Montreal.

With the tie, Vancouver stayed three points up on Dallas in the race for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

"Look on the bright side of it, we picked up a point on Colorado tonight and we didn't lose a point on anyone we're chasing," Canucks coach Marc Crawford said.

Dallas has won both meetings with Vancouver this season, and is 5-1 in the last six games in the series.

The Canucks and Stars conclude their season series March 27 in Vancouver.

STANDINGS: Canucks - 88 points, 2nd place, 5 PB, Northwest Division. Stars - 85 points, 2nd place, 3 PB, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Canucks - Markus Naslund, 32 goals, 45 assists and 77 points; Jarkko Ruutu, 131 PIM. Stars - Guerin, 31 goals and 60 points; Arnott and Sergei Zubov, 33 assists; Steve Ott, 148 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 16): Canucks - Power play: 15.3 percent (53 for 346), 19th in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.9 percent (281 for 327), 3rd. Stars - Power play: 16.5 percent (49 for 297), 15th. Penalty killing: 85.2 percent (230 for 270), 6th.

GOALTENDERS: Canucks - Dan Cloutier (27-20-6, 4 SO, 2.37 GAA); Johan Hedberg (8-5-2, 3, 2.30). Stars - Marty Turco (32-21-13, 7, 2.04); Ron Tugnutt (3-3-0, 1, 1.95).

SEASON SERIES: Stars, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 19; Stars, 3-2. At Vancouver, British Columbia, Turco made 10 of his 25 saves in the third period, and David Oliver scored the winner midway through the second period to lift the Stars.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canucks - 20-10-3-4 on the road; Stars - 23-6-8-0 at home.

Associated Press
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