The last time the Stars faced the Vancouver Canucks at the AAC, the pride of Northwest Canada stunned the Stars 6-0. Since that loss back on February 11, the Canucks are now two points out of last place in the Pacific Division, and the Stars have seen themselves fall from third in the Central Division to sitting outside the playoff picture. With the Stars coming off a recent stretch of rough play and tough loss, they took to the ice as a more focused and desperate team who looked to end their recent scoring and points woes.
The first period started out slowly for both teams, as the majority of play was held close to the boards. The Stars’ best chance in the first five minutes was a Tyler Seguin blast that Jacob Markström artfully turned away. The Canucks handed the Stars the first power play bid of the night on a bench violation, but a minute into the shift, Esa Lindell was called for interference. Markström remained a brick wall on a two-on-one chance, as Seguin dished a sweet pass to Jamie Benn during the four-on-four shift, only to have the Canucks goaltender bat aside the chance with his pad.
The ten-minute mark of the period came and went with the action calming down into a subtle flow of events, after the penalties of the first five minutes were killed by both sides. The Stars found heir transition game as the period went along, and used sloppy play by the Canucks to generate offense off the rush. The best chance came on an awkward bid by Alexander Radulov, which Markström pushed aside.
The last five minutes began with a tripping call courtesy of Stephen Johns, which gave the Canucks their second power play chance of the period. The Stars penalty kill kicked into high gear, and after forcing the Canucks to shoot the puck up at the Stars line, Mattias Janmark blasted off for a breakaway shorthanded goal.
The 1-0 Dallas lead would be short-lived, as Reid Boucher netted the equalizer on a shot-tip chance, which salvaged the power play for the Canucks thirteen seconds later.
Both goaltenders were stoic in the net, as Lehtonen turned in a strong period, and Markström fought off all but one of the Dallas bids.
The second period began with a flurry of chances for both sides, as momentum seemed to flow with each shift. Both goaltenders stood tall, and the play in front of them was filled with both mistakes and chances. The Stars had a minor injury scare, as it appeared that a skate blade got into the face of Seguin. Thankfully, it was just the boot that caught him, not the blade. He didn’t miss a shift after the collision, and recorded a shot on goal from a tough angle. Overall, the first ten minutes of the period were fast, eventful hockey by both sides, with very few whistles. The Seguin-Benn-Radulov line continued to generate chances each time out.
Lehtonen, to his credit, mopped up a couple of chances from the Canucks off of sloppy play by the Stars in their own zone with under nine minutes left. All the dogged work by the Canucks resulted in a high-sticking double minor penalty by Seguin, which was the Canucks’ third power play of the night. The Stars kiled the first half of the penalty, due to key saves by Lehtonen and key clears by the penalty-kill line. The Stars nearly killed off the full four minutes, but gave up their second power play goal of the night with one second left to Nic Dowd.
The Stars came out heavy after the second goal by the Canucks, as Antoine Roussel drove to the net hard on the next shift. However, as the period bled into the final minutes, the Stars were turned away by Markström each time they shot the puck on net. The Stars found extended zone time as the period came to a close, but couldn’t get a shot through the Canucks defense.
Score: 2-1 Vancouver
SOG: 22-19 Dallas
The third period began with the Stars throwing pucks towards Markström as they tried to capitalize off of turnovers by the Canucks in their own zone. After a good start to the period by the Stars, the team set off a fifth power play for the Canucks, due to a tripping call on Curtis McKenzie. After a dangerous-looking power play, the Stars survived by killing their third Vancouver attempt with the man-advantage.
Following the penalty kill, the Stars rushed back into the Vancouver zone, and began to cycle the puck with the line of Radek Faksa, Roussel, and Tyler Pitlick line on the ice. The Stars came close with a Roussel deflection that went just wide. The boys in victory green took advantage of two icings in a row by the Canucks and finally earned their second power play of the game, thanks to a delay-of-game call on Tyler Motte. However, the Stars fumbled their way through the two minutes, and recorded no shots on goal as they essentially killed the penalty themselves.
Things went from bad to worse for the Stars, as Jake Virtanen fired a soft shot on goal, that snuck by Lehtonen to give the Canucks a 3-1 lead at the ten-minute mark. The goal resulted in a noticeable sag in energy on the Stars’ bench, as the Canucks leaned on the Stars in their own end. The Stars got a chance to get back into the game with a power play that came from a cross-checking penalty by Michael Del Zotto in front of the Vancouver net. However, not much was directed at the Vancouver goal by the Stars while on the man advantage. The power play ended early for the second time, as John Klingberg took a holding call after a bad pass by Benn. This opened up an opportunity for Motte to attempt a near breakaway shorthanded shot, but Lehtonen was able to block it.
The Stars killed the remaining Canucks power play with three minutes remaining in regulation, and kept their hopes in the game alive. Hitchcock pulled Lehtonen with three minutes left to give the Stars a man advantage, and the Stars came close on two hard shots by Seguin late in the final minutes. However, the Canucks weathered the storm and Motte scored into the empty net to make it 4-1 and seal the victory over Dallas. The Stars now trail the St. Louis Blues by five points for the last wild-card spot.
Janmark recorded his 19th goal of the season and McKenzie recorded his 99th NHL game. The Stars recorded a shorthanded goal for the second consecutive game. They also surrendered two power play goals, an even-strength goal, and empty net goal. The Stars are now 0-6-2 in their last eight games.
The Stars will face the Philadelphia Flyers in Dallas on Tuesday, March 27 at 7:30 p.m. Central.