VANCOUVER – Brenden Dillon doesn’t cheer for the Vancouver Canucks anymore.
Dillon, a 22-year-old native of the Vancouver suburb of Surrey, B.C., proved the point emphatically Friday night.
Playing his first NHL game in his hometown, he spoiled his childhood hero Henrik Sedin’s historic night by scoring the winning goal with just over three minutes left in the game as the Dallas Stars came back to beat the Canucks 4-3.
“It’s awesome to (score the winner) in front of friends and family,” said Dillon. “This is my first trip here to play in front of Rogers Arena—ever. I grew up watching guys like (Daniel and Henrik Sedin), guys like (Roberto) Luongo.”
Dillon stole the show from Henrik Sedin after the Canucks captain became Vancouver’s all-time leading scorer, earning two assists to surpass former teammate Markus Naslund. Sedin now has 757 career points, one ahead of Naslund. The former teammates hail from the same hometown of Ornskoldsvik, Sweden.
“I don’t know if I should be telling too many people that I’ve got (posters) of (former Canuck) Pavel Bure and the Sedins on my wall back home,” said Dillon. “But it was definitely a pretty cool experience to come in here and play these guys. It was an even better feeling to get the win tonight.”
The Stars (8-6-1) posted their fifth win in six games. The loss ended Vancouver’s winning streak at six games as the Canucks saw their record fall to 8-3-2.
Dillon toiled for Texas of the AHL during the NHL lockout and played only one other game for Dallas last season. He gave the Stars the lead for the first time as he slid behind coverage from his defensive position and fired in Jamie Benn’s cross-ice pass into the top corner of the net.
“It was a great play by Benn,” said Dillon. “It was right on my stick and it was awesome.”
The goal was Dillon’s third of the season—and his NHL career, but he said it meant more than his first. The winning goal came before 15-20 friends and family members, whose tickets were purchased by the player.
“Good thing we got paid today, because I was running short (of cash) after I bought those tickets,” said Dillon.
Reilly Smith, Cody Eakin and Antoine Roussel also scored for the Stars, who overcame a 3-1 deficit.
Daniel Sedin, Chris Higgins and Alex Burrows replied for the Canucks.
Dillon was on the ice for Higgins’ goal. Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said the rookie blue-liner made up for a slow start.
“I thought that early on he was a little tentative,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “But then he settled in and scored a huge goal for us.
“When you’re talking young defencemen playing against some of the best players in the world on this ice right now, I think he did a pretty good job of settling himself in. … I’m proud of the way he battled back in this game.”
The Stars coach was also impressed with backup goaltender Richard Bachman, who picked up the win in relief of injured starter Kari Lehtonen. After allowing three goals on the first six shots he faced, Bachman stopped 15 straight shots to finish with 21 saves.
“It’s never fun coming in cold,” said Bachman. “That’s a good team with a lot of skill, and they started running especially at the end of the second period, and then we started knocking.
“You just try to stay calm and forget about everything that’s going on.”
Dallas outshot Vancouver 29-28. The Stars were blanked on four power plays, while the Canucks could not convert on three.
“I don’t really know what happened,” said Henrik Sedin. “We played a good game up to the halfway point and then they took over. Giving up four goals five-on-five, that never happens with this team. Even though they had a few fortunate bounces, they took over the game.”
Lehtonen left in the first period after stopping all seven shots he faced. Gulutzan said Lehtonen suffered a lower-body injury and will be re-evaluated when the team returns to Dallas.
The Canucks got goals 53 seconds apart from Higgins and Daniel Sedin in the second period to take a 2-1 lead. Henrik Sedin took sole possession of Vancouver’s all-time points record midway through the second as he sent a cross-ice pass to Burrows, giving Vancouver a 3-1 lead.
But three fights broke out later in the second period, and the Stars gained momentum. Eakin brought Dallas to within a goal at 17:50 of the second and Roussel drew the Stars even at 12:22 of the third as he stuffed in a loose puck during a scramble.
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said Schneider would have liked to have a couple of goals back, but his teammates did not support him offensively.
“He’s baled us out so many times before that we need to find ways to be able to win those games when the opportunity is there,” said Vigneault.
“The opportunity was there—and we didn’t do it.”
The loss also spoiled the return of Canucks centre Ryan Kesler after he recovered from shoulder and wrist surgery. He earned an assist in his first game since last spring’s playoffs.
Notes: In the middle bout, fellow Ivy Leaguers Aaron Volpatti of Vancouver and Ryan Garbutt of Dallas squared off. Volpatti and Garbutt were teammates during three seasons at Brown. … Dallas winger Ray Whitney, 40, sat out his seventh straight game with a foot injury. … Stars winger Jaromir Jagr turned 41 on Friday. … Canucks defencemen Andrew Alberts and Cam Barker were scratched for the 13th straight game. They have yet to play this season. Vancouver forward Andrew Ebbett was also scratched. … Friday’s game was the first of three meetings between Dallas and Vancouver this season. … Stars defenceman Aaron Rome played his first game against his former Canucks team since leaving last summer as a free agent.