VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — The Vancouver Canucks’
franchise-record, home-winning streak not only got them back
into the Western Conference playoff race, it could also provide
a postseason advantage.
Ryan Kesler and Mats Sundin each had a goal and an assist, and
the Canucks beat the Dallas Stars, 4-2, on Tuesday night for
their 10th straight home win.
“No other team has done it wearing a Canucks sweater, so it’s
good to have your name in the record book,” said Kesler, who has
seven points during a four-game streak. “Ten in a row on home
ice, that’s not easy to do nowadays.”
It’s even more remarkable considering it was preceded by a
nine-game, home-losing streak. Vancouver was 0-6-3 at GM Place
through Jan. 31 and looking like a playoff long shot. But the
Canucks haven’t lost at home since.
They broke the mark set in 1992, and have gone 15-3-1 overall to
move into a tie with slumping Chicago for fourth place in the
tight Western Conference. Now the Canucks have a shot at
home-ice advantage in the first playoff round.
“We want to establish something good at home,” said Roberto
Luongo, who finished with 24 saves. “It’s a good momentum
Steve Ott pulled the Stars within a goal eight minutes into the
third, but Steve Bernier restored the two-goal cushion with 5
minutes left, finishing off a tic-tac-toe passing play on a
4-on-2 rush after a Dallas defender broke his stick.
Stephane Robidas also scored, and Marty Turco stopped 21 shots
as the injury-riddled Stars had a two-game winning streak
snapped. Dallas dropped into a ninth-place tie with Minnesota,
one point behind Edmonton and Nashville in the West.
“It s tough,” said Ott, who added an assist to his career-best
16th goal. “We can’t afford right now to come away empty-handed
in the points department.”
Daniel Sedin scored the other goal for the Canucks, who closed
within three points of Calgary for the Northwest Division lead
and the No. 3 playoff seed.
“You do glance at the standings once in a while and realize
we’re getting close to teams ahead of us, so we’ve just got to
keep plugging away,” Luongo said.
Vancouver converted both power-play opportunities, and the Stars
went 1-for-6 with the man advantage, including a failed 5-on-3
edge early in the third.
“We got power plays, and instead of using that to generate
momentum it’s taking momentum away from us,” coach Dave Tippett
said of the Stars’ power play that ranks second to last in the
NHL on the road (13.5 percent).
The Stars did get one, as Sedin and Robidas traded power-play
goals in the first period. Sedin ended a 10-game goal drought
when his no-look backhand pass through the crease bounced in off
Robidas as he tried to block the shot.
The Dallas defenseman got a break 10 minutes later with a
fluttering one-timer from the point that somehow went through a
crowd in front, by Luongo, off the post, and in.
The Stars got top-six forward Jere Lehtinen back after he missed
six games due to an upper-body injury, but are still missing
forwards Brad Richards (broken wrist), Fabian Brunnstrom (upper
body), Toby Peterson (foot) and Mark Parrish (head).
“Our power play has definitely struggled,” Ott said. “You can
say what you want when you’ve got key guys out the lineup like
Richards, but still we have to find a way and get this road
power play clicking, especially if we want to stick around for
playoff time and do something with it in the playoffs, as well.”
Kesler put the Canucks ahead 7 minutes into the second period
and helped set up Sundin’s insurance goal on the power play less
than 4 minutes later.
“He was our most effective player,” Canucks coach Alain
Vigneault said of Kesler.
Sundin, who also earned the second assist on Kesler’s goal,
one-timed a shot under Turco for his eighth point in eight