VANCOUVER – The struggling Vancouver Canucks ended a frustrating winless streak by putting forth a complete team effort.
Scoring seven goals against a tough opponent didn’t hurt either.
Seven players shared the scoring Monday as the Canucks routed the Dallas Stars 7-1 and snapped a four-game winless streak.
“That was the biggest thing,” said Canucks forward Ryan Kesler, who ended up scoring the game-winning goal early in the first period.
“Everybody contributed tonight whether it was a blocked shot, a goal, an assist or just taking a hit to make a play.”
Vancouver tied Philadelphia for the overall NHL lead by ending a streak that included a 4-0 loss, an overtime defeat and two shootout losses.
“We know the way we need to play,” said Kesler, who broke a 1-1 tie in the first period by tipping Alex Edler’s power-play point shot behind goalie Kari Lehtonen.
“We saw improvement in every game. We were losing games in shootouts and overtimes. I just think it’s the confidence in here that we know we can win every night and it’s our job to go out and do it.
“Really, it was just a greasy win with a lot of greasy goals and that’s the way we need to play.”
Christian Ehrhoff blasted another shot through traffic one minute 21 seconds after Kesler’s goal as the Canucks scored the second of their three power-play goals and took control of the game.
Lehtonen, who was lifted in a 4-1 loss to the Canucks in Dallas on Dec. 31, didn’t fare much better on Monday.
Coach Marc Crawford didn’t give him the mercy hook until 13:12 of the final period.
The Canucks improved to 30-10-9 as the Stars absorbed their fourth straight loss in Vancouver.
Vancouver, the Northwest Division leaders, also moved five points ahead of Detroit and six ahead of Pacific Division-leading Dallas in the Western Conference.
The Stars dropped to 29-15-5 by losing their second straight game while yielding seven goals. Calgary ended their club-record string of eight road victories with a 7-4 decision on Friday.
“It’s humbling, and by some small measure, maybe, it puts us back in our place,” said Crawford who called the 1-1 tie early in the first period “the highlight of our team tonight.”
Alex Burrows scored on Vancouver’s first shot of the game, a puck that seemed to handcuff Lehtonen as it went by his glove.
He had only four saves after Kesler and Ehrhoff scored.
Lehtonen’s night went from bad to worse. Henrik Sedin, who had a pair of assists to run his league-leading total to 50, was credited with a goal that went in off the skate of Steve Ott.
Ott was desperately trying to break up the play by sliding into his goalie’s crease.
Mikael Samuelsson, Mason Raymond and Dan Hamhuis were Vancouver’s other snipers as Samuelsson and Raymond ended goal droughts of 14 and 12 games, respectively.
“It was a long time ago,” Samuelsson said after his quick hard wrist shot went over Lehtonen’s blocker. “Shocked … I don’t know if that’s the right word but I felt good to see it go in.”
He felt it was just a matter of time before the Canucks bumped their mini-slump after a 17-1-2 run between Nov. 24 and Jan. 8.
“You’ve got to remember what took us here,” he said after scoring his ninth goal of the season. “It’s always nice to see different guys score but what took us here, we’ve go to remind ourselves to do that and it worked.”
Brad Richards replied for the Stars who had lost only seven of 33 games since Nov. 16.
“We’re all going to bounce back,” Richards said. “If not, we’re going to have to find a different job.
“It was one game with lots left. We’ll take it in the chin tonight but we’ll be back.”
Jamie Langenbrunner said the Stars didn’t help a goalie having an off night.
“We did a terrible job of that and hung him out to dry,” Langenbrunner said. “They take the brunt of it in scores like this but we’re not sitting here thinking it’s one guy’s problem.
“We gave them power play after power play and they made us pay.”
Notes:Dallas forward Jamie Benn left the game in the second period and did not return … Crawford did not disclose the nature of his injury but said he would be evaluated Tuesday … the teams have a Dallas rematch Feb. 1, their first game after the all-star break … Canuck defenceman Kevin Bieksa was back after missing most of Saturday’s 4-3 shootout loss to Calgary because of a swollen eye suffered in a fight with Tom Kostopoulos … winger Loui Eriksson dressed for Dallas after flu sidelined him for Friday’s 7-4 loss to Calgary … he had played in 263 consecutive games … Thomas Gradin, who had 197 goals and 550 points in eight seasons as a Canuck, was added to the club’s ring of honour at Rogers Arena.