VANCOUVER, B.C. – James Neal scored the decisive shootout goal Sunday as the Dallas Stars rebounded from a lacklustre effort to defeat the Vancouver Canucks 3-2.
Neal beat Vancouver netminder Jason LaBarbera with a low wrist shot to the stick side. Loui Eriksson and Mike Modano also scored in the shootout for the Stars. Kyle Wellwood and Ryan Kesler counted for Vancouver in the shootout. LaBarbara had a chance to win it for the Canucks but Modano’s shot trickled in off his glove.
The win came after Stars coach Dave Tippett said his club didn’t push hard enough after surrendering two soft goals in a 4-1 loss Saturday in Edmonton.
This time they continued their chase for a Western Conference playoff berth and improved to 17-16-5 with their sixth win in eight games.
The Canucks lost their second shootout in as many games to drop to 21-15-5 but closed to within three points of Northwest Division-leading Calgary Flames who have two games in hand.
Wellwood and Darcy Hordichuk gave Vancouver a 2-0 first-period lead.
But the Stars, whose arrival from Edmonton was delayed until game day because their charter aircraft encountered cold-weather problems, had a 2-2 tie entering the third period.
Modano scored with 10 seconds left in the opening period, and Mike Ribeiro had a power-play goal in the second period.
The Stars had the best chances in overtime. Brad Richards trickled a shot along the goal-line and LaBarbara, making his third straight start in the Canucks goal, sprawled to rob Trevor Daley and James Neal.
The Canucks’ second line of Steve Bernier, Wellwood and Mason Raymond was criticized for lacklustre play by coach Alain Vigneault after Friday’s shootout loss to Atlanta, but Wellwood quickly took a step out of the doghouse.
He went hard to the net to tip Bernier’s centring pass behind goalkeeper Marty Turco for his career-high 14th goal at 2:31 of the first period. It was Vancouver’s first shot on goal.
An industrious forecheck by the Canucks’ fourth line forged a 2-0 advantage as Hordichuk barged into the crease to direct Jason Jaffray’s pass into an open net.
Dallas found life when Modano got behind Canuck defenceman Mattias Ohlund to rifle Neal’s pass behind LaBarbera.
The Stars equalized after the Canucks killed the front end of a Dallas two-man advantage created by a pair of undisciplined penalties.
Ribeiro was at the side of the net to whip Jere Lehtinen’s cross-crease pass into the goal before Wellwood, serving a bench minor for too many men on the ice, got into the play.
Notes: Thirty minutes elapsed before Dallas drew the game’s first penalty. … Dallas winger Landon Wilson was out of the lineup after leaving Saturday’s 4-1 loss in Edmonton with an undisclosed injury. … Ohlund returned to the Canuck blue-line after leaving Friday’s shootout loss to Atlanta with an upper body injury. … Defenceman Darryl Sydor played his 1,200th NHL game. The former Kamloops, B.C. junior is on his third tour of duty with Dallas after being acquired earlier in the season from Pittsburgh for Phillippe Boucher.