Taylor Pyatt scored on a one-timer from the left circle 7:47 into the extra period Sunday night, giving the Canucks a 2-1 victory Sunday night and a 2-1 lead in this first-round Western Conference series. Both of Vancouver’s win this series have come after the third period. The Canucks won the opener in four overtimes.
“When we scored, we could tell they looked scared,” said Jan Bulis, who scored Vancouver’s first goal. “It was like they didn’t want to win it in regulation, they wanted to get it into overtime. They never found their rhythm and it was up to us to take it.”
Dallas may have looked eager for overtime, but the record shows that wasn’t wise.
This was the Stars’ seventh straight overtime playoff loss. They’re in a 1-10 rut since 2001, the year after they last made the Stanley Cup finals – and all but one of those losses have come with Marty Turco in goal.
Turco, who’s lost his last three post-season series, is trying to shed the label of playoff underachiever. Coming off his first career playoff shutout, he was headed toward another until allowing a tying goal in the third period, then Pyatt’s winner.
He was good, making 35 saves. It just wasn’t good enough.
“It’s a matter of not getting frustrated and sticking with your game plan,” Turco said. “The overtime loss speaks for itself, but I believe in these guys. The next time we get in an overtime situation we’ll be playing to win again.”
Another post-season problem for Dallas is winning at home. This was Stars’ fifth straight home playoff loss covering three series. They’ll try ending the skid again in Game 4 on Tuesday night.
“You need to play to win and find a way to win,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said. “We haven’t been able to find a way to make the play that counts.”
Pyatt’s goal was set up by a pass from Bryan Smolinski. The goal was his first ever in the playoffs.
“To be able to get it in overtime as a game-winner is definitely a nice feeling,” he said. “I just let it go and it wound up in the net. That’s all that matters.”
Luongo made 29 saves, with some spectacular ones like a pair from his back early on.
“We relied heavily on him,” Bulis said. “He proved to be the key guy again. In the first and second we were outplayed. He made some great saves to keep us in the game, or else it could have easily been 4-0.”
Vancouver hung in and persevered. Dallas felt like it let control of the game get away. The third period was a turning point in more ways than the score: The Canucks also outshot Dallas 15-4.
“You’ve got to play complete games, that’s the key,” said Stu Barnes, who scored Dallas’ only goal. “We did that in Game 2. We had a great game, start to finish. Tonight we tailed off a little bit as it got later on and they took advantage of it.”
In the first period, things went from tactical to testy for the first time this series. There was a big pileup with lots of pushing and shoving, sticks and gloves dropped and helmets knocked off. Two players from each side wound up in the penalty box following that skirmish.
However, it didn’t last. Both teams stuck to their formulas, making for tight but crisp action.
The Stars went ahead 1-0 toward the end of the second period when Barnes redirected a long shot by Stephane Robidas while on the power play. It was Dallas’ seventh goal of the series, all by different players. It also ended a string of 15 straight scoreless chances with the man advantage.
The Canucks tied it early in the third period. Jannik Hansen whacked a shot off Turco’s left shoulder, the rebound going right to Bulis. He popped it past Turco for Vancouver’s first goal in 105:18, since the end of Game 1. From his knees, Turco turned to see the puck in the net, threw his head back, then dropped face-first to the ice in disgust.
Notes: For the first time this series, the team that scored first lost. … Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen, Dallas’ top two goal-scorers in the regular season, are not among the team’s goal-scorers this post-season. … The game started on time, a notable feat considering the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs played an NBA game in the afternoon. The basketball-to-hockey changeover took about 1½ hours.