VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Vancouver Canucks found a way to win the first of the many games they’ll have to play without high-scoring winger Daniel Sedin.
Ryan Kesler’s shootout goal gave the Vancouver Canucks a 4-3 victory over the Dallas Stars on Sunday before a sellout crowd of 18,818 at General Motors Place. Earlier, the Canucks learned that Sedin, a perennial top scorer who rarely gets hurt, is expected to miss four to six weeks with a broken bone in his left foot sustained in Vancouver’s win over Montreal on Wednesday.
“It was important to us to play good as a team and come together,” said Kesler. “We got an extra point tonight, which is important.”
The Canucks (2-3-0) posted their second straight victory after starting the season with three losses. Dallas (1-0-3) lost for the third time in its first four outings under new coach Marc Crawford.
Kesler and Alex Burrows scored power-play goals, while Willie Mitchell scored even-strength for the Canucks in regulation. Sedin’s usual linemate and twin brother Henrik recorded two assists.
“It’s not just going to be one or two guys (who replace Daniel Sedin’s goals),” Kesler said. “It’s going to be the entire team that has to step up, not only offensively but defensively, too.”
Mike Ribeiro, Brad Richards and rookie Jamie Benn, with his first NHL goal, replied for the Stars.
“We’ve got to get the shootout figured out,” said Crawford after his club’s third loss in the showdown session this season. “We’ve given away three points there this year. Our guys have got to be way more serious about that part of the game. Those are points that we’d like to have for sure.
“We haven’t won one in three tries that we’ve had this year. We’ve worked at it, we’ve filmed it, we’ve actually done a lot of work with it. It’s a big part of the game now. It’s the difference between somebody making the playoffs and somebody not making the playoffs and zero-for-three not a stat that we like.”
Dallas outshot Vancouver 36-25, but the Canucks capitalized on the Stars’ penalty troubles, converting on two of four power plays. Dallas scored on one of five man-advantage opportunities.
The score was tied 1-1 after the first period and the Canucks led 2-1 after the second. The hosts found a way to win after squandering a 3-2 advantage late in the third.
“It wasn’t pretty, but we got the two points and that’s the most important (part),” said Burrows.
He and Henrik Sedin combined for three points despite Daniel’s absence from the Canucks’ top line. However, Burrows, Sedin and replacement linemate Steve Bernier all finished with a minus-one mark on the night.
“Generally, those three guys had some moments on the ice,” said Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault,. “Defensively, it could have been a little bit better on a few occasions.”
Richards tied the game 2-2 4:58 into the third period as he retrieved his own rebound and snuck the puck around Luongo while back-tracking behind the net.
Mitchell gave the Canucks a 3-2 lead about two minutes later as he poked in Steve Bernier’s rebound.
Mitchell’s goal was his already second of the season. The defensive defenceman has never scored more than three in a regular season or playoffs.
Benn, a Victoria native playing an NHL game in his home province for the first time, tied the game 3-3 with only 1:33 left in regulation time as he converted a goal-mouth pass from Stephane Robidas.
“It means a lot,” said Benn of his first NHL goal. “I had a lot of friends and family here so it was a good time to get the goal, too . . . It took me four games to get it, but hopefully I’ll start rolling from here.”
Meanwhile, the Canucks hope they can continue to roll offensively without Daniel Sedin.
Notes: Kyle Wellwood also scored in the shootout for Vancouver while Richards missed the net and Luongo stopped Ribeiro on the decisive attempt . . . Guillaume Desbiens made his NHL debut with the Canucks after he was called up Saturday from Manitoba of the AHL to fill Daniel Sedin’s roster spot. Desbiens, a 24-year-old Alma, Que., native, was a 2003 fourth-round draft choice of the Atlanta Thrashers and signed with the Canucks as a free agent in July after playing for Manitoba last season . . . Henrik Sedin played in his 340th consecutive game. He ranks third on the NHL ironmen list behind Jay Bouwmeester of Calgary and Carolina’s Eric Staal . . . Dallas lost antagonistic centre Steve Ott to an oblique muscle injury in the opening 20 minutes.