DALLAS – The Vancouver Canucks and Dallas Stars have played three times in the last 33 days and the result has been the same each time.
Vancouver’s special teams are too good for the Stars.
Mikael Samuelsson and Christian Ehrhoff scored power-play goals, leading Vancouver to a 4-1 victory over Dallas on Tuesday night.
Ryan Kesler had a short-handed goal while Alex Burrows also scored. Daniel Sedin added two assists.
In the first game back from the all-star break for both clubs, Vancouver earned its third straight victory and moved into sole possession of first place overall in the NHL.
“We’re on a game-to-game basis,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “We’re happy with the win tonight against a real good opponent.”
Vancouver has dominated Dallas of late, winning the three recent matchups by a combined score of 15-3. During those three victories, the Canucks’ power play has done most of the damage, converting 8-of-15 attempts.
Dallas has capitalized on 1-of-13 power plays in the season series, including an 0-for-5 effort Tuesday night.
“I think special teams are huge in the NHL these days and for some reason, we’ve been really good against Dallas this year,” said Burrows, who scored for the third straight game. “All three games, our special teams have played awesome, with big goals at key moments and the penalty killers have been doing the job.
“For some reason it seems to work against them.”
After a scoreless first, the Canucks struck twice on the power play in the first 3:05 of the second to take control.
Just 26 seconds in, Samuelsson wired a scorching wrist shot from the right face-off circle over goalie Kari Lehtonen’s glove for his 10th goal of the season.
Vancouver needed just eight seconds on the power play for its second goal, a slapshot by Ehrhoff from the right point that beat Lehtonen over the glove.
“They got a lot of weapons and our biggest thing going into the game was not to give them a lot of power-play chances and we took some silly (penalties), myself included,” said Dallas’s Adam Burish, who was in the penalty box for Ehrhoff’s goal. “And that makes it hard to play against them, because when they’re on the power play, if you give them one chance or two chances, they’re going to find a way to make a difference in the game.”
Seconds after Lehtonen made a save on Dan Hamhuis, Dallas’s Loui Eriksson connected at 6:22 of the second, firing a wrist shot past goalie Cory Schneider on a 2-on-1 rush.
Eriksson, who had two goals and two assists in Sunday’s all-star game, recorded his 18th goal of the season.
With the Stars on a power play late in the period, Kesler made it 3-1 Vancouver with his 28th goal of the season. After Jannik Hansen stole the puck from Eriksson, he and Kesler took off on a 2-on-1 break into the Dallas zone, where Hansen had a cross-ice pass that Kesler redirected past Lehtonen.
“We were in the game there, but the short-handed goal, it’s tough to swallow,” said Dallas centre Brad Richards, who had an assist. “It hit Loui’s stick and just exploded.
“It wasn’t like we were out of position, we had our position, it’s just one of those things. For some reason, in three games, they’ve gotten those bounces, we haven’t.”
As Dallas pressed for another goal late in the third, the Canucks ended any hopes of a comeback when Burrows scored his 12th of the year with 5:03 remaining.
The Stars dropped to 1-3-0 in their last four outings and lost a five-game points streak (4-0-1) on home ice.
“We had our opportunities tonight and we got to take responsibility for not jumping on the opportunities that we had,” coach Marc Crawford said. “Special teams are so important and that was the difference tonight.”
NOTES: Canucks D Alex Edler missed his second game since suffering a back injury that requires surgery and will keep him out until at least the playoffs. … Wearing a full face shield to protect a broken bone around his eye, Vancouver C Cody Hodgson made his NHL debut. Hodgson, the Canucks’ first-round choice (10th overall) in 2008, registered two shots on goal and three hits in 9:36 of ice time. … Lehtonen earned an assist on Eriksson’s goal, giving him four on the season, tying the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist for the most among goalies in the league. … Vancouver LW Aaron Volpatti left with a rib cartilage injury and is listed as day to day. … Dallas placed C Tom Wandell on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.