DALLAS – A favourable carom off the skate of Brendan Morrison rescued the Vancouver Canucks.
Morrison scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period and added two assists to send Vancouver to a 4-3 victory over the Dallas Stars after the Canucks had wasted an early three-goal lead Saturday night.
With the score tied at three, Markus Naslund’s centring pass pinballed off Morrison’s skate and past goalie Marty Turco at 3:04 of the final period.
“It was a roller coaster, but it was a great game for us,” Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler said. “We got kind of a grinding goal to win it, but it was an all-around great game.”
The Stars rebounded from a poor start to pull into a tie on Brad Richards’ short-handed goal late in the second period. But Morrison was credited with his ninth of the season after a video review showed that he didn’t intentionally kick the puck into the net.
“They get a bounce in the third and win the game,” Dallas centre Stu Barnes said. “Bounces happen, but in this league you have to play from start to finish and have a complete game. We didn’t do that.”
Matt Pettinger, Kesler and Naslund scored goals for the Canucks, and Roberto Luongo made 34 saves.
The Canucks solidified their grip on one of the final Western Conference playoff spots, improving to 82 points with a 2-2 road trip.
In an attempt to energize an offence that had produced only three goals in the previous three games, Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault formed a new line of Pettinger, Naslund and Morrison. The trio came through with three goals and six assists against the Stars.
“We wanted to try something to see if it couldn’t kick-start our offence,” Vigneault said. “Matt gives the line good speed. Mo (Morrison) and Nasly (Naslund) are really finding themselves.”
Mike Modano notched his 526th career goal – tops among U.S.-born players – and Joel Lundqvist also scored for the slumping Stars.
Dallas has lost four of five and was passed by the San Jose Sharks for the Pacific Division lead earlier in the week.
Johan Holmqvist struggled in his first start for the Stars since he was acquired along with Richards in a five-player trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Feb. 26. Holmqvist sat out seven games with the Stars as the backup to No. 1 goalie Turco, then gave up three goals on 12 shots to the Canucks before he was pulled to start the second period.
“Maybe I was a little too excited,” Holmqvist said. “But no excuses. I’m disappointed. It was a big night for me, and I let the team down.”
Holmqvist allowed Vancouver’s second shot to escape through his pads for Pettinger’s fourth of the season at 2:32 of the opening period.
Kesler made it 2-0 at 9:07 of the frame when he stuffed a power-play rebound past Holmqvist for his 20th goal.
A turnover by Dallas defenceman Trevor Daley led to a 2-on-1 break, and Naslund converted a pass from Pettinger for his 23rd goal and first since Feb. 19. That made it 3-0 at 11:13 of the first.
“Tonight was disappointing,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said. “You can’t make the kind of mistakes we did. … We had more veterans making mistakes.”
Lundqvist got Dallas on the scoreboard with 13 seconds left in the period, notching his third on a rebound.
Modano pulled the Stars within 3-2 at 7:35 of the second with a power-play goal on a shot from beyond the left circle. It was his 19th of the season.
Richards drew Dallas even at three at 13:58 of the second on a short-handed breakaway, his 20th goal of the season and second in seven games with the Stars.
The Stars had won seven straight at home against the Canucks and were 11-3-2 overall versus Vancouver in the previous 16 regular-season meetings.
Notes: Vancouver D Mattias Ohlund missed his second straight game with a knee injury, and Canucks D Aaron Miller sat out his fourth in a row because of a shoulder injury. … Dallas C Steve Ott served the second of a three-game suspension for a hit to the head of Colorado’s Jordan Leopold. … Turco stopped Naslund on a penalty shot with 4:44 remaining.