Courtesy of Daniel Fung
THE PROVINCE REPORTS
The Dallas Stars weren't buying the fact that Roberto Luongo has been run at anymore than one would expect over the course of a normal hockey game, writes Jason Botchford. The Stars say they are focused on their own game and doing what it takes to beat Roberto Luongo, although stars centre Mike Modano admits going hard to the net is part of the game plan and perhaps the Canucks have a reason to be upset.
Cry me a river, say Stars
"It's such a grey area," said Modano. "We want to get tight in on Roberto to make it tough. The refs have some obligations to protect those guys in that area of the ice. The guys who go in that blue area [crease] should be penalized. There's a real fine boundary that you can't cross over."
Stars coach Dave Tippett, however, doesn't think the Canucks have as big as a case as they claim.
"I've seen on video every time that there's been any contact with [Luongo]," said Tippett. "There's not one time, I don't think, that there's been contact with him in the paint. Any contact with him has come when our guys were battling hard for rebounds."
While rehabbing his knee injury, Josh Green didn't like the feeling of not being able to help his mates on the ice. He had that same feeling just over five minutes into Game 4 when he was sent to the penalty box on a delay-of-game penalty for flipping the puck over the glass, writes Jason Botchford.
"I was praying in the penalty box," Green said.
Luckily for him and the Canucks, Vancouver escaped unscathed from a 5-on-3 disadvantage that lasted 1:55 and Josh Green's playoff debut with Vancouver went off without a hitch.
"I think it was good it was a playoff game because I had a lot of adrenalin going," Green said. "I had no problem finding my legs, and that was the thing I was most concerned about."
THE SUN REPORTS
Back to the future
It's 2007, but Trevor Linden is playing like he was back in 1994, writes Elliott Pap. The veteran Canuck forward scored what turned out to be the winning goal in Tuesday's Game 4 victory against the Stars. In fact, his line with Bryan Smolinski and Taylor Pyatt engineered both goals in the game and was also responsible for Sunday's Game 3 overtime winner.
"We had an incredible shift from Trevor Linden and Taylor Pyatt on the winning goal and we are not talking about second effort," Vigneault said. "We are talking about third-effort plays. For them to have that type of presence and get us that goal, it was a huge momentum shift."
But while that line was in on the game-winning goal, it may have been Willie Mitchell who was involved in the most important play of the game, clearing a Mike Ribeiro shot off the goal line to preserve the 2-1 Canuck lead. And while Stars fans would probably disagree, it was clear from the Canucks bench that the puck never crossed the goal line.
"Good thing it was late in the period," noted Mitchell. "If it was clean ice, it probably would have been in. I just managed to get my long stick on it. There was no doubt it wasn't in."
Charmed existence? Not that simple
It's hard to know the exact moment the Canucks became the dominant force that is currently rolling through the heart of Texas but one thing is certain, it's not just luck.
"There is nothing flukey about four months of sustained excellence, and to suggest the bounces have merely gone their way diminishes all the good things they do," writes Iain MacIntyre. "The Canucks deserve what they're getting. But it isn't entirely rational nor easily explained."
Trevor Linden, who scored the game winning goal in Game 4, dismissed the notion that the team simply flipped a switch to get to where they are now.
"You make it sound like we just sprinkle some magic dust around," Linden said. "Look, after Christmas we got things going in the right direction. I'll say this: once the ball gets rolling, it picks up speed. You get momentum. That's kind of how we're playing now. We believe what we are doing is the right thing instead of wondering if we're doing the right thing."
Willie just playing sidekick to Louie
Goaltending was once again the main storyline of Game 4, but everybody was talking about the huge save Willie Mitchell made late in the game to preserve the 2-1 Canucks lead, writes Iain MacIntyre. But don't think for one second Mitchell is about to take all the credit for the save, pointing out he was just helping out the man behind the mask.
"I think Louie's done enough for us this year," Mitchell explained. "It's time one of us returned the favour. If you can prevent 30 goals, it's no different than scoring 30 goals. That's how I play. I take a lot of pride in it. I enjoy the matchups, enjoy the competition."
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS REPORTS
Modano key if Stars hope to come back
Only two Dallas Stars failed to record a shot in Game 4, Steve Ott and Mike Modano. And given Modano's importance to the success of the Stars, that trend simply can't continue if the Stars are to have a hope of coming back and winning the series, writes Tom Cowlishaw.
In Modano's last 21 pointless playoff games, the Stars have won only two. Modano, who for so many years has been a focal point of the Stars offence, finds himself with just one assist in a series in which his team, now down 3-1, desperately needs him to breakout.
"[If the Stars want to avoid the same fate as last year], Modano will have to do something about it Thursday night," writes Cowlishaw. "History tells us no one else is going to do it for him."
The Stars are inching close to an NHL mark, writes Mike Heika, and it's one they don't want to be associated with. With their Game 4 loss at the American Airlines Center, the Stars fell for their sixth consecutive home playoff game and are one shy of tying an NHL mark. There are several other statistics that aren't in Dallas' favour. They have lost and were eliminated in Game 5 in their last two playoffs in a row, and NHL teams which hold 3-1 series lead plus home ice are 127-10 (a .927 winning percentage). The Stars know it will take everything that they've got if they hope to defy history.
"We put ourselves in this situation," [Stars defenceman Mattias] Norstrom said. "And now we'll really see what we're made of."
THE FORT-WORTH STAR TELEGRAM REPORTS
Regular season scorers gone MIA
The Stars might need to send out an APB for the following individuals: Jere Lehtinen, Mike Modano, Philippe Boucher, Mike Ribeiro, and Niklas Hagman. The top-five goal scorers for the Stars in the regular season, their names have been notoriously absent from the goal scoring column thus far in the playoff series against the Canucks.
"With Dallas' only goal [in Game 4] coming from Sydor, the Stars have yet to get any from their top-five goal scorers in the regular season," writes Jaime Aron. "Mike Modano, the leading U.S.-born goal-scorer in NHL history, failed to record a shot despite leading all forwards in ice time and played the second-most of all Dallas skaters. His extended action partly was due to Jussi Jokinen leaving with an undisclosed injury in the first period."