|DAL||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||2|
|VAN||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||4|
In January, the Vancouver Canucks went weeks without winning and were in danger of falling out of the playoff race. They've put that slide far behind and are now moving closer to securing home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The surging Canucks look to set a franchise record with their 10th straight home win Tuesday night when they face the Dallas Stars, who are opening a difficult three-game road trip.
Vancouver (36-23-9) ended January on an eight-game losing streak (0-5-3) to fall into 11th in the Western Conference but very little has gone wrong for the Canucks since.
They are a league-best 14-3-1 since the start of February and matched a franchise record for consecutive home victories with Sunday's 4-2 win over Colorado.
Kyle Wellwood, Alex Burrows and Taylor Pyatt scored first-period goals, while Ryan Kesler had three assists for Vancouver, which last won nine straight home games Nov. 6-Dec. 9, 1992.
The Canucks' turnaround has been astonishing, considering their winning streak at GM Place came on the heels of a nine-game skid there.
"It's crazy, we couldn't buy a win a month and a half ago, we always found a way to lose every game," said Burrows, who has scored in each of his last four games. "But we turned it around, and right now we have a lot of confidence in our own building.
"That's a good thing heading into the playoffs."
The playoffs seemed like a long shot at the end of January, but now the Canucks are five points back of Northwest Division-leading Calgary and only two behind slumping Chicago in the race for fourth and home-ice advantage.
"We wanted to exclude ourselves from the bottom three or four teams that are fighting for a playoff spot," said Kesler, who has seven goals and 11 assists in his last 10 home games. "Now we're trying to catch Calgary and Chicago. We have them worried about us now which is a good thing."
Roberto Luongo has been in net for each game of the home streak, posting a 1.89 goals-against average in those contests. He has started all but one game for the Canucks since the start of February - a 2-1 loss at Dallas (33-28-8) on Feb. 13.
Luongo also missed Vancouver's first game of the season against the Stars - a 3-2 shootout home loss on Jan. 4 - because of a strained groin that sidelined him 24 games. He is 4-1-2 with a 1.81 GAA against the Stars since the start of the 2006-07 season.
Dallas is one of seven teams in the mix for the final two playoff spots in the West.
The Stars defeated Minnesota 3-2 in overtime Saturday for their second straight victory after going 2-7-1 in their previous 10. They have not won three straight since a season-high five-game streak Jan. 21-Feb. 3.
Winning on this road trip won't be easy for Dallas, which travels to Calgary on Wednesday and Pacific-leading San Jose on Saturday.
"Right now this is the playoffs," said Steve Ott, who had his first career two-goal game against the Wild. "Every single night is a fight for that playoff spot."
Ott's linemates Mike Ribeiro and Loui Eriksson assisted on both of his goals, giving that trio 24 points in the last six games.
Marty Turco made 28 saves Saturday and has stopped 57 of 61 shots in winning his last two games after stopping five of eight shots before being pulled in last Tuesday's 5-2 loss to St. Louis.
Turco has a 1.44 GAA in winning both starts against Vancouver this season.
|Mar 24 '09||VAN 5 at DAL 2||H. Sedin|
|Mar 17 '09||DAL 2 at VAN 4||M. Sundin|
|Feb 13 '09||VAN 1 at DAL 2||J. Lundqvist|
|Jan 04 '09||DAL 3 at VAN 2 - SO||J. Neal|