PIC OF THE GAME
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - For two periods, it was just like old times: The Vancouver Canucks and Dallas Stars locked in a tight, defensive struggle.
Then came the third. All of the sudden it was the Ron Duguay all-stars versus the 1972 Soviet Selects.
The teams combined for 23 shots and four goals – which was close to the sum total of last spring’s first round playoff match-up that saw the Canucks oust the Stars in seven games.
Daniel Sedin led the way matching the Stars' two goals in the final period with two of his own, leading Vancouver to a 3-2 win over Dallas on Thursday night.
"We knew it was going to be a tight game. It always is against these guys. Low scoring," Sedin said. "But we stuck with it and got some chances in the third."
Rookie Mason Raymond scored his second since being recalled from Manitoba December 12th, and Roberto Luongo
made 33 saves to win his second straight game since returning after missing four due to bruised ribs.
Jussi Jokinen and Antti Miettinen scored in the third period, and Marty Turco made 27 saves for the Stars, who had their four-game winning streak snapped.
Despite all the pre-game hype caused by Turco’s finger-wagging over the extra knee protectors Luongo wears on his pads, Tuesday’s match-up was anything but poetry between the pipes.
Neither goaltender showed playoff form.
In fact, the biggest sticking point for the Canucks on a night that saw them earn their 19th win of the season and their ninth on home ice, was the loss of a shutout, which would have given Luongo six and tied him for the league lead.
The Canucks’ keeper wandered out of his crease to stop a dump-in six minutes into the third and played it to Niklas Hagman, who set up Jokinen’s goal.
"It was tight and then there were a couple weird bounces," Luongo said. "A miscommunication on our part on the first goal they scored, and the puck was bouncing a couple of times right on the guy's stick and empty net. They scored one like that, we scored one like that."
“It was just a miscue there,” said Alain Vigneault. “I think he was just a little bit late on getting out and stopping that puck and making the play. But those are the things that are going to happen... It’s like our defense sometimes: all of our passes aren’t always on the tape, and those are the things that are going to happen.”
Scored two goals, including the game-winner to pass Naslund for the team lead.
Stopped 33 of 35 shots and picked up his 3rd assist of the year on Raymond’s goal.
Just the one assist, but easily the most effective Dallas skater. Over 20 minutes with 4 hits.
Much like last season’s playoff grudge match that saw the teams grind one another into the ice in an epic check-fest, the emphasis Tuesday was on tight-checking hockey - at least until the clubs started trading chances in the third period.
"There was a lot more goals being scored, no doubt," said Turco, who posted three shutouts in that playoffs series but lost. "When you get down you've got to press a little bit and we felt like we had scoring chances all game long and missed some golden opportunities. Louie made some good saves, too."
Raymond opened the scoring eight minutes into the second period, taking the puck from the blue line down and around the net before coming out on the other side. He snapped a sharp-angle shot that appeared to go in off Turco's blocker.
“It’s one of those things you practice and practice,” said Raymond, who now has two NHL tallies to his name, “you know, just coming around the net and wanting to get it up because the goalie’s going down.”
"Those goals happen," Turco said. "Just keep pushing and playing and don't let it bother you. Just try to get your arm out of the way next time."
The Canucks doubled the lead three minutes into the third after Markus Naslund's shot bounced off legs in front and straight to Sedin with Turco stranded.
"It was kind of an open net," said Sedin, who added his second goal on a 5-on-3, power-play rebound. "The first two periods we were in the corner cycling, and in the third we tried to get more shots and get guys in front and it paid off."
Jokinen closed the gap three minutes after Sedin's first goal, scoring into another empty net after Hagman stripped Luongo.
Sedin restored the two-goal cushion 3 1/2 minutes later, and the Canucks appeared to go up 4-1 when Jason Jaffrey beat Turco less than a minute later. But the goal was waved off because referee Mike Hasenfrazt rules that Taylor Pyatt had interfered with defenseman Sergei Zubov on the play as he drove the net. Miettinen scored on the resulting penalty to Pyatt, banging in a rebound of Brendan Morrow's sharp-angle shot.
“Obviously as players we can’t say a lot about stuff like that,” said Willie Mitchell, who played 16 games with the Stars in 2005-06 before signing with the Canucks. “It’s a two goal swing, you think that’s huge? They score on a power play and it’s a goal that should’ve counted and it makes us play a lot tighter and gives them hope.”
"It was exciting for both teams, chances at both ends, the goalies played well and it came down to a bit of a special teams game and they got the better of it," Morrow said. "Three goals is a lot to get by that guy."
“There were a few more goals scored than usual, but I thought throughout the game, both teams stuck to what they do best,” said Vigneault. “From the ice level, you can see both teams working really hard to find some open ice - there wasn’t a lot of it”
“In my mind it was hard fought, and usually the team that can score the first goal is usually the one that can come on top, and that’s what happened tonight.”
Notes: Luongo was credited with an assist on the first goal. ... The Stars, who beat Edmonton in a shootout Tuesday, play again Friday in Calgary. Since 2001, they are 15-4-3 when they make the three-game road trip through Western Canada. ... Luongo posted shutouts in four of his previous five home games, allowing one goal in that span.