Roberto Luongo returned to the Vancouver Canucks two games too early.
Luongo, who shut-out New Jersey on Tuesday after missing the previous four games because of a rib injury, stymied the Dallas Stars just enough to help the Canucks earn a 3-2 win Thursday night at GM Place. The loss snapped the Stars four-game winning streak, and brought back memories of the epic seven-game conference quarterfinal series won by Vancouver last spring.
Luongo and Dallas netminder Marty Turco went head-to-head for the first time since that tight series, and once again didn't disappoint. Eight months after the two combined for three shutouts in that classic playoff series, Luongo finished with 33 saves compared to Turco's 27.
In his last 10 starts at home, Luongo is now 8-0-2, while Turco had his personal seven-game winning streak in Vancouver snapped.
"I thought it was an exciting game," Turco said. "We had some good chances, but just didn't get the bounces we needed and some bounces went against us."
Jussi Jokinen and Antti Miettinen scored for the Stars, who had their four-game road winning streak snapped as well.
Daniel Sedin had a pair of goals and rookie Mason Raymond also scored for the Canucks, who are in the middle of a stretch in which they'll play six of eight games on the road.
Despite the loss, the Stars remain in first place in the Pacific Division with 42 points, one ahead of San Jose, which lost in a shootout to Phoenix Thursday night. Vancouver, meanwhile, won for the third time in the last five games.
"It's a tough task to score a lot of goals on these guys," center Mike Modano said. "They take away a lot of lanes. It's usually tight when we play them and tonight was no different."
After a scoreless first period, the Canucks grabbed a 1-0 lead eight minutes into the second when Raymond picked up his second goal of the season. Raymond picked up the puck along the left boards in the Dallas zone and skated along the outer edge of the ice and around the net. He quickly cut up the ice, and from a sharp angle, was able to lift the puck past Turco for the lead.
It appeared the puck went in off Turco's arm then under his armpit.
Luongo foiled the Stars' best scoring opportunities in the second, including a golden one early on in the middle frame. From the left circle, Brenden Morrow fed Mike Ribeiro in the slot, and Ribeiro let go a wicked one-timer. But Luongo kicked out the shot with his left leg after doing the splits.
Vancouver pushed its lead to 2-0 on Daniel Sedin's first goal of the game just three minutes into the third period. Sedin easily banged the puck home following a wrist shot from Markus Naslund from along the right boards that bounced off some legs in front before it even got to Turco.
Jokinen finally solved Luongo to cut the deficit in half with his 11th of the year just over three minutes later. On a dump-in, Niklas Hagman dug the puck out behind the goal line and sent a pass to Loui Eriksson in the lower portion of the right circle. Eriksson quickly sent a cross-ice dish to Jokinen, who tapped the puck in.
Vancouver restored its two-goal lead on Daniel Sedin's second of the game and 14th of the season. With the Canucks on a two-man advantage, Sedin was the beneficiary of another rebound after Turco stopped Mattias Ohlund's hard blast form the left point at 9:55.
The Canucks thought they took a commanding 4-1 lead when Jason Jaffray put the puck past Turco with nine minutes left, but the goal was waived off because a delayed penalty for interference on Vancouver forward Taylor Pyatt had been called.
Just before that happened, Luongo robbed Modano on a 2-on-1 opportunity while the Stars were still shorthanded.
Miettinen made it 3-2 on the power play at 12:16 of the third, chipping in a rebound after Luongo stopped Morrow's shot along the ice.
"They got some big goals in the third that they needed," Modano said.
"It came down to the third period and they got the better end of it," he said. "It's tough to get pucks past (Luongo), and to let them score three goals tonight made it even tougher for us."
The Stars held the territorial edge -- as well as the scoring chance advantage -- in the first period, but were held at bay by Luongo in the scoreless stanza. Dallas' best chance, though, wasn't even thwarted by the Vancouver netminder. Midway through the stanza, forward Joel Lundqvist was staring at an open net, but he whacked a juicy rebound just wide with Ohlund draped around him.
Dallas outshot the Canucks by an 11-6 margin in the first period,
"We started out well, but got behind and then gave up that 5-on-3 goal on a penalty we should not have taken," coach Dave Tippett said. "It was a tough road to come back from. It usually comes down to a mistake from one of the teams that leads to the win, and there was no difference tonight."
The Stars conclude their four-game road trip with a jaunt to Calgary to take on the Flames on Friday night (9:00, my27). It's the second meeting between the two teams this season, with Calgary defeating Dallas 3-2 in overtime at American Airlines Center in October.
The Flames are one of the hottest teams in the league, having won a season-high six straight thanks to their 3-1 win at Columbus on Tuesday. All six of those victories came on their just-concluded six-game road trip.
--Krys Barch replaced Chris Conner in the lineup. Barch had been scratched the last eight games.
--It was only the third game this season that Dallas has been involved in a scoreless first period.
--The last time Dallas won five consecutive road games was in 2005.
--Turco is now 8-2 with two shutouts lifetime in Vancouver.
--Modano had his four-game point streak snapped.
--The Stars had just three penalties, with one coming in each of the three periods.
--Every Dallas player except for Stephane Robidas and Barch registered at least one shot on goal.
1 - 0 VAN
2 - 0 VAN
2 - 1 VAN
3 - 1 VAN
3 - 2 VAN
Interference on goalkeeper