VANCOUVER - The last time the Stars lost two straight was when Vancouver defeated them on New Year's Eve. The Canucks sent the Stars reeling once again on Monday night.
A pair of first-period power-play goals set the tone for the Canucks, as they hung a 7-1 loss on Dallas at Rogers Arena. It was the Canucks fourth straight win over the Stars, who limp home after dropping the final two games of their three-game trip to western Canada by a combined score of 14-5.
"Our special teams were kind of lackluster," captain Brenden Morrow said. "We have some things to clean up, that's for sure. It's not just another loss…we really took it on the chin. I think we were amped up, and that might have been part of the problem with taking penalties. We wanted to get off to a good start, but we gave them power play opportunities, and with the skill they have, they're going to make you pay."
The Stars were denied in their attempt to become the first Western Conference team to reach 30 wins. Instead, the Canucks snatched their 30th victory of the season over a sloppy Stars team that couldn't generate much offense after taking six of the game's first seven shots.
Vancouver, meanwhile, scored on three of its first five shots to take away Dallas' early spark.
"You can't really explain it. Sometimes you have really bad games," coach Marc Crawford said. "For whatever reason we couldn't find the energy that we needed to play with, and as they started to build confidence the game certainly got away from us. You're going to have nights like that. We know we were stinky tonight, we just have to throw it in the garbage and move forward."
The loss was even more bitter with forwards Jamie Benn and Tom Wandell both missing the second half of the game because of injuries sustained in the second period. Benn was hurt when he collided at center ice with Vancouver defenseman Alex Edler, while Wandell was knocked out of the game after a hit by Canucks' winger Aaron Volpatti.
Brad Richards scored, and Kari Lehtonen finished with 26 saves for Dallas, which has dropped two in a row after posting five straight wins. The two defeats have also come after the team set a franchise record with its eighth straight road win on Thursday at Edmonton in the game that kicked-off the trip.
Lehtonen dropped to 6-1-1 in his last eight starts, and gave up more than three goals for the first time since surrendering four in that 4-1 New Year's Eve loss to the Canucks. He was replaced by Andrew Raycroft with just under seven minutes left in the third period after Dan Hamhuis capped the scoring with Vancouver's third power-play goal of the game.
Raycroft stopped all three shots that he faced after giving up seven goals in the Stars' 7-4 loss at Calgary on Friday.
"We have confidence in (our goalies), and we know they've snuck some out for us before," Morrow said. "This is on us. When you know they don't have their best stuff, it's up to us to put pucks in areas where they can't get good scoring chances. We did a terrible job of that and left them out to dry."
Henrik Sedin had a goal and two assists, Ryan Kesler, Mason Raymond and Mikael Samuelsson added a goal and assist each, and Alex Burrows and Christian Ehrhoff also scored for the Canucks, who had lost in regulation or a shootout in three straight.
Roberto Luongo made 24 saves to improve to 11-0-5 in his last 16 games. The big netminder has now won seven straight over the Stars.
Raymond made it 6-1 with 8:55 left in the third when he was able to deflect Edler's shot from the left point.
With Vancouver up by a pair of goals after 20 minutes, the Canucks pushed their lead to 4-1 3:57 into the second period when Samuelsson scored his ninth. From the left faceoff dot, he snapped a shot off that went over Lehtonen's right shoulder.
The Canucks grabbed a 5-1 lead with 8:32 left in the middle frame on Henrik Sedin's 11th of the season. Sedin swept a pass from Volpatti at Lehtonen from in tight, which Lehtonen was able to kick out. But the rebound ricocheted in off Steve Ott, who was diving in an attempt to block the pass.
The Canucks opened the scoring when Burrows registered his 10th of the season just 78 seconds into the game. After crossing the Dallas blue line and with the puck on edge, Burrows let go a shot from just above the top of the left circle that knuckled past Lehtonen.
It was the first shot of the game for the Canucks.
Richards tied it at 1-1 with his 20th at 7:19 of the first. James Neal collected a Henrik Sedin turnover in the Canucks' left circle, and promptly fed Richards in the low slot. Richards faked a shot before pulling the puck to his backhand and lifting it over Luongo.
The Canucks regained the lead on Kesler's power-play goal 1:46 later. Standing at the lip of the crease, he tipped in Edler's slap shot from the point for his 27th of the year.
Ehrhoff then pushed the lead to 3-1 with a 4-on-3 power-play goal with 9:34 left in the first. From the right point the Vancouver defenseman blasted a slap shot that got past Lehtonen along the ice with Kesler providing a screen.
The Stars return home from their three-game road trip to face the Edmonton Oilers at American Airlines Center (6:30 p.m., FS-SW) in the last game before the All-Star break.
"Seven goals is a little bit too much, but we'll stick together," said Mike Ribeiro, who XX. "We need to bounce back. We get a win next game, we'll forget about this one. Details of the game hurt us today."