VANCOUVER – The Minnesota Wild took care of some business earlier Saturday for the Vancouver Canucks as they beat the L.A. Kings in regulation, leaving the door open for the Canucks to increase their Pacific Division second-place lead over the Kings.
All the Canucks had to do was knock off the Dallas Stars, a team that has given them fits the last two seasons. The mission failed. Or at least it was half completed as the Canucks collected a single point for losing 4-3 in overtime. John Klingberg netted the OT winner at 4:13 of the extra period.
Despite leading 2-1 heading into the third period, the Canucks couldn’t cope with the Stars pressure, or their speed. They Canucks surrendered the tying goal at the 7:55 mark after they were called for a questionable icing, lost the draw and couldn’t get a clear. Nineteen seconds later, Patrick Eaves poked a loose puck past Eddie Lack after Jason Spezza threw it at the net.
Then the defensive pairing of Alex Edler and Chris Tanev allowed Tyler Seguin to get behind them on a beautifu bank pass by Trevor Daley. Seguin walked in cold on Eddie Lack and didn’t miss, the goal coming at 14:25.
But Seguin gave back at 18:12 when he slashed Edler’s stick and Radim Vrbata, with his 30th of the season, evening the count 16 seconds later during the 6-on-4 situation.
The loss leaves the Canucks three points up the Kings, both with seven games remaining, but Vancouver now heads out on a daunting four-game road trip that begins Monday in St. Louis and continues on to Nashville (Tuesday), Chicago (Thursday) and Winnipeg (Saturday afternoon).
Chris Higgins and the Canucks’ much-maligned second-unit power play had provided the 2-1 lead when it came through at 10:10 of the second period. Perched in the high slot, Higgins managed to deflect a Dan Hamhuis one-timer from the blueline past Dallas starter Kari Lehtonen.
It was the fifth straight game the Canucks scored on the power play but it was the first one by a unit not involving Daniel and Henrik Sedin. Higgins now has two power-play goals on the season.
The Canucks talked it up big at the morning skate about their need to start the first period strongly but couldn’t back it up. Stars captain Jamie Benn had a glorious chance in the game’s first minute, then scored in the second minute as he buried a Seguin rebound at the 1:54 mark
At that point, the shots were 4-0 Stars and the Canucks had barely touched the puck. However, unlike Thursday’s loss to Colorado, they pushed back and put six straight shots on Lehtonen. After Ronalds Kenins missed two terrific chances to even the score, the Canucks were eventually rewarded when Radim Vrbata and Nick Bonino broke in 2-on-1 with Trevor Daley the lone defender back and Bonino was able to finish as he slipped the puck through Lehtonen, the goal coming at 11:18.
Bo Horvat had a potential goal waved off at 3:03 of the second period when it was still 1-1 as referee Ian Walsh ruled Jannik Hansen had made incidental contact with Lehtonen – Hansen was in the crease along with Daley – keeping the score at 1-1. But it was Horvat who drew a slashing penalty on Stars defenceman Alex Goligoski that led to the Higgins power-play goal.
The Canucks went with the same lineup that lost to Colorado while Dallas coach Lindy Ruff sat Colton Sceviour and Jordie Benn in favour of Ryan Garbutt and Daley, the latter back after missing the previous 11 games with a knee injury.
ICE CHIPS: The Canucks’ Utica Comets farm team won their seventh straight Saturday, beating the Rockford IceHogs 4-2. Hunter Shinkaruk had one of the goals, his 12th of the season, while Joe Cannata made 37 saves for the victory. The Comets are 41-19-7 and lead their division by 14 points… Canuck netminder Ryan Miller (knee) again took shots prior to the morning skate from goalie coach Rollie Melanson and skills coach Glenn Carnegie. He was hurt five weeks ago on Long Island.