The Dallas Stars sure do like playing the Vancouver Canucks. On Wednesday night, the Stars were carried by goalie Kari Lehtonen to their sixth straight win over the Canucks, a 2-0 shutout at Rogers Arena. In case you weren't counting, the losing streak for the Canucks has reached five games. That 3-0 win over the Penguins back on December 4 seems like a memory of the distant past.
Lehtonen was the star of the night (no pun intended), stopping all 27 shots he faced. 23 of Vancouver's 27 shots came during the 1st and 3rd periods as the Canucks managed only four shots on net during the middle period.
Eddie Lack did all he could, but got no goal support. The Canucks had several chances on the breakaway, but couldn't come away with any goals to show for. All they would've needed was one to at least send the game into OT as Dallas' second goal game with an empty net in the final 30 seconds of the game.
Vancouver wasted no time in getting a good look on net as Daniel Sedin delivered a cross-ice pass to Radim Vrbata. Had Kari Lehtonen not been anticipating the pass, Vrbata surely would've been able to tap in the pass.
The Canucks continued to deliver quality chances on net as Chris Higgins played a blocked shot and had a clear look on net. Lehtonen was able to come up with another big save to keep the game scoreless early on.
Dallas basically begging the Canucks to score here.— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) December 18, 2014
Midway through the first period, the Canucks would go to the power play for the first time of the night when Curtis McKenzie was called for boarding, prompting Brad Richardson to step in and drop the gloves with McKenzie. Vancouver's power play has struggled as of late, going 0-for-14 in their last five games. There were a couple good looks during the advantage, but it took almost a minute for the Canucks to even get set up.
Dallas would go on their first power play of the night when Derek Dorsett was sent off for goaltender interference. The call drew boos from the home fans as it appeared Dorsett was driven into the net by Jason Demers. On the power play, it was actually Vancouver that came up with the best scoring chance. And I do mean "the best," in this scenario. Like..the best you could possibly ask for.
During the power play, Brad Richardson forced a turnover to create a 2-on-0 breakaway. Higgins went from his backhand to his forehand, but wasn't able to deliver the goal as Lehtonen came up with his biggest stop of the night.
Higgins is the new Hansen. #Canucks— Josh Hamilton (@sheas_slap_shot) December 18, 2014
Vancouver would get a pair of power plays late in the period, but neither generated a goal as the Canucks' struggles on the power play continued with their streak reaching 17 straight power plays without a goal.
The 2nd period started off poorly for the Canucks as Colton Sceviour delivered a backhand shot on net that slipped past the glove of Eddie Lack, giving the Stars a 1-0 lead. Moments earlier, Jannik Hansen had a breakaway chance, but we already know how that one ends.
On the goal, Lack tried to stop the shot by putting his glove on the ice, but Sceviour's shot trickled right past like a poorly fielded ground ball.
Eddie Lack Bill Buckner’d that one.— Pass it to Bulis (@passittobulis) December 18, 2014
Late in the period, Jannik Hansen had himself one hell of a shift, skating around and doing everything he could to maintain possession of the puck. Hansen was playing with such a vengeance, it was like he was trying to make up for an earlier mistake or something. Dallas finally stopped Hansen by chopping his stick in half.
I feel like Hansen lost the puck on purpose several times just so he could get it back.— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) December 18, 2014
Vancouver had another breakaway chance against Kari Lehtonen as Alex Burrows played a puck that deflected off Tyler Seguin. Since the puck deflected off Seguin, Burrows was able to rush into the zone despite Chris Higgins already being well past the blue line. The Stars were thoroughly confused by the call and opted not to play defense as a result.
Stars couldn't believe that was onside. Canucks couldn't believe they missed another breakaway. Or maybe they can pic.twitter.com/lbF2vg6xcn— Jason Botchford (@botchford) December 18, 2014
Burrows wasn't able to beat Lehtonen as the Stars held a 1-0 lead going into the final intermission. Burrows' chance was one of few for the Canucks in the 2nd period as Dallas outshot Vancouver 17-4 during the middle 20 minutes.
Dallas would go to the power play for the second time of the night early in the 3rd period as Brad Richardson was sent off for holding. The Stars were able to control the puck for the duration of the power play and had a couple good looks on net, but couldn't add to their lead as the game remained 1-0. One of Dallas' better chances came when Spezza came in on net to Lack's glove side, drawing Lack out of the net. Had Spezza managed to wrap the puck around behind the net or get a pass off, the Stars would have been left with a wide open net.
Lack was able to stop the puck with the back of his skate, keeping it a one-goal game.
Midway through the period, the Canucks would go to the power play as John Klingberg was sent off for tripping Nick Bonino. Vancouver had by far their best power play of the night as Radim Vrbata and co. blasted shot after shot on Lehtonen. The first power play unit was on the attack for 1:44, but Lehtonen continued to stop everything coming his way.
Good PP so far by nucks. But I think Dallas PK knows where Vrbata is...and that he is going to shoot it— Inderpreet Cumo (@InderpreetHNIC) December 18, 2014
Late in the final period, Dallas almost added to their lead as Chris Higgins left a puck alone in the neutral zone. Curtis McKenzie came sprinting in for a clear breakaway, but Lack was able to come up with another big save to keep his team within reach. While it initially looked like a boneheaded play by Higgins, had he touched the puck, Vancouver would've been hit with a penalty for too many men on the ice.
Dallas would cap off the night as Roussell blocked a shot from Kevin Bieksa and chased down the puck, adding the empty-netter with 26 seconds left, helping comple the shutout.
Ghost of Christmas Past. RT @MikeMartignago: 7 goals for in the 5 losses. It's like last season...— Hosea Cheung (@hoseacheung) December 18, 2014
The Canucks turn their attention to a date with the Calgary Flames at Rogers Arena on Saturday night. In their only matchup of the season so far, back on October 8, the Canucks opened the season with a 4-2 win. To leave you with a bright note, the Flames haven't defeated the Canucks since March 3, 2013. Vancouver will be looking for their ninth straight win over Calgary on Saturday night.