Things were looking grim for the Dallas Stars at one point Friday night in Vancouver. Kari Lehtonen was out of the game with an injury. They were down 3-1 to the Canucks and Rogers Arena was rocking after Henrik Sedin set the Vancouver franchise mark for points. But the Stars showed some fight, turned things around and rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Canucks.
“I thought it was a really good hockey game,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “People who paid tonight and who watched on TV saw one heck of a hockey game. It was loud and crazy in here, and it was a big step forward for our group.”
Antoine Roussel scored the tying goal with 7:38 left, driving the net, grabbing a loose puck and knocking it past Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider.
Brenden Dillon scored the game-winner with 3:01 left, pinching in from the point, taking a slick cross-ice pass from Jamie Benn and roofing a shot to put the Stars up 4-3.
“It was a great play by (Benn). I saw an opening in the backdoor and it was a perfect pass right on my tape, and I was fortunate to pick the top shelf,” Dillon said. “It was a big win for us, especially with the roll they were on and playing in this building.”
The Stars had their ups and downs in the game. They lost Lehtonen with 6:27 left in the first period. He was injured while stopping a shot by J9rdan Schroeder. The Stars said it was a lower-body injury, but Gulutzan didn’t think it was as serious as the one that kept Lehtonen out 12 games last season.
“He’s going to be re-evaluated when we get back to Dallas (Saturday). It’s a lower body injury,” said Gulutzan. “To me, it doesn’t seem as severe (as last season’s injury).”
Richard Bachman took over in net and a short time later the Stars had a 1-0 lead when Reilly Smith beat Schneider for his first NHL goal. Smith’s goal came just eleven seconds after a Vancouver goal had been waved off for contact with the goaltender.
But the Canucks rattled off three goals in the first half of the second period to take a 3-1 lead. When Henrik Sedin picked up an assist on the third goal he became the Canucks all-time franchise leader in points, and Rogers Arena became loud. Very loud. Everything was going the Canucks way.
“That second period is probably the loudest I’ve heard an arena,” said Bachman, who stopped 18 of 21 shots in the game. “It’s kind of why you play. We were on the opposite end, but it’s great to see the passion of the fans, being that loud. It reminds you of why you do it. In a way it kind of sparked our guys. We had those three fights in a row that kind of gave us a spark.”
Those three fights came late in the second and involved the three members of the Stars’ fourth line of Eric Nystrom, Vernon Fiddler and Ryan Garbutt and it happened in a span of three seconds. Garbutt dropped the gloves with Aaron Volpatti. On the ensuing faceoff it was Fiddler vs. Maxime Lapierre. And on the next faceoff it was Nystrom taking on Dale Weise.
“We had guys try to step up and change the way the game was going at that time,” said Gulutzan. “It was loud in there and the record was set. We needed to do something and our character guys stepped to the plate. It changed momentum.”
Added Dillon: “We’ve got a new nickname for those guys – the Hanson brothers. It was big. At that point of the game they seemed to have some of the momentum, and they really got a spark going for us.”
Two-and-a-half minutes after the fights, Schneider couldn’t control the rebound of a Trevor Daley shot and Cody Eakin knocked it into the net to make it a 3-2 game with 2:10 remaining in the second. That set the stage for the Stars rally in the third period.
“I don’t really know what happened,” Canucks forward Henrik Sedin said. “We played a good game up to the halfway point and then they took over. Giving up four goals five-on-five — that never happens with this team. Even though they had a few fortunate bounces, they took over the game.”
The loss snapped a six-game winning streak for the Canucks, who fell to 8-3-2 on the season. The Stars, who have won five of their last six games, improved to 8-6-1 and are now 5-5-0 on the road.
*The Stars are 6-2-0 over their last eight games overall and 4-1-0 in their last five road games.
*The Canucks had given up just 10 five-on-five goals in their first 12 games. The Stars scored four five-on-five goals against the Canucks on Friday.
*Friday’s win was Richard Bachman’s first since March 6 of last season, when he backstopped the Stars to a 5-2 win in Vancouver.
*The Stars were 3-3 on the penalty kill in the game and 0-4 on the power play.
*Tomas Vincour and Tom Wandell were healthy scratches for the Stars on Friday.
*Ray Whitney (foot) remains on injured reserve.