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Canucks still waiting to clinch playoff spot after losing 3-1 to Stars


Special teams proved to be the difference in a key matchup between the Vancouver Canucks and Dallas Stars on Thursday.

The Stars capitalized on their power-play chances and clinched a spot in the NHL playoffs with a 3-1 win.

The Canucks struggled with the man advantage and will have to wait to secure their post-season berth.

“This is the kind of hockey it's probably going to be the rest of the way, the kind of hockey it is around the league right now,” said Canucks goalie Casey DeSmith, who had 31 saves on the night.

“Everyone's just trying to buckle down and play the right way, do the right things. I thought we did that for most of the night. Obviously special teams was the difference.”

Dallas went 2-for-5 on the power play while Vancouver was 0-for-3 with the man advantage.

A “mechanical” power play and careless penalties proved costly for the Canucks, said coach Rick Tocchet.

“I think guys will be disappointed,” he said. “You're looking for somebody to make a play or maybe a little more discipline. Maybe that's the difference in the game. These games are coin flips.”

Roope Hintz scored and contributed a pair of helpers for the Stars (46-19-9), while Jamie Benn added a goal and marked a milestone with an assist. Jason Robertson added some insurance with an empty-net strike and Joe Pavelski notched a pair of assists.

The Canucks (45-20-8) got a goal from J.T. Miller.

Jake Oettinger stopped 27 of 28 shots as Dallas stretched its win streak to six games.

“It felt like a playoff game,” Oettinger said. “They're a great team obviously over there, they've been one of the best teams in the league all year and there's just not a lot of flaws in that team. So just a good measuring stick and obviously we know what's at stake. Just to get a gritty win like that is huge.”

Dallas sits first overall in the Western Conference, three points up on Vancouver and the Colorado Avalanche. The Canucks remain atop the Pacific Division standings, six points ahead of the Edmonton Oilers.

Making the playoffs - and earning home ice - isn't easy in the NHL, said Stars coach Pete DeBoer.

“You have to do a lot of work, starting six, seven months ago, to give yourself the opportunity to be one of those 16 teams that plays for the Stanley Cup. So I'm just proud of our group,” he said. “You go through all kinds of adversity through the year, injuries and different things, but we found a way every week to find a way to wins games.”

A high-sticking call on Teddy Blueger gave the Stars a prime opportunity to break a 1-1 deadlock late in the third period.

Hintz flicked a quick pass to Benn in the slot and the Stars captain snapped a shot in past DeSmith to put Dallas up 2-1 at the 16:52 mark.

Earlier in the game, he registered an assist on Hintz's goal, marking the 900th regular-season point of his NHL career. Benn has goals in six straight games and points in his last eight (seven goals, five assists).

“He's the worst guy in the world taking compliments and accolades and stuff, so he's a hell of a player, an even better person,” Oettinger said. “And even if he doesn't care, we all are really happy for him. He's a special player and obviously the leader of this group.”

The Canucks knotted the score 1-1 midway through the second thanks to a stellar play from Conor Garland.

Miro Heiskanen checked the winger into the boards, but Garland still managed to send a spinning backhanded pass to Miller at the top of the hash marks. Miller sent a one-timer flying past Oettinger 7:39 into the period. It was his 35th goal of the season.

The Canucks forward believes he has more to give, especially when it comes to the power play.

“I don't think we're getting to the inside enough,” Miller said, adding that he doesn't feel like he's creating or driving play with the man advantage.

“I need to be better. And as a leader on the team, I hold myself to a higher standard than that. I feel like I'm one and done a lot.”

Dakota Joshua returned to Vancouver's lineup after missing 18 games with a hand injury. The physical forward has a career-high 13 goals and 13 assists this season.

“It was nice to get out there and battle again, just be with the guys and go through the ups and downs of the game,” Joshua said after the game.

Canucks centre Elias Lindholm missed a second straight game with an undisclosed injury. Forward Arshdeep Bains was back on the ice with the NHL club after being recalled from the American Hockey League's Abbotsford Canucks on Wednesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 28, 2024. Top Stories

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