Canucks continue home dominance, double up Stars

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- The Vancouver Canucks'

franchise-record, home-winning streak not only got them back

into the Western Conference playoff race, it could also provide

a postseason advantage.

Ryan Kesler and Mats Sundin each had a goal and an assist, and

the Canucks beat the Dallas Stars, 4-2, on Tuesday night for

their 10th straight home win.

"No other team has done it wearing a Canucks sweater, so it's

good to have your name in the record book," said Kesler, who has

seven points during a four-game streak. "Ten in a row on home

ice, that's not easy to do nowadays."

It's even more remarkable considering it was preceded by a

nine-game, home-losing streak. Vancouver was 0-6-3 at GM Place

through Jan. 31 and looking like a playoff long shot. But the

Canucks haven't lost at home since.

They broke the mark set in 1992, and have gone 15-3-1 overall to

move into a tie with slumping Chicago for fourth place in the

tight Western Conference. Now the Canucks have a shot at

home-ice advantage in the first playoff round.

"We want to establish something good at home," said Roberto

Luongo, who finished with 24 saves. "It's a good momentum

builder."

Steve Ott pulled the Stars within a goal eight minutes into the

third, but Steve Bernier restored the two-goal cushion with 5

minutes left, finishing off a tic-tac-toe passing play on a

4-on-2 rush after a Dallas defender broke his stick.

Stephane Robidas also scored, and Marty Turco stopped 21 shots

as the injury-riddled Stars had a two-game winning streak

snapped. Dallas dropped into a ninth-place tie with Minnesota,

one point behind Edmonton and Nashville in the West.

"It s tough," said Ott, who added an assist to his career-best

16th goal. "We can't afford right now to come away empty-handed

in the points department."

Daniel Sedin scored the other goal for the Canucks, who closed

within three points of Calgary for the Northwest Division lead

and the No. 3 playoff seed.

"You do glance at the standings once in a while and realize

we're getting close to teams ahead of us, so we've just got to

keep plugging away," Luongo said.

Vancouver converted both power-play opportunities, and the Stars

went 1-for-6 with the man advantage, including a failed 5-on-3

edge early in the third.

"We got power plays, and instead of using that to generate

momentum it's taking momentum away from us," coach Dave Tippett

said of the Stars' power play that ranks second to last in the

NHL on the road (13.5 percent).

The Stars did get one, as Sedin and Robidas traded power-play

goals in the first period. Sedin ended a 10-game goal drought

when his no-look backhand pass through the crease bounced in off

Robidas as he tried to block the shot.

The Dallas defenseman got a break 10 minutes later with a

fluttering one-timer from the point that somehow went through a

crowd in front, by Luongo, off the post, and in.

The Stars got top-six forward Jere Lehtinen back after he missed

six games due to an upper-body injury, but are still missing

forwards Brad Richards (broken wrist), Fabian Brunnstrom (upper

body), Toby Peterson (foot) and Mark Parrish (head).

"Our power play has definitely struggled," Ott said. "You can

say what you want when you've got key guys out the lineup like

Richards, but still we have to find a way and get this road

power play clicking, especially if we want to stick around for

playoff time and do something with it in the playoffs, as well."

Kesler put the Canucks ahead 7 minutes into the second period

and helped set up Sundin's insurance goal on the power play less

than 4 minutes later.

"He was our most effective player," Canucks coach Alain

Vigneault said of Kesler.

Sundin, who also earned the second assist on Kesler's goal,

one-timed a shot under Turco for his eighth point in eight

games.

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