December 16, 2014

While the Dallas Stars try to avoid their first losing streak this season, the Vancouver Canucks hope another lengthy one doesn't await them.

The way the series has played out recently suggests the woes of the latter might continue.

The Stars will go for their third victory in as many tries against the Canucks this season and 10th straight overall when they visit Rogers Arena on Thursday night.

Dallas' nine-game winning streak in this series dates back to April 18, 2013, and includes three games in Vancouver. The latest two victories - 4-3 in overtime on Oct. 29 and 3-2 in a shootout on Friday - have helped the Stars (19-5-1) to easily their best start in franchise history. Dallas, and the Minnesota North Stars prior to the 1993-94 season, never posted more than 16 wins through 25 games.

The Stars are tied with Montreal for the league lead in wins, and they haven't lost consecutive games yet. But after opening a four-game road trip with Saturday's 4-3 overtime victory at Minnesota, Dallas suffered a hiccup with a 4-3 shootout loss at Calgary on Tuesday.

The Stars led 3-0 before Antti Niemi allowed three third-period goals on 16 shots and surrendered three in the shootout. The loss, Dallas' first this season when leading after two periods, ended the Stars' six-game road winning streak while dropping them to 10-2-1 away from home.

''We just stopped playing hockey,'' captain Jamie Benn said. "It's a pretty embarrassing loss.''

Dallas also might have lost defenseman Jason Demers when he left with an upper-body injury. Demers, who has four goals and seven assists in 22 games, did not practice on Wednesday and is listed as questionable to face the Canucks.

The Stars might have Kari Lehtonen back in net, though, after he was activated from injured reserve this week. Lehtonen missed the last three games due to a lower-body injury suffered in the second period of a 7-4 loss to Ottawa on Nov. 24. Niemi has started all three games since.

Lehtonen has won nine of 10 starts this season and his last seven against the Canucks with a 1.42 goals-against average. He left Wednesday's practice earlier than Niemi, typically a sign he will start the next game.

The Canucks (9-9-8) have lost three straight and will try to avoid their third four-game losing streak this season.

Vancouver's overtime woes stretch far past its series with Dallas. The Caunucks are 1-8 in games decided after regulation this season, the one victory coming in a shootout on Oct. 12.

Since, they have lost seven straight overtime contests - the latest Tuesday's 2-1 defeat at Los Angeles during which Vancouver allowed the Kings to tie the game early in the third period before Anze Kopitar ended it three minutes into extra time.

"It's really tough," goaltender Jacob Markstrom told the team's official website. "It's getting sick and tired right now losing in overtime. It's no fun."

The Canucks open a four-game homestand at Rogers Arena, where they started the season 0-2-3 but are 3-2-0 since.

Ryan Miller will likely be back in net Thursday after getting pulled from Monday's 4-0 loss at Anaheim before sitting out Tuesday's loss.

He is 0-4-3 with a 3.85 GAA in his last seven starts against the Stars while playing with Buffalo, St. Louis and Vancouver.

The Canucks will be without center Brandon Sutter for 4-6 weeks after he underwent successful surgery to repair a sports hernia on Wednesday.

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