Stars try to extend Canucks' struggles

The Dallas Stars avoided a third straight setback last time out to grab sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division.

Though the Vancouver Canucks aren't in danger of losing their spot atop the Northwest standings, they'll still try to avoid their first three-game slide of the season in tonight's battle with the Stars.

Despite losing six of their past eight, the Canucks still lead their division by 10 points over the Avalanche. With 95 points, seconded-seeded Vancouver is five points behind top-seeded St. Louis with nine games to play.

The Canucks opened up a four-game swing with a shutout loss in Minnesota on Monday, then scored 27 seconds into the first period of last night's battle in Chicago. However, the Blackhawks tied the game in the second and then took a 2-1 victory on Andrew Shaw's overtime winner.

Jannik Hansen scored and Roberto Luongo ended with 35 saves in the setback.

"We were able to kill the five penalties that we took, so that says a lot about our group," Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault said. "We really played well in the third period."

Vancouver also lost forward Daniel Sedin in the second period after he took a high hit from Chicago defender Duncan Keith. Vigneault said that Sedin would be re-evaluated today and felt that hit on Sedin was the kind the NHL is looking to get rid of.

"Deliberate, principle point of contact. Everything you're trying to take out of the game. I expected a major and I got a minor. We'll let the league deal with it," Vigneault said.

While the Canucks have struggled, the Stars have won seven of their past nine games. Tuesday's 4-3 shootout win over Phoenix put Dallas a point ahead of both the Coyotes and Kings for the top spot in the Pacific Division and third seed in the West.

Mike Ribeiro assisted on all three of Dallas' regulation goals and then had the winner in the shootout. Michael Ryder scored twice and had an assist, while Loui Eriksson also tallied and logged two helpers. Ryder set a new career high with his 32nd goal of the season.

"(Ryder) and (Eriksson) are elite players," said Ribeiro. "They can score, they can pass, they play well defensively. They do everything right on the ice."

Kari Lehtonen ended with 27 saves for the Stars, who rebounded after blowing a 3-1 lead in the third.

Dallas will be without Mark Fistric tonight due to an upper-body injury suffered during a melee after Phoenix's Shane Doan delivered an elbow to the head of Dallas' Jamie Benn. Doan was issued a three-game suspension for the hit on Benn.

The Stars had lost nine of 10 to the Canucks before taking the first two meetings between the clubs this season. That includes a 3-2 overtime win in Dallas on Feb. 26 that snapped a three-game losing at home to Vancouver.