Vancouver defenseman Christian Ehrhoff made the most of a bad situation by taking advantage of some extra playing time.
Ehrhoff was forced to play every second shift after fellow defenders Sami Salo left the game with a lower-body injury after the second period and Brad Lukowich missed almost 5 minutes early in the third with an equipment problem. He responded by scoring the go-ahead goal 5 minutes into the period in the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night.
"I pretty much double shifted the whole period," said Ehrhoff, who played nine minutes in the third. "It's not nice when guys go down but it's a challenge for the guys still left in the game to step up their game."
Ehrhoff stepped up literally, jumping into the offensive zone to finish off a nice three-way passing play by the Canucks' top line of Alex Burrows with identical twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin. After three quick passes, they hit a streaking Ehrhoff at the blue line and he cut through the defense untouched before lifting a shot over Alex Auld's blocker from in tight.
"They made a couple great plays there and I ended up all alone," Ehrhoff said.
Mason Raymond opened the scoring, and Kyle Wellwood made it 4-2 out on a partial breakaway with 3:29 left as the Canucks won their third game in a row and moved into a tie with Colorado atop the Northwest Division. Wellwood's goal became the winner after Dallas defenseman Trevor Daley scored with 2.8 seconds left, but the game really changed when Burrows took advantage of Auld's giveaway to tie it with a minute left in the second period.
"I gave him the puck and he had an empty net and it seemed to be a big turning point," said Auld, a former Canucks goalie. "It's tough to give up a goal like that and lose by one."
Auld was making his third-straight start despite the fact struggling No. 1 Marty Turco has a 18-7-2 record, 1.92 goals-against average and .927 save percentage against Vancouver. He finished with 19 saves, but coughed up the puck trying to make a pass in front of his own goal.
Burrows, who had a goal waved off less than a minute earlier after kicking the puck in, put it into the empty net to extend his points streak to 10 games. It was the fifth straight game with a goal for Burrows, who has 13 of his team-leading 23 during a 10-game run that also includes two assists.
"He kind of panicked for a second," Burrows said. "Obviously, you don't really think goalies are going to turn the puck over there but I was lucky enough to get a stick on it."
Toby Peterson and Loui Eriksson also scored for the Stars, trying to win three straight for the first time all season and end a six-week road drought.
Despite missing injured top-six forwards Brenden Morrow, Mike Ribeiro and Jere Lehtinen, the Stars led 2-1 after Peterson's unscreened 35-foot slap shot got past Roberto Luongo midway through the second period. The goal came second after Alex Edler hit the post through a screen at the other end. But Dallas couldn't take advantage of a team that played the night before in Edmonton, or a rare off night for Luongo, who made 20 saves in his 21st consecutive start.
The Stars have dropped 10 straight (0-8-2) on the road since Dec. 11.
"That's been symptomatic of a lot of the games we've not performed well in," Dallas coach Marc Crawford said. "You can look at probably 40, 45 minutes of the game where we were pleased, but when the game got on the line their level elevated and they played about 15 minutes and won."
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, who started the game without top-four defensemen Kevin Bieksa (severed ankle tendons) and Willie Mitchell (upper body injury), didn't have an update on Salo's status. But he credited others for stepping up in the third period.
"I thought our best period was the third," Vigneault said.
NOTES: Auld, part of a six-player trade to Florida that included Luongo in the summer of 2006, was playing his first game against the Canucks. He had returned six times with other teams, but always as the backup. ... Ribeiro is out another two to four weeks with a throat contusion, but Morrow and Lehtinen are only listed as day-to-day with upper-body injuries. Mitchell missed a second game after being knocked head first into the boards by Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin late in Saturday's 6-2 win over the Penguins. ... The Stars play in Edmonton on Friday night.
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