The NHL leading Vancouver Canucks came into Sunday’s game against the Dallas Stars with a 26-0-0 record when leading after two periods. However, they couldn’t stop Mike Ribeiro and the Stars from tying the game in the final minute and Loui Eriksson ended it with just over a minute remaining in overtime to give the Stars a 3-2 victory at American Airlines Center in Dallas.
“It took us 59 some minutes to get the second goal, but it’s happened to us and it happens to everybody,” Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan said. “I thought we stuck with it for 60 minutes and we showed some resolve and we got a result at the end. It’s a big win for our hockey club going down the stretch.”
Steve Ott cycled behind the net and found Trevor Daley on the left side, who delayed and found a wide open Loui Eriksson for the tap in game winner.
“I was looking at (Daley) and he made a great pass,” Eriksson said. “It was pretty easy to put it home.”
Down 2-1 and Kari Lehtonen on the bench for an extra attacker, Steve Ott won the offensive zone face off back to Sheldon Souray, who settled the bouncing puck down to Alex Goligoski. Goligoski delayed and sent a slap pass to Ribeiro, who deflected it past the right toe of Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo for the game-tying goal.
“Otter won it pretty clean so it gives us more time to do something with it,” Ribeiro said. “It was a great heads up play from Goose (Goligoski). We kind of looked at each other and it was more shot pass than anything else. I was just trying to redeflect it on net and it was lucky enough it went in.”
The Stars (70 points) are just one point back of seventh place San Jose and the division-leading Phoenix Coyotes sitting in third with 73 points.
Riding a four-game winning streak, the Stars are more than familiar with third period comebacks as they erased a 1-0 deficit against the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 23 with three goals in the third period to come away with a 3-1 victory at the United Center.
“Quite frankly, we play better with stress, so I don’t mind the heat being on us a little bit here as we go down the stretch, because we need to keep going,” Gulutzan said. “We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us and we have to embrace that fact and keep playing the right way.”
The Stars were 0-4 against the Canucks last season, but this season they are 6-0-1 against teams based in Canada, including a 3-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens to begin the four-game winning streak.
“The worst part is that we have to play them three more times, but it gives us some belief that if we stick to our game plan and play a certain way that we can compete and get results,” Gulutzan said. “It’s good for our confidence moving forward.”
The four-game winning streak is the longest since the Stars won five consecutive games from Oct. 10, 2011 to Oct. 21, 2011.
The Canucks opened the scoring in the first minute of the second period as Ryan Kesler snapped a shot from the top of the left circle that just found its way past Kari Lehtonen as it tipped of his glove and in.
With just under seven minutes left in the second, Mason Raymond beat Lehtonen from a bad angle as it slipped under Lehtonen’s left arm to make it 2-0.
Lehtonen, who stopped 24 of 26 Vancouver shots, made several saves in the third period to keep the Stars in the game after surrendering two weak goals.
“For a guy who has done a lot for us the whole season, I think the guys took it a little upon themselves to help him out,” Gulutzan said. “That was said on the bench by about five players. Once teams start playing for each other and nobody else, they are just playing for each other in the room, then you’ve got a dangerous hockey club.”
Lehtonen was named the NHL’s Third Star of the week with wins against Montreal, Minnesota and Vancouver with a .965 save percentage and goals against average of 1.
The Stars went 1-for-2 on the power play with Michael Ryder scoring his team-leading 25th goal of the season off a cross-ice saucer pass from Ribeiro that he one-timed past Luongo.
“I thought that Riby made a great pass to Ryder and he executed it,” Gulutzan said. “The one thing about those guys is they can make those types of plays and we need them to do that and they did it tonight.”
Ribeiro, who has been rumored as trade bait leading up to NHL’s Feb. 27 trade deadline, extended his point streak to seven games with his goal and assist (3-7-10).
“He (Ribeiro) is playing really well right now,” Eriksson said. “He’s a really skilled guy and he always brings that every game. He scored a big one today and he had a great pass to Ryder on the first one too.”