Canucks on Their Heels
Marty Turco and the Dallas Stars are one win from making - and perhaps more importantly, erasing - some franchise history.
A win in Game 7 on Monday night in Vancouver would make it the first time in 13 attempts a Stars team came back from a 3-1 playoff deficit. They've given themselves the chance by eliminating the problems of past playoff failures.
Oddsmakers have made Vancouver -125 money line (NHL Odds) favorites for todays game, the over/under has been set at 4.5 total goals (View NHL Sports Books). Our public betting information shows that 53% of bets for this game have been placed on Dallas +110 (View NHL Bet Percentages).
First Turco and the Stars ended a six-game overtime drought by winning Game 5 in Vancouver 1-0 on Brenden Morrow's power-play goal. Then they ended a six-game slide on home ice by beating the Canucks 2-0 in a one-sided Game 6.
With a win Monday, fans in Dallas might finally be willing to forget the last two first-round collapses.
``If we keep playing like we have been the last couple games, we'll be all right, said Turco, whose three shutouts this series quieted talk of the early playoff exits that preceded it.
Turco, who came into the series under heavy scrutiny for an 8-14 playoff record and career save percentage that dropped from .914 in the regular season to .892 in the postseason, has answered his critics with help from a stingy defense.
He started the series without a single shutout in 22 career playoff games, but has already tied the NHL record for most shutouts in a single series. He can break the 13-way tie by blanking the Canucks again in his first Game 7.
``You can try to create Groundhog Days for yourself as much as you want to, but every day is a new day,'' said Turco, who comes in with a career-long shutout streak of 130:33.
Since the end of regulation in Game 1, when it was tied 4-4, Turco has a .077 goals-against average and a .972 save percentage. The numbers are even better in Vancouver, where the Canucks haven't put a puck past Turco since the fourth overtime of Game 1.
``This is the first game where their backs have been against the wall so you've got to expect they're going to come out and play hard and play with that desperation,'' Stars coach Dave Tippett said. ``We have to have that same commitment.''
While the Stars try to make history, the Canucks hope to avoid repeating it. They haven't scored since winning Game 4 to lead the series 3-1, and have lost their last two Game 7s on home ice, including one against Minnesota in 2003 that completed another collapse from a 3-1 series lead.
The style, coaching staff and two-thirds of the roster have changed since then, but there are some players left from the last two Game 7 losses. Those incumbents were taking heat from the new coach Alain Vigneault, who ripped their effort after Game 6 and again after practice Sunday.
``The only thing I want is them to work,'' Vigneault said. ``When we don't work like last night I'm not going to test your intelligence, I'm not going to test our fans' intelligence. I'm going to come out and say what it is, and we got outchanced something like 15-2. Our guys just didn't work and compete, and that's not acceptable.''
Just as Stars scoring veteran Mike Modano was under fire for a goal drought before scoring the winner early on a 5-on-3 power play in Game 6, the Canucks big guns are now in the Vancouver spotlight for failing to produce.
Top line forwards Daniel and Henrik Sedin didn't have a shot in Game 6 and haven't recorded a point since combining on the winner in the fourth overtime of Game 1. Markus Naslund has also been held without a point since Game 1.
``Momentum might mean a little, but I don't think it means a lot in Game 7,'' Naslund said.
Some of the credit goes to Turco, who has made some big saves at key points, but if you ask the Canucks, they just haven't forced him to make nearly enough tough stops. They've only managed 21 shots in each of the last two games and their power play has been shutdown 23 straight times since Game 1 and is now 1-for-28 in the series.
The Stars are just 4-for-35, but have scored the winning goals in each of the last two games with the man advantage.
``Our power play has to get a goal, that's the bottom line,'' Naslund said. ``When we have our backs against the wall, we usually respond well so we're going to have a good one.''
Actually, the Canucks have lost six straight potential series-clinching games dating to 2003. If there is a bright spot for Vancouver, it's Roberto Luongo, who has arguably been better than Turco because he's had to make tougher stops more often.
Luongo's .950 save percentage is only slightly behind his counterpart's .955 mark.
``It's a one-game series and that's what it's all about: Game 7 in the playoffs,'' Luongo said.
Notes: Dallas D Sergei Zubov will be a game-time decision after leaving Game 6 with a ``torso injury,'' but Tippett expects him to play. ... Morrow also plans to play despite limping off the ice late in Game 6 after being slashed on the back of the leg by Alexandre Burrows. ... Canucks D Kevin Bieksa missed parts of Game 6 and practice Sunday with the flu, but is also expected to play Monday.
by: Gary Roberts - theSpread.com - Email Us
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