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Jamie Benn catching fire, Canucks take it on the chin from the Dallas Stars

November 20, 2019, 2:44 PM ET [255 Comments]
Carol Schram
Vancouver Canucks Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Tuesday November 20 - Dallas Stars 6 - Vancouver Canucks 1


The Vancouver Canucks suffered their most lopsided defeat of the 2019-20 season to date as they kicked off their six-game road trip with a 6-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday at American Airlines Center.

Here are your highlights:

As Iain MacIntyre so eloquently put it in his intermission conversation with Dan Murphy from Dallas, the Canucks have now gotten so good at surrendering the first goal, they did it twice on Tuesday.

Vancouver has now given up the first goal in 15 of its 22 games — and it's hurting them. They're just 4-7-4 when it happens, a winning percentage of .267. When they do score first, they're 6-1-0.

Just 1:26 into the first period on Tuesday, red-hot Justin Dowling broke in and beat Jacob Markstrom on the first shot of the game to ignite the crowd in Dallas. The Canucks successfully had that goal overturned because Tyler Seguin was offside.

It took another six minutes for the Stars to get on the board for real, when Jamie Benn charged into the slot while the Canucks forwards were making a poor line change. It was the first of two goals for Benn, whose individual season started trending in the right direction in Vancouver last week — well after his team had started its turnaround.

Benn bumped a five-game pointless streak with an assist last Thursday, then got two points in Edmonton on Saturday before finishing with three points and first-star honours on Tuesday in the rematch against the Canucks.

"We’re getting healthy and we lost some guys so this turnaround has been a whole team effort," Benn told Ben Kuzma of The Province about how the Stars got out of their early-season funk.

"There were many points during that losing streak where we were looking for answers and trying to figure out what was going on. We brought in some great leaders who helped in that situations and Perry getting healthy really helped. It wasn’t just me."

Are there lessons that the Canucks can take from seeing how Dallas has found its game again?

The team is starting to get healthier, with Jay Beagle returning to action on Tuesday. And as a Stanley Cup winner who also experienced plenty of playoff heartbreak with Washington, Beagle knows a thing or two about mental toughness.

"It’s when you go through the valley that’s when the true test is" Beagle told Kuzma. "This is going to define us for the season. It might take one, two, three or four games, but we have to figure it out. It’s details. It’s little things that add up and things start to fall apart and you cheat a little bit. And it’s not a lack of trying.

"You have to work harder than you ever have. We have to go after teams. We didn’t even deserve to be in that game. And we know it. And we know it hasn’t been just one game. I look forward to the challenge because that’s how you grow and get stronger."

If there was one silver lining in the game, it was Bo Horvat's first goal in 10 games. It was his seventh of the year, but his first proper 5-on-5 goal of the season. Before Tuesday, he had five on the power play and one into an empty net. That goal, midway through the second period, cut Dallas' lead to 2-1 and could have given the Canucks some life after they'd squandered a long 5-on-3 opportunity a few minutes earlier. But it took the Stars just two minutes to restore their two-goal lead, then they dropped the hammer with two more goals in the first three and a half minutes of the third to settle the outcome once and for all.

"They dumped pucks in and forechecked and kept their game the whole game," Horvat told Kuzma. "When we were successful, we did the same thing. They had way too much off the rush and we weren’t hard enough on the back check.

"It’s not gone off the rails, We have to learn. We’re going to remember this feeling and not have it happen again."

With nearly a full period of garbage time, Travis Green was able to cut back a bit on the ice time of his busiest players. After playing 27:06 against Nashville and 25:55 against Colorado last week, Horvat logged 20:27 in Dallas on Tuesday. Alex Edler is averaging 24:52 a game this season — 18 seconds a game more than last year and the highest average ice time of his career to date.

Edler has been forced to take on extra responsibilities in a few situations where the Canucks have lost a defenseman to injury early in a game, but with all six defensemen healthy on Saturday, he played 27:09 against Colorado. By comparison, Edler's night on Tuesday was a relatively light 22:01 of action.

Green also did a fair amount of line-juggling as Tuesday's game went along. Most notably, in the second half of the game he had Horvat skating with J.T. Miller and Josh Leivo, while Elias Pettersson played with Brock Boeser and Tanner Pearson.

With any luck, the Canucks will get a good opportunity to rediscover their mojo on Thursday. Their most recent regulation win came at home last week against Nashville, and the Preds have continued to struggle since returning to Bridgestone Arena, with a 7-2 loss to Chicago last Saturday and a 2-1 defeat by Winnipeg on Tuesday. That stretches their winless streak to five games and, like Vancouver, they've now won just once in their last eight.

Before that, the Utica Comets are back in action on Wednesday, hosting a Binghamton Devils squad that does not yet include recently-waived Cory Schneider.

If you missed it, Comets defenseman Olli Juolevi has suffered yet another injury setback.

Even more than the Canucks' November swoon, this really feels like deja vu all over again. Last season, Juolevi played his last game with the Comets on November 17, 2018. He was 1-12-13 and a minus-12 in 18 games before coming to Vancouver to be examined for what was initially believed to be a minor knee injury.

This season, Juolevi was 0-5-5 in 14 games. His last appearance came on November 11; he didn't play in the Comets' games last weekend.

No update yet on his condition.

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