Surging Canucks sock it to Stars
Max Lapierre had a lot of fun — at the Dallas Stars' expense.
A perennial fourth-liner moved up to the first line, Lapierre had a goal and two assists Friday night in the Vancouver Canucks' 5-2 victory that dropped the Stars from the third seed in the Western Conference to the seventh spot.
''I didn't wish it, but I was a little bit surprised,'' Lapierre said.
The Canucks won their fifth straight to move within a point of St. Louis for the Western Conference lead. Vancouver is two points behind the New York Rangers for the overall lead.
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault juggled his top forward line, putting Lapierre with Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows. Lapierre filled in for Daniel Sedin, who missed his fifth consecutive game because of a concussion.
''When he plays with confidence and with that speed, he looks like Guy Lafleur out there,'' Burrows said about Lapierre. ''Guys like to give it to him. They (chanted) 'Guy! Guy!' once he got into the locker room. But he's a great teammate, and it couldn't happen to a better guy.''
Chris Higgins, Sami Salo, Andrew Alberts and Alex Burrows also scored for the Canucks.
Cory Schneider made 32 saves for his 12th victory in his past 14 starts. He was a surprise starter after Roberto Luongo left the pregame warmups early because of a stiff neck.
''You never want to be forced into that situation,'' Schneider said. ''You hope everything is fine with Lou, but that's my job.''
Steve Ott and Jake Dowell scored for Dallas.
The Stars began the night with the Pacific Division lead, but dropped a point behind Los Angeles after the Kings beat Edmonton. Dallas and Phoenix are in the final two playoff spots in the conference with 89 points. The Stars, Los Angeles and Phoenix all have four games left.
''We've got to kick the losses as quick as we can and move on to the next game, because there's only four left now,'' Ott said.
Luongo skated off the ice with about four minutes to go in the warmups. Schneider went between the pipes at the start of the game, while Luongo took his place on the bench as the backup. It was Schneider's second straight start. He shut out Colorado 1-0 on Wednesday night.
Higgins opened the scoring 6:17 into the game, putting in a pass from Jannik Hansen after the puck bounced off Dallas defenseman Alex Goligoski. It was the fourth goal in four games for Higgins, who scored the lone goal against Colorado.
Ott tied it off his own rebound at 3:16 of the second period.
Salo scored on a power play with 8:59 left in the period, and Alberts made it 3-1 with 3:35 to go. Alberts ended his scoring drought at 28 games.
Burrows made it 4-1 midway through the third period. Less than a minute after the goal, Kari Lehtonen was replaced in the Dallas net by Richard Bachman.
About a minute later, Lapierre scored on Vancouver's first shot on Bachman.
''That line got more comfortable as the game went on,'' Vigneault said. ''I'm not saying I foresee it staying together in the future, but it's nice to see some guys can step up.''
Dowell closed out the scoring with 2:42 left.