VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) – The Dallas Stars built a three-goal lead on the Vancouver Canucks, then leaned on goalie Marty Turco to make it stand.
The Stars almost leaned too hard.
Mike Modano and Stephane Robidas scored three minutes apart early in the second period, and Steve Ott made it 4-1 with short-handed goal just 7:30 into the third period. The Stars still needed a handful of highlight-reel saves from Turco over the final 20 minutes to hang on for a 4-3 win on Tuesday night.
"Basically he won the game for us tonight," Dallas coach Dave Tippett said of Turco, whose 29 saves included a pair of point-blank stops off Taylor Pyatt; a sliding, stacked-pads effort to take away an empty net from Mattias Ohlund; and a couple against Daniel Sedin from close range. "We've got three kids 22 or under on the back there, so we need our goaltender to be good."
Trevor Daley also scored for the Stars, who ended a two-game losing streak to stay tied with the San Jose Sharks atop the Pacific Division.
"It's not the way you draw it up, giving up a couple when you have a lead in the third period," Turco said. "The first two periods were pretty good, but in the third we let it slip a little."
Ryan Kesler beat Turco after being left unchecked in the slot with 8:50 left, and Markus Naslund made it a one-goal game with 1:20 left. After squandering so many great chances earlier, the slumping Canucks didn't manage another shot and now have just one win in their last six games.
"We had enough chances to win the game still, but Turco played well and we made too many mistakes," said Naslund. " I always think when stuff like this happens, when it's mistake after mistake, it has to come down to focus and preparation."
Vancouver was also missing its best player.
Curtis Sanford started in goal while All-Star Roberto Luongo continued to spend time with his pregnant wife at their summer home in Florida. Sanford, playing his second game since Dec. 15, didn't last long.
Beaten from the goal line in the first period, Sanford was pulled after giving up another two goals — a 56-foot one-timer by Modano and Robidas' power-play point shot between his legs — just 4:31 into the second.
"It's embarrassing to get pulled in front of your own fans," Sanford said. "(Coach Alain Vigneault) had to do that. If I was in his position I would have done the same thing."
The Stars are missing top defensemen Sergei Zubov and Philippe Boucher, so they weren't feeling sorry for the Canucks. They did admit it was nice not to see Luongo, who is top-five in the NHL in wins (22), save percentage (.925), goals-against average (2.10) and shutouts (six).
"Yeah, he's one of the top five in the world, so whenever he's in Florida it's a good thing for us," said Modano, who hammered Niklas Hagman's drop pass over Sanford's glove 1:30 into the second period for a 2-1 lead. "Nice fresh ice, good pass from Nik and was kind of able to walk into it."
Playing in front of their 200th straight sellout crowd, a streak that dates back to Nov. 14, 2002, the Canucks, jumped out to a 12-5 shot advantage through 15 minutes. But for the sixth-straight game they found themselves down 1-0 when Daley walked in alone along the goal line and had his shot deflected over Sanford in the first period.
It was Daley's first goal in 25 games and second all season.
Henrik Sedin tied it from the slot less than three minutes later, but Dallas took over early in the second, and Drew MacIntyre took over for Sanford.
MacIntyre, who didn't arrive from the AHL until 1 p.m. after playing the AHL All-Star Game Monday night, only gave up Ott's short-handed goal 7:30 into the third.
It was just the second time in Luongo's two seasons in Vancouver he didn't start a home game. He will rejoin the team when it starts a four-game road trip in Tampa Bay on Thursday.
Notes:@ Canucks D Willie Mitchell missed his fourth straight game with a fractured vertebra. Mitchell, who played nine games after getting hit during a Dec. 27 game against Calgary, won't join the team for the start of an eastern road trip but according to coach Alain Vigneault could join the team during four games away. … Dallas D Sergei Zubov missed his fifth game with a groin injury and isn't on the road trip. RW Jere Lehtinen, out since Nov. 21 after sports hernia surgery, is with the team and could return in either Edmonton on Friday or Calgary on Saturday.