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Scenes from morning skate: Joshua and Bains back in as Canucks host Stars in showdown of division leaders

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
15 days ago
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Somebody is cresting the 100-point mark tonight when the Vancouver Canucks (45-19-8) host the Dallas Stars (45-19-9). The Stars sit in the top spot in both the Central Division and Western Conference with 99 points, while the Canucks are just one point behind atop the Pacific Division. If the Canucks win in overtime or a shootout, both teams will reach the century mark. 
The Canucks will also clinch a playoff spot for the first time in four years with a victory.

What we saw 

Dakota Joshua and Arshdeep Bains will both draw into the lineup tonight, replacing Phil Di Giuseppe and Nils Aman. Joshua has missed 18 games with a hand injury while Bains returns for a second NHL stint after playing five games last month. Elias Lindholm will miss his second straight game with an undisclosed injury. Based on practice yesterday, Joshua will skate with JT Miller and Brock Boeser, while Bains will likely slot in on a fourth line with Pius Suter and Vasily Podkolzin.
The Canucks saw their three-game win streak snapped with a 3-2 home ice loss to Los Angeles on Monday. Sam Lafferty and Brock Boeser scored the Vancouver goals. Boeser leads the team with 37 on the season with 10 games left to chase the 40-goal mark. The team established a season-high with 47 hits in the game.
Casey DeSmith will make his seventh consecutive start in goal. He has not allowed more than three goals in regulation in any of his last seven outings. DeSmith is 2-1 lifetime against the Stars with a 1.68 GAA and a .929 save percentage.
Canucks penalty killers have successfully killed off 12 straight short-handed situations over the past five games since Colorado scored on a power play in overtime on March 13th. The Avs also scored on a 5-on-3 that night. Those are the only power play goals the Canucks have allowed in their last 10 games. So they have not surrendered a conventional power play goal this month. Their PK is 18 for 20 (90%) in March.
Dallas rolls into town on a five-game win streak and prevailing in 10 of its last 12 games after a 6-3 victory in San Jose on Tuesday. The Stars are the second highest scoring team in the league averaging 3.66 goals per game. Their roster does not have a 30-goal scorer (yet), but boasts seven 20-goal scorers plus defenceman Thomas Harley who has 15 goals.
Wyatt Johnston scored twice on Tuesday and leads the team with 28 goals, while Roope Hintz and Jason Robertson have 26 goals apiece. Robertson has a team-high 74 points. Victoria’s Jamie Benn enters the night with goals in five straight games, scoring six times and adding four assists on a seven-game point streak. A goal tonight will match his career high for goals in consecutive games. A point tonight will give him 900 for his NHL career (379+520=899).
Tonight marks the first NHL game in Vancouver for Kamloops native and former Kamloops Blazers standout Logan Stankhoven. The 21-year-old has 6+5=11 in his first 15 big league games. 
Former Canuck defenceman Chris Tanev returns to town for the first time as a member of the Stars. He was acquired from Calgary ahead of this year’s trade deadline and has appeared in 10 games in a Dallas uniform. 
The Stars are the most disciplined team in the NHL, averaging a league-low 6.8 penalty minutes per game. Along with Carolina, they have had the fewest major penalties (8) in the league this season, and the Stars are the only team yet to be assessed a misconduct penalty.
The Canucks have taken three of four points off Dallas so far this season, winning 2-0 at home on November 4th and falling 4-3 in overtime in the Lone Star State on December 21st. Matt Duchene scored the winner at 4:50 of OT.
Tonight’s referees: Graham Skilliter & Dan O’Rourke
Tonight’s broadcasters: John Shorthouse & Ray Ferraro

What we heard

Rick Tocchet on facing a team with so much scoring depth: “They’re a team that plays a solid game. I know Pete DeBoer well and he’s an excellent coach and I know the things that are important to him, some tendencies that they do. There’s a lot of things they do very well and there’s not a lot of weaknesses in their game. They know how to play a 1-0 game and they know how to play a 6-5 game. They can play any way you want. So it’s a great challenge, but we’ve actually played them well the last year and they’ve always been tight games. And it’ll probably be another tight game tonight.”
Tocchet on the idea of trying Nils Höglander in the bumper on first power play unit: “Well, he’s been on the other unit and he’s had the puck a few times on the half-wall – and I think everyone wants to press his development and I’m not sure that’s the right thing to do. And I think we’ve been right on that. We want to try to get Sutes (Pius Suter) and some other guys going and the power play has actually been good the last week. I’m not sure that’s the right call. It could be down the road, but right now I don’t think so.”
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