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West-leading Stars wrap up playoff spot, beating Canucks 3-1 for 6th straight victory

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Roope Hintz had a goal and two assists and the Western Conference-leading Dallas Stars wrapped up a playoff spot, beating the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 on Thursday night for their sixth straight victory.

“You have to do a lot of work, starting six, seven months ago, to give yourself the opportunity to be one of those 16 teams that plays for the Stanley Cup,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “So, I’m just proud of our group. You go through all kinds of adversity through the year, injuries and different things, but we found a way every week to find a way to wins games.”

Jake Oettinger stopped 27 shot to help Dallas improve to 46-19-9 and open a three-point lead over second-place Vancouver in the West.

“It felt like a playoff game,” Oettinger said. “They’re a great team, obviously, over there. They’ve been one of the best teams in the league all year and there’s just not a lot of flaws in that team. So just a good measuring stick and obviously we know what’s at stake. Just to get a gritty win like that is huge.”

Jamie Benn added a goal and an an assist, Jason Robertson had an empty-netter and Joe Pavelski had two assists. Dallas went 2 for 5 on the power play, while Vancouver was 0 for 3.

A “mechanical” power play and careless penalties proved costly for the Canucks, said coach Rick Tocchet.

“I think guys will be disappointed,” he said. “You’re looking for somebody to make a play or maybe a little more discipline. Maybe that’s the difference in the game. These games are coin flips.”

J.T. Miller scored for Vancouver, and Casey DeSmith made 31 saves.

“This is the kind of hockey it’s probably going to be the rest of the way, the kind of hockey it is around the league right now,” DeSmith said. “Everyone’s just trying to buckle down and play the right way, do the right things. I thought we did that for most of the night. Obviously, special teams was the difference.”

Benn gave Dallas a 2-1 lead on a power play with 3:08 left, scoring a snap shot from the slot. The Stars captain has points in eight straight games and goals in six.

Hintz opened the scoring on a power late in the first period. Miller tied it midway through the second, sending a one-timer flying past Oettinger for his 35th.

Vancouver pulled DeSmith late for an extra attacker, only to see Hintz win a neutral-zone puck battle that led to Robertson tucking a shot into the empty net for his 27th.

UP NEXT

Stars: At Seattle on Saturday night.

Canucks: Host Anaheim on Sunday.

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AP NHL: https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL

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