VANCOUVER – Sven Baertschi’s hockey season simply hasn’t been long enough.
The Vancouver Canucks left-winger tallied his ninth goal and 14th point of the year on Saturday, helping his team to a 3-2 shootout win over the Dallas Stars.
But Baertschi knows that if he had stayed healthy, he’d likely have many, many more points to his name.
“Decent pace just not enough games, I guess. It’s tough,” he said. “It’s hard to say what it would have been like if I played all 82 games. But for me, no matter how many games I play, I want to get better as a player and I want to take steps forward.”
The 26-year-old has missed 53 games this season with a concussion and post-concussion syndrome. Saturday’s goal was his first since Jan. 23.
The play saw the Swiss forward collect the puck from right-winger Brock Boeser at the blue line, streak into the offensive zone and snipe a wrist shot from the bottom of the face-off circle, beating Stars goalie Anton Khudobin five-hole.
“It’s been a long time,” he said. “I saw the 2-on-1 and I saw it was (Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson) on the other side and I think he has enough goals this year so I just shot it myself.”
Vancouver coach Travis Green liked the way Baertschi fit on a line with Pettersson and Boeser on Saturday, and was glad to see him score.
“It’s been a hard year for him,” Green said. “To see him get a goal and a big goal, you’re happy for him.”
Tim Schaller also scored for Vancouver (34-35-10) in regulation and Markus Granlund cemented the win by scoring in the eighth round of the shootout.
Andrew Cogliano and Alexander Radulov responded for the Stars (41-31-7), who fell just short of a playoff-clinching win after erasing a 2-0 deficit in the third period.
Losing in the shootout when playoffs were on the line was tough, said Dallas defenceman John Klingberg.
“A lot of guys wanted to step up and be the hero,” he said. “Unfortunately it didn’t happen but just the way we dig in as a team right now is building a lot of confidence for sure in this room.”
Still, one point is better than none, Radulov said.
“It’s huge right now. We’ll take that. Our goal is to make the playoffs so we are one point away from it, so we shouldn’t wait for anybody. We’ve just got to go get that point or two next game and go from there.”
The Canucks weren’t thinking about playing spoiler on Saturday, said Green.
“We just want to play well and win,” he said. “We want a team that wants to win, whatever they do, whenever they play.”
Despite the loss, the Stars sat in the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference on Saturday night. They’re four points up on the Colorado Avalanche., who hold the second wild card.
Vancouver’s faint playoff hopes were snuffed out on Friday when the Avs beat the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 in a shootout.
Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom stopped 38-of-40 shots in regulation on Saturday and Khudobin put up 29 saves for the Stars.
Markstrom said he could tell Dallas was a team playing with something on the line.
“It’s just nice to play good teams and teams that play. It’s competitive games and good practice for us because they’re in the spot where we want to be,” the goalie said.
“It’s been a long year but we’ve got to keep grinding here these last three games.”
The Canucks will play their last home game of the season on Tuesday when they host the San Jose Sharks.
The Stars will face the Philadelphia Flyers in Dallas the same night.
NOTES: Canucks right-winger Jake Virtanen missed game with a lower-body injury. Green said he is listed as day-to-day. … Radulov extended his point streak to five games. … Tyler Seguin’s six-game point streak was snapped. The Dallas centre had scored four goals and six assists across the stretch.
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