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Alex Edler is foiled by Marty Turco in Tuesday's 4-3 Canucks setback. ((Richard Lam/Canadian Press))

Try as he might, Curtis Sanford couldn't emulate Roberto Luongo on Tuesday night.

Sanford surrendered three goals on just 11 shots as the Canucks lost 4-3 to the visiting Dallas Stars in front of 18,630 fans at General Motors Place.

It was Vancouver's 200th consecutive sellout, but Luongo wasn't there to celebrate it, remaining in Florida with his pregnant wife.

Luongo will return Thursday at Tampa Bay (4:30 p.m. PT).

"He is one of the top five in the world, so, whenever he is in Florida, it is a good thing for us," Stars forward Mike Modano said.

Sanford was given a rare start in Luongo's absence, only to be pulled in favour of rookie Drew MacIntyre 4:31 into the second period.

"It is embarrassing to get pulled in front of your own fans," Sanford said. "[But head coach Alain Vigneault] had to do that.

"If I was in his position, I would have done the same thing."

Modano and Stephane Robidas had one goal and one assist apiece as the Stars (29-20-5) snapped a three-game losing streak.

Trevor Daley and Steve Ott also scored, and Mike Ribeiro contributed two assists.

Ott's short-handed goal 7:30 into the third period, off a 2-on-1 break with Jeff Halpern, proved to be the decisive goal.

Ryan Kesler and Markus Naslund replied at 11:10 and 18:40, respectively, but the Canucks (26-21-5) fell short of equalizing.

"We had enough chances to win the game still," but [Marty] Turco played well and we made too many mistakes," Naslund said. "I always think when stuff like this happens — when it is mistake after mistake — it has to come down to focus and preparation."

Turco preserved the victory with several challenging saves, including a pair of point-blank stops on Taylor Pyatt.

Turco finished with 29 stops.

"Basically, he won the game for us tonight," Stars head coach Dave Tippett said. 

Henrik Sedin scored Vancouver's first goal with 1:32 left in the first period, and Daniel Sedin provided two assists.

With files from the Canadian Press