The Dallas Stars will try to boost their playoff chances by continuing their recent mastery of the Oilers, as the teams meet this evening at Edmonton's Rexall Place.
The Stars, who enter today tied with Phoenix for the last two playoff spots in a crowded Western Conference race, have outscored the Oilers by a combined 11-3 margin while taking the first three of four meetings between the clubs this season. Dallas has also claimed eight of nine overall in this series and three of the last four encounters in Edmonton.
With six games left in its regular season, Dallas is tied with the Coyotes for the seventh seed in the West and the clubs are also just one point behind San Jose for the Pacific Division lead. The Stars have a game in hand to use tonight over Phoenix, which is idle ahead of Thursday's showdown with the Sharks.
Dallas and the Coyotes are also just one point ahead of Los Angeles -- another Pacific Division club -- and Colorado for the final playoff berths out West. Calgary is one point further back in the conference's 11th spot. The Kings visit Calgary tonight, while Colorado is set to play in Vancouver.
The Stars split a recent home-and-home series with the Flames, posting a 4-1 win in Dallas on Saturday before dropping a 5-4 regulation decision Monday night in Calgary. Mike Cammalleri posted a goal and two assists to lift the Flames to the victory at the Saddledome.
The loss dropped Dallas to second in the Pacific Division as San Jose defeated Colorado on Monday to take over first place.
Jamie Benn scored twice for the Stars, who have lost four of six games since opening March on a six-game winning streak. Philip Larsen and Mike Ribeiro both had a goal on Monday for Dallas, while Kari Lehtonen gave up all five goals on 35 shots.
"You got to learn how to win, the way we went about it doesn't look like we wanna win," said Dallas head coach Glen Gulutzan. "It really doesn't. They got to figure it out for themselves, they either want it or don't."
Dallas opened a four-game road trip on Monday and the Stars have been a solid visiting team this season, compiling a 19-16-2 record as the guest.
Even though the Stars have fared very well against Edmonton in recent meetings, Dallas should not take the Oilers for granted tonight, as Tom Renney's club is boasting a 5-0-2 record in its last seven trips to the ice. Cleary the Oilers, who have been eliminated from postseason contention, are relishing in the spoiler role.
The Oilers posted a 6-3 win at Columbus in its most recent game, as Ryan Jones finished with a goal and two assists to lead the way for Edmonton at Nationwide Arena.
Chris VandeVelde, Ladislav Smid, Ben Eager, Eric Belanger and Sam Gagner all scored, while Jordan Eberle, Ryan Whitney and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins added two assists apiece for the Oilers. Devan Dubnyk made 29 saves in the victory.
"We came into this one with our eyes closed," Oilers head coach Tom Renney said. "Sometimes it's tough to conjure up the emotion to play. Luckily we responded well."
Edmonton, which will also host Los Angeles on Friday, is 18-15-5 as the home club this season.
In other news for the Oilers, the club will not have forward Taylor Hall for the rest of the season after he opted to undergo labral surgery on his left shoulder. Hall, who was the No. 1 overall pick by Edmonton in the 2010 draft, is expected to need five-to-six months to recover and had 27 goals and 26 assists in 61 games this season.