Stars seek to get on track versus Oilers
The Edmonton Oilers snapped out of a slump with an offensive explosion on Saturday night. Dallas hopes it can do the same tonight, as the sliding Stars host the Oilers at American Airlines Center.
The Stars surprised just about everyone with their 11-3-0 start to the season, but Dallas has fallen back to earth with losses in five straight contests. Dallas has rarely been competitive during the funk, getting outscored by a combined 21-4 margin on the skid.
After getting shut out in back-to-back games, the Stars were at least able to get on the board in Saturday's 4-1 loss against visiting San Jose. Antti Niemi made 30 saves to frustrate the home team and only Mike Ribeiro was able to get one past the Sharks goaltender.
Ribeiro scored 6:22 into the third period for Dallas' first goal in three games. The scoreless drought was 194 minutes and 11 seconds long.
Andrew Raycroft gave up four goals on 38 shots for Dallas, which started a four-game homestand and fell to 6-3-0 in Big D this season.
"I think you can see the frustration, especially in the second half of the game," said Raycroft. "Our emotions are high and we got rattled."
Raycroft was starting just his fourth game of the season and Dallas is expected to have Kari Lehtonen back between the pipes tonight. Lehtonen is 4-2-0 with a 2.68 goals-against average in six career games against the Oilers.
The Oilers had lost four straight, but bounced back in a big way with Saturday's 9-2 rout of the visiting Chicago Blackhawks. Taylor Hall notched the second hat trick of his career as Edmonton scored nine goals in a game for the first time since a 10-1 win over Calgary on November 26, 1996.
Jordan Eberle and Tom Gilbert each had a goal and three assists while rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had the best game of his young career with five assists for the Oilers.
"The one thing we always want to do is play solid defense," said Nugent- Hopkins. "As long as we play solid defense the offense will come and that was the case tonight."
Nikolai Khabibulin made 33 saves in the win. The veteran backstop has 37 career games against Dallas and is 17-17-1 with two ties over those outings.
The Oilers are beginning a four-game road trip tonight and have lost three straight and four of their last five tilts away from home. Edmonton is just 3-5-1 as the visiting team this season.
Edmonton ended a five-game losing streak to Dallas with a 4-1 home win in the last game between the clubs on Feb. 15. The Stars have won three straight and eight of their last nine home tests against the Oilers.