The Edmonton Oilers (13-11-2) traveled to the Lone Star state to take on the Dallas Stars (14-10-3) this evening. Dallas came into this one feeling good, having won two in a row against Calgary and Vancouver, and ready to avenge last week’s loss to our local heroes.
The Oilers were feeling good coming into this matchup as well, sporting a fancy 4-1-1 record under the Hitchcockian era and riding the coat-tails of a hot goalie. However, the big (and surprising) pregame news going into this matchup was the unexpected absence of Connor McDavid due to illness. Clearly, a major test for this team and a glorious opportunity for other members of this team to step up. It was a nice thought.
The Mcdavid-less Oilers start the game by sandwiching Draisatl between a 35% shooter and a 0.000035% shooter with a Lucic-Chiasson combo, and naturally big Looch kills any semblance of playmaking with his stone hands. While the announcers talked highly of the Oilers ability to maintain pressure for the first five minutes, a more critical eye would say that the group looked choppy and unorganized (as evidenced by an inability to complete a pass).
The Stars and Oilers trade a couple of chances, with Chiasson missing on a no-look backhand after the Oilers leave Tyler Seguin wide open for a one timer from beside the net. This Oilers group loves to tempt the hockey gods, nothing of it thankfully.
Larsson makes a nice play to stop a rush to the net before getting mugged behind the Oilers net, and then a partial break for McKassian is sent 5 feet wide as Zack tries to replicate Connor’s highlight reel tuck against VGK.
Unfortunately, a bad bounce (or break) goes against the Oilers and Janmark’s broken stick puts the puck on a pedestal for Dickinson who makes no mistake from in close. Hard to fault Koskinen or the Oilers D on that one. In return, the Oilers ice an ineffectual Milan Lucic-led power play after the ever-graceful Jesse Puljujarvi draws an interference call on Anton Khudobin.
RNH and Draisatl dominate the ice-time in this period, at 7:10 and 8:40 respectively, as they take turns centring a fourth line winged by the polarizing Ty Rattie and (who?) Patrick Russell. The team is 64% on draws, led by the 4/5 Draisatl.
Poor change ruins some sustained pressure early in the period by the Oilers, and the low-event game continues.
Once again, Seguin is left alone on the side again and he almost tucks in the deflection. What did I say about tempting the hockey gods?! The Stars get a few one off chances after this chance, but Koskinen is mostly ready with the glove (with only a bobble or two in there). Oilers follow those chances up with a few of their own, as Leon gets a nice chance on a 2 on 1 with Chiasson but can’t finish as he tries to slide the biscuit under Khudobin’s pad. Then Mr. 35% caps off some impressive zone time by trying to take Khudobin’s head off before Pujuularvi follows his own rebound and gets a few dangerous chances. Still 1-0 Stars.
Dickinson drops to the ice like he got shot in the head after a follow-through on the clearout by Khaira, Dallas bench continues to cry but there’s (correctly) no call. The officials return the favour to the Dallas Stars by not calling an obvious high stick on Caggiula from Jamie Benn. I’m wondering if I’ll see one hockey game this year where the refs call the rules?
The first Dallas Stars power play is courtesy of Matt Benning and a marginal holding the stick call. Koskinen makes a big stop on Devin Shore after a nice passing play and some help from the Stars’ extra defenseman (the linesman).
Seguin left alone again and bounces it off the bar before Koskinen stones Benn point black (reminiscent of last week’s game). The game starts to take a nasty turn as Polak dumps Gravel and Chiasson goes after Radulov. Kassian ready to mix it up with whoever wants it.
Benning rang a point shot off the post and it went the way of the bad guys, no goal. On the other end, Russell made a nice play with his stick on a streaking Janmark. Stars crush the Oilers for the rest of the second period but the Oil prevent a spill, keep it at 1-0. Shots 19-14 for the good guys. Hits 18-11 for the bad guys.
Lots of game left, Koskinen keeping the boys in it so far. Will Cam Talbot play again this year with Mikko playing so well?
The period starts with Lindell absolutely levelling Darnell Nurse behind the net, continuing a game-long nasty streak. Brett Ritchie finishes off another fourth line goal for Dallas after Janmark fans on the puck again in front of the net. 2-0 Stars on mistakes from Janmark.
Benn was running around all game, hitting anyone and any time. Kassian braces for contact as Benn flies in again, and big Zack gets the interference call. Stars strike quickly on the power play, and after another missed call on Jamie Benn, he’s the one who finds the twine. 3-0. Kassian racked up a 10 minute misconduct after the goal.
A melee takes over the game as Chiasson hits Spezza in the numbers, and but the ref’s focus is on saving Devin Shore’s life after Nurse starts feeding him over and over. Frustration taking over for the Oilers as the Stars take a stranglehold on the game.
Khaira getting some time on the top line, replacing Lucic on the Draisatl line and knocking home his own rebound take break Khudobin’s shutout. Chris Wideman gets his first point as an Oiler, with Draisatl as the primary assist on Khaira’s second effort score. 3-1 Dallas.
The Oilers are gifted a power play with a few minutes left, but give up a 200-foot short-handed empty-netter to Esa Lindell. And that was that.
4-1 Dallas. Final score. Four different Stars find the back of the net as Dallas wins their third straight.
McDavid-less Oilers unable to finish off their chances tonight. Out-muscled and out-hustled by the Stars tonight, despite a decent overall effort. Draisatl, RNH and Koskinen tried to carry the Oilers to a respectable game, but still come up short.
A tough game to watch, really. The effort was there but there’s simply not enough depth or talent to support any McDavid absences. Pray for a quick healing process for the captain.
Next up: At St. Louis, Wednesday night.