Oettinger for Game 2 DAL column

DALLAS -- This is what the Dallas Stars can do, and this is what they will have to do to defeat the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference Final.

After a poor first period at American Airlines Center on Saturday, the Stars shut down the Oilers’ star-studded offense over the final two periods and won 3-1, tying the best-of-7 series 1-1.

Shots for Edmonton: 16 in the first period, eight in the second and five in the third.

Goals for Edmonton forwards Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Zach Hyman: zero, after each scored in Game 1.

“I think the first period, for whatever reason, we were tentative,” Dallas coach Pete DeBoer said. “We had talked about playing with a Game 7 mindset, and I think our intentions were in the right place, but we looked like we were just …

“We were waiting. We were waiting for something to happen. I thought we kind of regrouped at the end of the first and decided to get to our game. I loved the second and third. I thought we were excellent.”

The Stars weren’t on their game in a 3-2 double-overtime loss in Game 1. They partly wrote it off to the fact they had a five-day break after defeating the Colorado Avalanche in six games in the second round, while the Oilers had only two days off after defeating the Vancouver Canucks in seven games in the second.

They had no excuses this time. Captain Jamie Benn gave Dallas a 1-0 lead at 3:39 of the first period, but forward Connor Brown responded for Edmonton at 4:23. Not only did the Oilers outshoot the Stars 16-4 in the first, but they outskated them badly. Where was the team that had handled the Avalanche’s speed and star players so well?

At that point, the story was Dallas goalie Jake Oettinger.

“If he doesn’t play the way he does in the first, we’re in a big hole and we might not get out of it,” DeBoer said. “He was our best player tonight. He allowed us to kind of weather the storm in the first, get our legs under us and find a way to get control of that game.”

WCF, Gm2: Oilers @ Stars Recap

During the first intermission, the Stars talked about the need to establish the forecheck, to keep the puck in the Edmonton end and stop the Oilers before they got started. The second period was better. Dallas outshot Edmonton 11-8.

The third period was even better than that. Forward Mason Marchment gave the Stars a 2-1 lead at 3:41.

“It was critical,” DeBoer said. “That allows you to stay above them and manage the puck and not try and push outside your comfort zone trying to score.”

The Stars allowed the Oilers only one shot in the third until 3:27 remained and ended up outshooting them 10-5 in the period. Defenseman Esa Lindell scored into an empty net with 2:03 to go.

DeBoer noted blocked shots by forward Joe Pavelski and defensemen Miro Heiskanen, Ryan Suter and Chris Tanev down the stretch.

“I just don’t think we were good enough in the first,” Marchment said. “‘Jakey’ stood on his head and made some massive saves and allowed us to kind of get our feet wet. I thought after that, we kind of took over and started playing our game. Playing low and getting pucks in. I thought for the rest of the game, we did a great job.”

The Stars excelled at protecting leads against the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round. With the notable exception of Game 1, when they blew a 3-0 lead and lost 4-3 in overtime, they did a good job of it against the Avalanche in the second round.

This is what they want to do against the Oilers. They can’t trade scoring chances with McDavid and company. They’ve got to establish the forecheck and take away time and space all over the ice, and they’re way better off playing with the lead.

Game 3 is at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Monday (8:30 p.m. ET; CBC, TVAS, SN, TNT, truTV, MAX).

“Just doing things the right way,” Oettinger said. “Those 50-50 battles or pucks, I think guys are just choosing to be on the [defensive] side. When you have the best player of all time probably on the other side, those are the decisions that can make or break him scoring or not. It’s a group effort to defend a guy like that, and we all did that. Those blocks, the sticks in lanes, all that stuff that we did, that’s what you need to win.”