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Oilers hoping to find offense at home vs. Stars

by Jon Lane

STARS (8-7-2) vs. OILERS (4-13-2)


Last 10: Dallas 5-3-2; Edmonton 2-7-1

Season series: The Dallas Stars and Edmonton Oilers play the first of three games in 2013-14. Although the Oilers ended an 0-5-1 skid against the Stars with a 5-1 win in Dallas on Feb. 28, they've been outscored 13-5 in going 0-3-1 in their past four at Rexall Place.

Big story: Edmonton is looking to avoid being shut out at home for the third straight game, which would be a franchise first. The Oilers are 1-5-0 at home this season and have been outscored 17-2 in their past four home games. They return to Edmonton for the first time since hearing loud boos after a 5-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Nov. 2.

"If we're going to play like that, that's what you're going to get," coach Dallas Eakins told the team's website. "It's pro sports. The fans are allowed to express their displeasure and it's the only way they can.

"We have a lot of players frustrated right now. We have an organization frustrated with our results. We all want better."

Team Scope:

Stars: Ray Whitney (lower body) is out, so the Stars juggled their lines at practice Tuesday. Ryan Garbutt took Whitney's spot with center Vernon Fiddler and Rich Peverley. Antoine Roussel was shifted to left wing with center Cody Eakin and right wing Alex Chiasson. Rookie Valeri Nichushkin remained on the top line with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.

"We’ve looked at a couple of different combinations," Stars coach Lindy Ruff told reporters. "We tried something [Monday] and we tried something [Tuesday]. We’ll make a decision [Wednesday]."

Whatever sticks, Ruff is hoping to see big improvement from a power play that's 2-for-29 in the past nine games, including 0-for-6 in a 5-2 loss Saturday to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Oilers: Among the myriad of issues in Edmonton is the state of the goaltending. Devan Dubnyk, Jason LaBarbera and Richard Bachman have combined to allow a League-worst 3.95 goals per game. Forced to make a move, Edmonton signed veteran Ilya Bryzgalov and sent him to the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League in preparation for a return to the NHL.

"It's a good opportunity for me to play a few games, get some good practice with good players to get some shots and get myself in good shape," Bryzgalov said.

Who's hot: Benn has two goals and an assist in his past three games and eight points in seven career games in Edmonton. The Stars captain also has points in four of his past five and shares the team lead with 16 points. Goalie Kari Lehtonen is 5-1-0 with a 2.24 goals-against average on the road and owns a 1.24 GAA during a four-game win streak at Edmonton. … Oilers right wing Taylor Hall has two goals and two assists in three games since returning from a knee injury.

Injury report: Whitney was placed on IR retroactive to Nov. 9 and will miss at least the first two games of the Stars' three-game road trip. … The Oilers are missing a plethora of players. On IR are Steve MacIntyre (knee), Corey Potter (strained back), Ryan Hamilton (knee), Tyler Pitlick (sprained left knee), Justin Schultz (strained groin/rib cage) and Bachman (strained groin). Luke Gazdic (shoulder) is questionable.

Follow Jon Lane on Twitter: @JonLaneNHL

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