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Oilers look to get back into win column against Stars

by Tal Pinchevsky

STARS (4-5-1) at OILERS (4-3-2)

TV: FS-Southwest+; TSN

Season series: This is the first of three meetings this season between two teams that will play each other twice in the next week. Dallas swept the four-game season series last season.

Big story: A team full of veteran talent, Dallas is working to find some level of consistency while Edmonton, one of the League's youngest clubs, appears to be a completely changed group. Edmonton has struggled considerably the past few years, but is 2-1-2 in its last five games.

Team Scope:

Stars: After encountering short stretches without Jamie Benn due to a contract holdout and Jaromir Jagr due to injury, Dallas closed out January with a 1-5-1 record. So far, February is looking better as the Stars have won two of their last three games heading into Wednesday's contest in Edmonton.

Dallas split a home-and-home weekend series with the Coyotes before descending on Colorado as part of an important stretch in which the Stars play six of seven games on the road. Against the Avalanche on Monday, Benn finally had the breakout game the Stars were looking forward to when they signed the 23-year-old forward to a five-year contract on Jan. 24.

Benn earned his first goal of the season to open the scoring just 2:21 into the contest and added to his point total almost nine minutes later when he and Jagr set up Brenden Morrow to give Dallas an early 2-0 lead.

Milan Hejduk, playing in his 1,000th NHL game, halved that lead with just 1:48 remaining in the opening period. From there Colorado stormed back in the second, outshooting Dallas 11-3 in the period and getting a tying goal on the power play from PA Parenteau. But Benn wasn't done yet, scoring another goal late in the second period to give the Stars a 3-2 lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Oilers: Though they've lost their last three games, the Oilers have shown a competitive streak that was mostly absent the last three seasons, during which they posted the League's worst combined record. But Edmonton showed some bite on Thursday when it pushed then-undefeated San Jose to the limit in a 3-2 shootout loss.

Following a 3-1 loss in Colorado on Saturday, Edmonton hosted Vancouver on Monday night. Against a Canucks team that won five of six matchups last season, Edmonton came out flying. Ryan Smyth's shorthanded goal in the second period gave the Oilers a surprising 2-0 lead. But it wouldn't last.

After Jannik Hansen scored his first of the season 12:41 into the second period, Kevin Bieksa's point shot beat Devan Dubnyk with 2:17 remaining in regulation. There would be more heartbreak in Edmonton, as Christopher Tanev scored his first NHL goal with 20 seconds remaining in overtime to give Vancouver the win.

"It's frustrating, obviously," said Dubnyk, who made 37 saves in the game. "They tied the game with two minutes left. No one wants to let that happen."

Who's hot: Dallas' best player lately may be goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who has won his last two starts, stopping 60 of 65 shots. … For Edmonton, Nail Yakupov has three goals and five points during his current five-game points streak. Sam Gagner leads the club with 10 points and has at least one point in every game this season.

Injury report: Dallas is missing Ray Whitney, who is out a month with a broken foot. … The Oilers' infirmary added Shawn Horcoff this week. He's out long-term with a broken knuckle, making him the latest addition to an injured list that includes Eric Belanger (foot), Andy Sutton (knee), Ryan Jones (eye), Ben Eager (concussion) and Theo Peckham (hip).

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