The Dallas Stars know that to secure another Pacific Division title, they'll need to keep beating clubs fighting to reach the postseason. That would certainly describe the Edmonton Oilers.
Dallas looks for its sixth straight win over Edmonton as the teams wrap up their regular-season series on Friday night at American Airlines Arena.
Coming into this game, the Stars (37-22-5) have a four-point lead over Anaheim, which faces St. Louis later on Friday. Dallas has won the Pacific in three of the last five seasons, but also hasn't advanced past the first round since 2002-03.
Dallas center Steve Ott told the Stars' official Web site that they cannot afford to relax against any opponent. That includes the Oilers (27-29-5), who have only 59 points and the second-worst record in the Western Conference.
"They're another desperate team," he said. "I think every team we're going to be facing the rest of the way is going to be desperate to get in the playoffs, and for us, we have to play that way. We have to play our game and bury the bottom-tier teams."
|The Stars hope to continue flattening the competition as they go for their sixth straight win over the Oilers when the two teams wrap up their season series at Dallas tonight. (AP Photo/ The Canadian Press, Jimmy Jeong)
Dallas, though, is coming off just its second loss in 11 games, 3-2 to Calgary on Wednesday. Marty Turco allowed the Flames' Jarome Iginla to score the go-ahead goal with just 2:27 to play and finished with 15 saves.
"We just made some crucial errors at bad times and didn't create enough chances," Stars coach Dave Tippett said.
Turco needs just four wins to reach 30 for the fifth straight season and also will be looking to extend his winning streak over Edmonton. Since a 2-0 loss at home to the Oilers on Dec. 8, 2006, Turco has allowed just nine goals in five wins against them.
He also hasn't dropped consecutive starts since Jan. 12-15. Following those losses, Turco is 9-3-0 with a 1.92 goals-against average and one shutout.
Edmonton will wrap up a four-game road trip trying to avoid its third consecutive loss. The Oilers scored three goals in a 2:18 span late in the second period on Tuesday to take a 4-3 lead, but fell 5-4 to Nashville.
"I think the past couple of games, we have battled pretty hard," Edmonton's Robert Nilsson said. "We just need to find ways to win games. We scored four goals. And when we score four goals, we should win."
The loss was Edmonton's first in regulation (14-1-3) when scoring at least four goals.
With season-ending injuries to leading goal scorer Shawn Horcoff and offensive-minded defenseman Sheldon Souray, rookie Sam Gagner continues to be a bright spot for Edmonton. The 18-year-old center, picked sixth overall in last season's NHL draft, has two goals and eight assists in a seven-game points streak. Prior to that run, Gagner had only four goals and 17 assists in 51 games.
He has one goal in three games when facing Dallas.
If Dwayne Roloson gets the start for Craig MacTavish's team in this game, he will have to forget a poor outing the last time he was in Dallas. Roloson allowed three goals in the first 9:06 of a 5-4 overtime loss on Dec. 10. Roloson is 0-2-2 with a 3.51 GAA in his last five starts versus the Stars.
Mathieu Garon has fared worse against Dallas recently, going 0-3-1 with a 3.35 GAA in his last four games, including three starts.