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Stars begin Canada road trip against Oilers

by Brian Hunter /

STARS (31-19-6) at OILERS (16-32-8)


Last 10:
Dallas 3-6-1; Edmonton 2-7-1

Season series: Fourth and final meeting of the season between these teams. Dallas is aiming for the series sweep after winning three times in the span of 16 days over Edmonton during the month of January. Brenden Morrow leads all scorers with 3 goals while Kari Lehtonen has allowed only five goals in three starts.

Big story: If the Stars don't start to turn things around during a three-game road trip through western Canada, they may find themselves plummeting from a top-three seed in the Western Conference to below the postseason cutoff by the time they return home for a Feb. 22 game against the Devils. Dallas is 1-4-1 since the All-Star break, and the rest of the Pacific Division has spent that time making up ground.

Team Scope:

Stars: It's hardly out of the question that the last-place team in the Pacific could still end up making the playoffs, but after leading the division for much of the season Dallas really doesn't want to find out. The Stars got a disappointing result Sunday afternoon against the visiting Blue Jackets, as Brad Richards' power-play goal started the scoring 4:36 into the first period, but the lead lasted all of 46 seconds in what became a 2-1 defeat.

"We're doing some things that just don't work," Richards said. "We're not quite on the same page for whatever reason. There's little things and stuff that we haven't been doing all year."

Oilers: This begins the second half of a six-game homestand that has yet to produce a point in the standings for Edmonton. In fact, the young Oilers have dropped their last seven at Rexall Place, including Sunday night's 4-0 loss to the Ducks, who in the process tied the Stars in the Pacific standings. The Oilers managed just 12 shots on Jonas Hiller, which rookie Taylor Hall admitted wasn't getting the job done.

"I just think we have to challenge ourselves to be a lot better," he said. "I truly believe everyone in this room cares and everyone is giving it their all, but at some point it has to turn into results."

Who's hot: Richards has goals in three straight games for the Stars. He has 7 goals and 14 assists over his last 17 games.

Injury report: Dallas defenseman Nicklas Grossman left Sunday's game with a lower-body injury and is day-to-day along with fellow blueliner Matt Niskanen (hand). Forward Raymond Sawada (shoulder/nose) is out indefinitely. Forwards Toby Petersen (lower body), Jamie Benn (shoulder), Krystofer Barch (orbital bone) and Adam Burish (orbital bone) are on injured reserve.

Edmonton forward Shawn Horcoff is day-to-day with bronchitis. Defenseman Ryan Whitney (ankle) and forward Gilbert Brule (ankle/illness) are on injured reserve.

Stat pack: This will be the Stars' second attempt at winning their 700th game since relocating from Minnesota to Dallas prior to the 1993-94 season. ... The Oilers need to get their struggling power play going -- they've come up empty on their last 24 attempts as part of a 3-for-82 skid over the last 23 games.

Puck drop: There's a difference between losing a game when you played well enough to win and what happened to Edmonton on Sunday, and that wasn't lost on the 19-year-old Hall.

"Up until about three games ago, we had been playing very well and just not getting results," he said. "Now, we're kind of getting what we deserve. It's all up to us. We know that we have it in here. We know we can improve."

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