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Stars continue battle to the end by hosting Oilers

by John Kreiser
OILERS (24-45-7) at STARS (34-29-14)

Last 10: Edmonton 3-5-2; Dallas 5-4-1

Season series: Though the Oilers are ticketed for a last-place finish, they've won two of three from the Stars, both in shootouts -- 5-4 on Oct. 6 and 3-2 in their last visit to American Airlines Center on Dec. 5. The Stars won 4-3 on Jan. 22 at Edmonton in the only game that was decided in regulation.

Big story: The Oilers are playing for next season -- they're already assured of finishing last in the overall standings, meaning they will draft no lower than second. The Stars' playoff hopes are still flickering -- with 82 points, they're seven behind eighth-place Colorado with just five games to play. But Dallas isn't giving up, as it showed on Wednesday in a 5-1 thumping of conference-leading San Jose.

Team Scope:

Oilers: The Oilers are on the way to the worst season in franchise history, but they haven't quit. Edmonton trailed 4-0 at Detroit on Tuesday before rallying for four goals to tie the game -- only to lose with 67 seconds left on a deflection by Wings defenseman Brad Stuart that was ruled to be below the crossbar -- just barely.

"We generated some offense after we fell behind by three goals," said center Mike Comrie, who had a goal during the comeback. "It wasn't the start we wanted. But you gotta keep playing hard. We stuck with it."

But in the end, it was just another road loss for the Oilers -- their League-high 25th in regulation, against only eight wins.

Stars: Though their playoff hopes are almost gone, the Stars aren't waving the white flag just yet -- as they showed in their resounding victory over the Sharks. They may be running out of time, but not out of pride.

"We've got a lot of pride in this dressing room," said forward Steve Ott, who had his first NHL hat trick against the Sharks. "We might not make the playoffs, or it's pretty unrealistic right now, but to finish with character and finish with pride, I think means more than anything."

Who's hot:
Edmonton defenseman Tom Gilbert is coming off a two-goal night in Detroit. Andrew Cogliano has 10 points in 10 games, including a pair of assists against the Wings. … Ott, who scored at even strength, on the power play and shorthanded, has matched his career high with 19 goals. He also had 19 last season. Loui Eriksson, who leads Dallas with 29 goals after scoring the winner against the Sharks, has 10 points in his last nine games.

Injury report: The Oilers have seven players gone for the season, but could get forward Ryan Jones (right knee) back for this game. Sam Gagner is also day-to-day with a hip injury. … Dallas’ Mike Modano hopes to return after undergoing an appendectomy on March 16.

Stat pack:
The Stars were among the NHL's best shootout teams -- until this season. Dallas leads the League with 10 shootout losses, and Marty Turco is 0-5 in shootouts at home. … Edmonton goaltender Jeff Deslauriers has lost 13 of his last 14 starts away from Rexall Place.

Puck drop: There may not be much at skate for either team, but that won't matter to 27-year-old Charlie Linglet, a seven-year minor-league vet who was called up from AHL Springfield by the Oilers and is expected to make his NHL debut on Friday.

"Those are the good stories, about a guy that's been grinding it out (in the AHL) and has continued to improve and has got a lot of points on a not very good hockey team in Springfield," coach Pat Quinn said. "Here's a young man that has certainly put some numbers on the board, enough that when we were talking about where our future is, he's one of the guys they want to look at at this level."

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