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Stars look to end losing streak vs. Oilers

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- Exactly two weeks into 2014 the Dallas Stars still are after their first win of the year. A 4-2 loss to the New York Islanders on Sunday extended the Stars' losing streak to six games, the franchise's longest since the 1995-96 season.

The Stars have not lost seven straight in regulation since the club's 1993 move to Dallas. It last happened in the 1989-90 season when the Minnesota North Stars were winless between Nov. 30 and Dec. 12, 1989, a stretch where they were outscored 30-11.

However, Stars captain Jamie Benn said he isn't too concerned with where this current streak falls in club history. Instead, he's focused on ending it Tuesday against the Edmonton Oilers at American Airlines Center.

"Losing's never fun," Benn said. "You've got to play a full 60 minutes in this League to get a victory. We've got to find a way to get the job done [Tuesday]."

One way Dallas can start to right the ship is by being more effective on the power play. The Stars currently have the worst home power play in the League, converting 7.5 percent of their opportunities (6-for-80).

"When you struggle you've got to go with a shoot-first mentality," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "Even when we got to the [offensive] zone [against the Islanders] and walked to the top of the circle and we had a wide-open shot we decided to pass it. And my blood pressure went up a little bit."

After morning skate Ruff admitted he's even contemplated breaking up the top-line combination of Benn and Tyler Seguin, a tandem that has combined for one goal in the past five games.

"Getting close to that and I think that they had six chances, that line, the other night," Ruff said. "[Erik] Cole was in on a couple of beauties and Tyler had two and Benn had two. If the chances were down you would probably go to that [Tuesday]. Maybe one area they need to clean up is they had a few turnovers when they hit the opposition line that prevented them from creating some other opportunities."

Ruff will employ the same line combinations and defensive pairings from Sunday and Kari Lehtonen will start in goal.

Oilers center Sam Gagner and left wing Taylor Hall did not practice Monday due to maintenance days. Gagner skated Tuesday at the morning skate while Hall did not in a workout that was termed optional.

Hall, who is battling a shoulder issue, will play against the Stars and likely will line up alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Gagner.

"It's just something that's bugging me a little bit and you want to take care of with some rest and some rehab," Hall said. I'll be fine to go [Tuesday]."

Ilya Bryzgalov will start in net for the Oilers, who hope to add to Dallas' current misery and beat the Stars for the second time this season. Edmonton won 3-2 in a shootout on Dec. 1 in Dallas.

"I know Dallas is going to be desperate. They haven't won and they're at home. They're certainly going to be prepared," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "I think the main thing is to try to inflict some of the pain that we get. If we can score first on them that immediately sends the message down the bench of, 'Oh no, here we go again,' and I would like them to be feeling that because we've certainly felt it enough this year."

Here are the projected lineups for the Oilers and Stars:


Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Sam Gagner

Nail Yakupov - Mark Arcobello - Jordan Eberle

David Perron - Boyd Gordon - Ales Hemsky

Luke Gazdic - Ryan Smyth - Ryan Jones

Andrew Ference - Justin Schultz

Nick Schultz - Anton Belov

Jeff Petry - Martin Marincin

Ilya Bryzgalov

Devan Dubnyk

Scratched: Jesse Joensuu

Injured: Philip Larsen (Illness), Corey Potter (groin)


Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Erik Cole

Antoine Roussel - Cody Eakin - Ryan Garbutt

Shawn Horcoff - Rich Peverley - Valeri Nichushkin

Ray Whitney - Vernon Fiddler - Alex Chiasson

Alex Goligoski - Trevor Daley

Brenden Dillon - Jordie Benn

Kevin Connauton - Sergei Gonchar

Dan Ellis

Kari Lehtonen

Scratched: Dustin Jeffrey

Injured: Stephane Robidas (leg), Aaron Rome (lower body)

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