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Stars stun Oilers on late Neal goal

by Brian Hunter
Just when it looked like the Edmonton Oilers might put an end to their long, torturous losing streak, James Neal stuck another dagger in and took the air out of Rexall Place.

Neal scored with 22.2 seconds remaining Friday night and the Dallas Stars claimed a 4-3 victory over the Oilers that extended their skid to 10 straight games.

It was the first road win in regulation for the Stars since Nov. 18 in Detroit, and moved them into sole possession of 10th place in the Western Conference, three points out of the last playoff spot.

"It’s been a long time coming for our club on the road, winning games," said goalie Marty Turco, who stopped 35 shots. "There’s a lot of games we had chances to win, I thought we played pretty good, but we always had lapses in all those losses that somehow cost us."

Sam Gagner scored twice to rally the Oilers from a 3-1 deficit. His second of the game with 1:02 remaining went off the skate of the Stars’ Mike Modano and looked like it would send the teams into overtime and give Edmonton a shot at its first win since Dec. 30 against Toronto.

But the Oilers turned the puck over in their defensive zone, leading Neal to score his 20th of the season past a stunned Devan Dubnyk, who remained winless in eight career NHL games.

"I knew when we scored that goal late that we were going to win that hockey game. I mean, I knew it in my heart," Edmonton coach Pat Quinn said. "And unfortunately that didn’t grab my heart, it grabbed my guts."

Modano, Trevor Daley and Jamie Benn also scored for the Stars, and Steve Ott picked up a pair of assists.

"A huge, huge, timely goal by the (Brad) Richards line, with Nealer putting that in, and with Turco giving us that chance to win it definitely feels good," Ott said. "We don’t want to give points away in the Western Conference, but we found a way with 22 seconds left."

Ryan Potulny had a goal and an assist for the Oilers, who are just one point ahead of the Hurricanes for last overall in the League.

"They worked very hard to try to get a better result," Quinn said, "and that’s what makes this one so distasteful and so disappointing."

Daley opened the scoring six minutes into the game and Dallas had a great opportunity to double its lead when penalties to Shawn Horcoff and Fernando Pisani 41 seconds later led to a 5-on-3 advantage for a full two minutes. The Stars couldn’t capitalize, but did go ahead 2-0 on another power-play opportunity that Modano converted at the 12:33 mark.

It took all of 39 seconds for Potulny to answer on an Oilers power play, making it 2-1 after the first. Benn got the two-goal lead back for the Stars with 8:36 left in the second, scoring off a partial breakaway, but Gagner struck late in that period as well, beating Turco with 19 seconds remaining.

"Pretty happy getting a win finally, but there’s still a lot of work for our team to do, not only on the ice but off the ice, especially in the standings," Turco said. "That’s really what it boils down to, but hopefully we can use this as a springboard a little bit."

Material from broadcast media was used in this report.

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