Mikko Koskinen makes 34 saves as the Oilers snap a four-game losing skid with a 2-1 victory in the Lone Star State
DALLAS, TX - Infractions and saves were rampant in the Lone Star State on Monday.
Time to call the Sheriff.
Mikko Koskinen made 34 saves on 35 shots, having his shutout spoiled by Tyler Seguin with the net empty for the Dallas Stars, in a 2-1 victory for the Oilers on Monday at the American Airlines Center that saw both clubs combined for nine penalties.
The Oilers snap a four-game losing skid with the win after taking a two-goal lead into the first intermission, having had to battle back after 20 minutes in all four of their previous contests that ended in defeat.
"We showed up to play in the first period," Alex Chiasson, who tallied an assist, said. "That was much needed for our group. It's a good rebound from the last couple of games here."
Zack Kassian opened the scoring at even strength to make it a dozen goals on the year, accepting Connor McDavid's feed and sliding it past an outstretched Ben Bishop with 12:53 left in the first frame.
Head Coach Dave Tippett spread his centre talent throughout the lineup, as McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins were charged with the task of managing their own wingers for a clash with the Stars
But the league's best power play for the Oilers is always a chance to reunite the Dynamic Duo.
The pair connected with Chiasson, who delivered the no-look backwards pass to Draisaitl for his team-leading 21st goal of the season and a two-goal lead at the intermission for the Oilers after hometown blueliner Caleb Jones drew the infraction.
The power play connected once on six opportunities, with Koskinen and the Oilers penalty kill combining for a perfect 3-for-3 night.
"We did a lot of things that are what we'd like our identity to be," Tippett said. "A real team effort not just waiting for a couple of guys to score. It was right through the group."
"Everyone pulled their load and Koskinen was good in goal. That's going to be the formula we need to use if we want to be successful."
Even with the Oilers having confidence in their ability to battle back in games, they know they're better with a lead - boasting a 15-4-1 record in games where they notch the first goal.
"I think it's huge for every team in this league," Koskinen said of a good start. "When you give up two or three goals in the first period, you're chasing the game and it's tough.
"You could see today - we scored the first two and it was pretty tough for Dallas."
A contest marred with infractions meant a busy night for both netminders, with Koskinen making one of his biggest contributions in the form of two back-to-back saves on a Stars man advantage in the second period's opening minutes.
Seguin roofed the 2-1 goal with the Dallas net empty and 2:37 remaining to set the stage for a nervy final few moments. Koskinen slumped over in deserved exhaustion at the final buzzer, securing his 12th win of the season and improving to 12-5-2 with the help of stalwart defence in front of him.
"It was awesome," Koskinen said of his team's contributions on the defensive side of the puck. "We played a really tight game and everyone really wanted to play defence first, then worry about the offence."
Despite Oscar Klefbom being kept off the scoresheet, the Swedish blueliner logged more than half the game with an impressive 30:32 of ice time - including 7:14 of that on the power play.
"It was a solid effort from the first minute to the last," Klefbom said. "We need out goalies to play well and our team to play the right way. Tonight I really think we played the right way, so we take two points and feel really good about this win."
It was a composed road performance for the Oilers, who improve to 11-7-1 away from Rogers Place after allowing themselves room to work with a two-goal lead after 20 minutes.
"It kind of feels like we're playing the game the right way," Chiasson said of the team's road strength. "We respect our opponent, we play a solid 60 minutes, and it's been good for us."
The Oilers will be back in action Wednesday against the St. Louis Blues in the second game of their two-game road trip.
"Hopefully we can start a winning streak here," Klefbom said.