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PRE-GAME REPORT: Oilers vs. Stars

The Oilers end a brief two-game Rogers Place stint with an afternoon tilt against the Dallas Stars on Saturday

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

The Oilers end a two-game Rogers Place stint with an afternoon tilt against the Dallas Stars on Saturday.

You can watch the game on Sportsnet West or listen on the Oilers Radio Network, including 630 CHED.

Video: OILERS TODAY | Pre-Game vs DAL 11.15.19

INSIDE THE OILERS

News and notes from Friday's Oilers practice in our Inside The Oilers Blog, including reaction from Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl's amazing Thursday night.

>> READ MORE IN THE INSIDE THE OILERS BLOG

PRE-GAME REPORT

EDMONTON, AB - They rode the Avalanche with ease and now, they'll reach for the Stars. 

After suffering a 6-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, the Oilers got their bounce-back performance on Thursday by snow blowing the Colorado Avalanche away with a 6-2 win.

Winter is coming but Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl brought the heat with six and five points, respectively, as No. 97 tallied a hat trick plus three assists and No. 29 dished five helpers.

The Dynamic Duo combined for 11 points on the night and established career regular season game-high point totals in the victory, causing Oilers head Coach Dave Tippett to field questions of his two all-star forwards on Friday following team practice. 

Mainly, how they may differ in deployment from their teammates.

"Everybody's the same without the puck," said Tippett. "Without the puck, there's a way we have to play and with the puck, some players play a little different than others.

"It's the same without the puck but with the puck, obviously, they can do some special things."

Tippett gave his two leading scorers just over four minutes of ice in the final period on Thursday in a showing of good faith to the Hockey Gods.

"That's respect for the game," he said.

"I just believe in the Hockey Gods. You do that, ram them out there with three minutes to go in a 6-2 game, that comes back to bite you later. Both Connor and Leon understand that."

STARS ALIGNING

The Stars - who have a productive duo of their own in captain Jamie Benn and sniper Tyler Seguin - struggled with a 1-7-1 record in their opening nine games of the season.

But you wouldn't know that judging by their recent play. 

The club is on a two-game winning streak, doing the Oilers a favour by defeating the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks in consecutive games, and are 8-1-1 in their last 10 matches.

Players in the Oilers Dressing Room know just how well their upcoming opponent has been skating and are preparing for the challenge.

"They're an older team, veteran team that's been playing the right way," Zack Kassian said. "They kind of got their swagger back."

There's a budding belief among the Oilers that they can compete with any opponent in the League, given they come out ready to perform.

"Whenever you're playing good teams and teams that are hot, you want to go out and show that you can play with those teams," Kassian continued. 

"We feel that we're a good team in here if we play the right way... We're a very determined group."

Video: PRE-RAW | Kassian 11.15.19

LINEUP NOTES

Forward James Neal did not skate on Friday, being replaced by Markus Granlund on the second line. Coach Tippett believes Neal will be ready for Saturday.

Mikko Koskinen, who manned the twine in all three meetings against the Stars last season, is expected to get the start in goal. Despite going 1-1-1 against Dallas, he possessed a 1.61 goals-against average and .932 save percentage.

Expected lines for Saturday, which could change:

Draisaitl - McDavid - Kassian
Neal - Nugent-Hopkins - Archibald
Nygard - Haas - Chiasson
Khaira - Sheahan - P. Russell

Nurse - Bear
Klefbom - Jones
K. Russell - Benning

Koskinen
Smith

-- Paul Gazzola, EdmontonOilers.com

Video: PRE-RAW | Benning 11.15.19

PREVIEW

OILERS (13-6-2) vs STARS (10-8-2)

TV: 2:08 p.m. MT; Televised on Sportsnet West

Head-to-Head:

This is the first of three games between the Oilers and Stars in the 2019-20 campaign.

Last year, Edmonton went 1-1-1 against Dallas, with the lone victory coming in a 1-0 overtime decision. The winning goal was courtesy of Oscar Klefbom.

Draisaitl led the Oilers with one goal and three assists in three matches against the Stars, while Koskinen backstopped the club in all three, posting a 1.61 goals-against average and .932 save percentage.

For Dallas, Alexander Radulov, Jason Dickinson, Brett Ritchie, Mattias Janmark and Roope Hintz all had two points.

Oilers team scope:

Thursday night's affair versus Colorado was yet another spectacle from the Oilers Dynamic Duo of McDavid and Draisaitl, who established career regular-season game-highs in points with six and five, respectively.

Not to be forgotten were the performances of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - who notched two goals - and Kassian, who scored once and played physically fierce with a crushing hit on Avs star Nathan MacKinnon.

With the 6-2 victory, the Oilers returned to the win column and improved their record to 13-6-2. The squad is first in the Pacific Division with 28 points, four up on the Arizona Coyotes, who have 24.

Stars team scope:

The Stars began the '19-20 campaign with a poor 1-7-1 start but have since gone 9-1-1, with their most recent accomplishment being a 4-2 double up over the Vancouver Canucks.

It's been a complete turnaround for the club in their past 11 games, allowing just 17 goals against over that span.

Hintz leads the team in goals with nine, while Seguin is the leader in assists and points with nine and 13, respectively.

By the Numbers:

The Oilers are 13-6-2 in their first 21 games of the season. Last year, the club was 10-10-1 in their opening 21 outings. ... The club went 4-for-6 on the man advantage in their 6-2 win over Colorado and are 20-for-63 on the year, good for a 31.7 conversion rate and second-place rank in the League. ... The team is 9-3-0 when they score a power-play goal this year. ... Edmonton is 9-19-3 in their last 31 games against Dallas.

Over their first nine games in which they went 1-7-1, the Stars were averaging 1.89 goals per game and 3.22 goals against but in the last 11, they have scored an average of 3.00 goals a game and allowed 1.64 against. ... Dallas has tallied 50 goals on 594 shots, possessing an 8.4 shooting percentage, which is fifth-lowest in the League.

Injury Report:

OILERS - Adam Larsson (fractured right fibula) is on IR; Brandon Manning (hand) is on IR.

STARS - Andrew Cogliano (lower body) is day-to-day; Mattias Janmark (lower body) is day-to-day; John Klingberg (lower body) is on IR; Roope Hintz (lower body) is on IR; Stephen Johns (head) is on IR; Martin Hanzal (back) is on IR.

-- Paul Gazzola, EdmontonOilers.com

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