DALLAS, TX - The Edmonton Oilers continue their four-game road trip tonight against the Dallas Stars, a team that has not won in the calendar year of 2014 as of yet with six straight regulation losses.
In his media availability after the morning skate, Eakins urged that the team should not take Stars lightly as he expects them to give a very good performance tonight.
“I know Dallas is going to be desperate. They haven’t won and they’re at home. They’re certainly going to be prepared,” Eakins began. “I think the main thing is to try and inflict some of the pain that we get some nights where you haven’t won a number of games in a row and the game plan has to be to score first.
“If we can score first on them, it immediately sends a message down their bench of ‘oh no, here we go again.’ I would like them to be feeling that because we’ve certainly felt it enough this year.”
The Stars have had the lead in four of the six games they ended up losing in this current stretch.
“It will be important for us to come out, have a good first period and then not leave it in the first period. (We need to) keep bringing it through the second and third. That’s one thing that we’ve had a bit of a stutter step on lately is that second period.”
Ilya Bryzgalov will be getting the start in goal tonight for the Oilers but other than that, the team will go with the same lines that they had against Pittsburgh and to start the Blackhawks game.
“I’m going to go back to those lines we had against the Penguins,” said Eakins. “I thought they were effective. Last game I threw a whole bunch of different combinations, especially in that second period, to just try and find something to jumpstart someone. We couldn’t get it going. I think it’s important to go back.”
The lines were:
Hall - RNH - Gagner Yakupov - Arcobello - Eberle Perron - Gordon - Hemsky Gazdic - Smyth - Jones
“As always, if it’s not working, I won’t hesitate to change things,” Eakins continued.
HALL WILL PLAY
Taylor Hall did not skate yesterday and did not take the morning skate today but he will be fine to play at game time tonight.
“It’s just something that’s been bugging me a little bit and you want to take care of with some rest and rehab. I’ll be fine to go tonight,” Hall stated.
The left winger added that he expects no complications, despite Dallas being a big and physical squad.
“This is a physical team that we’re playing against, especially at home. I think you can always expect that with them. But as far as being afraid of injuring it, I’m not afraid. I’m ready to go and it should be a fun night.”
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
NHL.COM GAME PREVIEW
OILERS (15-28-5) at STARS (20-18-7)
TV: SNET-W, FS-CR
Last 10: Edmonton 4-4-2; Dallas 3-6-1
Season series: The Dallas Stars earned a 3-0 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Nov. 13; Kari Lehtonen had a shutout with 22 saves. The teams also met Dec. 1 with Edmonton winning, 3-2, in a shootout.
Big story: Each team looks to end lengthy slumps. The Oilers have lost six of eight games; the Stars have dropped six in a row, all in regulation.
Oilers: After a 1-1 tie through 20 minutes against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday, the Oilers were outshot 30-14 and outscored 4-2 in a 5-3 loss.
"It wasn't our best effort. For the most part, it wasn't an effort like the other night against Pittsburgh," Taylor Hall said, referring to a 4-3 overtime victory Friday.
The Oilers continue a four-game road trip in Dallas before stops in Minnesota and Winnipeg. Their seven road wins are the fewest in the Western Conference, and they currently rank last in the league giving up 3.48 goals per game, including three or more in each of their past eight games.
"We came out watching [the Blackhawks] play in the second. Especially against the good teams, we can't watch them play," coach Dallas Eakins said after the game.
Stars: Dallas has lost a season-high six games in a row following a 4-2 home loss to the Islanders on Sunday. They have not lost seven games in a row in almost five years (March 2009).
Their two leading scorers have been struggling. Tyler Seguin, who leads the team with 21 goals has two points in six games. Captain Jamie Benn (15 goals) has one in five games.
"It's been a little bit of time. They had a couple of good looks, but the majority was the other lines tonight. I think when you start to press, you turn some pucks over. We did that, and that hurt them even more," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said Sunday.
Dallas is the only team that does not have a win in 2014.
Who's hot: Taylor Hall has three goals in four games. Sam Gagner has four assists in three games for Edmonton. … Despite one goal in five games, Jamie Benn has six goals in 12 games for Dallas.