EDMONTON, AB - After wrapping up a five-game road trip on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, in which they went 2-2-1, the Oilers have returned home for the first of a two-game homestand to face the Dallas Stars.
"I think we're playing good," said Oilers forward Tyler Pitlick. "I think we felt like we could have gotten a few more points on that trip, but it was a good road trip overall. We played well, I think we're doing a lot of things right and I think we're pretty happy with the way the season's gone so far."
After closing out their road trip with a heartbreaking, hard-fought 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Oilers look to regain their winning momentum at home.
"It was tough, but I don't know if there's too many tweaks you make," said Pitlick. "I think we played a good game, there was [just] a couple bad bounces that ended up going in. There's definitely, obviously, a few things you can clean up but you just keep going and not worry about it."
"This is our place and we want to come out really hot here," said Oilers defenceman Oscar Klefbom. "I think we've been playing some really good hockey in here, so we want to keep doing that for sure."
This will be the first of three games between the two teams this season and the fourth of a five-game road trip for the Stars. They are 1-2-0 in the first three games. Last season, the Oilers were 1-2-0 against the Stars.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Edmonton, who is 4-2-0 at home, will face a struggling Dallas team that is currently 2-4-2 on the road.
With Dallas coming off their worst loss of the season, downed 8-2 by the Jets in Winnipeg, the Stars managed to turn things around on Thursday in Calgary, overcoming the Flames in a 4-2 decision.
Dallas forward Jamie Benn snapped a nine-game scoring drought, supplying two goals towards the victory, including the game-winner, helping break the team's five-game winless streak.
"We know they played last night in Calgary. They're a team that's desperate right now and I think [it's important] for us to come out of the gates and jump on them quick and play our game," said Oilers winger Patrick Maroon.
"A lot of times when it's not going your way the best play is the easy play, to keep it easy," said Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl. "I think we have to make sure we do that tonight."
The Oilers, who closed out their last home game with a 2-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators, look to re-establish their win streak at Rogers Place tonight, regardless of the inclination that sometimes it can be challenging for teams to recharge and start strong at home after a road trip.
"It's an age-old question that's been asked to many, many coaches," said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. "There is a tendency for that. We're not going to talk about it, we're not even going to acknowledge it. We're going to try and come and play our game.
"We had some success playing back-to-back last week. We know that teams can dial it in and play a good road game too to have success, so there's risks from both sides, but we will prepare our team like we always do, we'll expect them to come and give each other an honest effort and that's part of the growth of a team."
Regardless of their records, it's been a tough go for both NHL teams regarding the health of a number of their players.
Stars forward Jason Spezza, who missed his third-straight game with a lower-body injury, is listed as day-to-day with the team. Patrick Sharp, who sustained a concussion in mid-October against the Los Angeles Kings, joined the team on the road trip and might be able to play Sunday, while Cody Eakin is skating and closing in on a return to play.
Last season, injured Stars players Spezza, Sharp, Eakin, and Mattias Janmark and Hemsky combined for 97-124-221 season for the Stars.
"We know they played last night in Calgary, they're a team that's desperate right now," said Maroon. "I think for us, we need to come out of the gates and jump on them quick and just play our game."
Of the six-men that are currently on Edmonton's IR, the Oilers welcomed back Matt Hendricks that has been on the injury roster since sustaining an ailment to his lower body in a pre-season game. He joined Edmonton's morning skate after participating in the team's practice yesterday.
"Skating in a pre-game skate is one thing," said McLellan. "Battling, competing and doing the things you need to do in practice before you get to the game, that's the next step."
Regardless of the number of men that are down on the visiting team, Pitlick said it's not even a factor that should be considered when they step onto the ice tonight.
"[We can't] worry about that stuff," he said. "They're a good team and they've got a lot of skill and we've just got to focus on what we do. Get out there, play hard, do the simple things right and let the rest of the offence take care of itself."
This is the first of three meetings this season between the Stars and Oilers. The next time these teams will meet is on November 19th in Dallas.
The last time the Oilers and Stars met was on January 21st in Dallas, where the Stars defeated the Oilers 3-2. Cam Talbot stopped 32 of the 35 shots he faced in the loss.
Oilers team scope:
The Oilers are coming off a .500 five-game road trip that saw them win twice, lose twice in regulation and lose once in overtime. Edmonton is 3-6-1 in its last 10 games against Dallas but they are 2-2-1 in their last five.
Forward Jordan Eberle is the only Oiler and one of only 16 NHL players who has registered at least one shot on net in all 14 games he has played so far. Eberle leads the team with 44 shots on net. Eberle has 11 points (5G, 6A) and ranks second in team scoring on the Oilers.
In four career games against Dallas, defenceman Adam Larsson has three assists. ... Forward Milan Lucic has eight career points (5G, 3A) in 12 games against Dallas. ... Forward Connor McDavid scored his first career NHL goal in Dallas against the Stars, on Oct. 13, 2015 in a 4-2 loss for the Oilers. McDavid's goal came at 12:18 of the second period, against Kari Lehtonen.
Stars team scope:
Dallas is coming off a 4-2 win in Calgary on Thursday night. It was a much-needed win for the Stars, who had only won one of their previous seven games and were coming off an 8-2 thrashing in Winnipeg this past Tuesday.
Forward Jason Spezza led the Stars with four goals and five points in three games against the Oilers last season. The forward has tallied eight points in his last seven games against Edmonton and has 14 points over his last 11.
Netminder Antti Niemi logged a 1-0-1 record with a 1.99 GAA and a .918 SV% in two appearances against the Oilers last season. Niemi owns a 12-1-3 record with a 2.39 GAA and a .909 SV% in 16 career appearances against Edmonton. Niemi comes into tonight's game having earned a point in each of his last seven appearances against the Oilers, posting a 5-0-2 record with a 2.54 GAA and a .911 SV% over that span. Kari Lehtonen played on Thursday in Calgary so it's likely Niemi gets the nod tonight.
Former Oilers winger Lauri Korpikoski had a goal on Thursday in Calgary. He now has two goals and two assists on the season in 14 games.