The Oilers host the Nashville Predators on Saturday at 8 p.m. MT. You can watch the game on CBC and/or Sportsnet or listen on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.
DALLAS, TX — Teddy Purcell and Nail Yakupov lit the lamp, but two goals were not enough for the Oilers on Thursday as they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Dallas Stars.
The loss concluded the team’s three-game road trip that also saw them beat the Florida Panthers 4-2 on Monday and lose 6-4 to the Tampa Bay Lightning the following night, putting their record at 19-25-5.
It was another tight defeat for the Oilers, who have just one win in their 11 games this season that have been decided in regulation by a single goal.
“Both teams had a lot of looks,” Purcell said. “We got better as the game went on, and that’s a positive, but at the end of the day it seems like we’re on the wrong side of those (close games) more so than the good side.”
The lone goal of the opening frame belonged to the Stars, and they got it just 83 seconds after puck drop. Jason Spezza got the puck in the slot, deked to his backhand and flicked a shot past Cam Talbot for his 16th of the season.
Purcell had the best scoring chance for the Oilers in the first period, as Taylor Hall sauced him a pass on the doorstep, but he slightly misfired and couldn’t lift it over Antti Niemi.
Jyrki Jokipakka appeared to give the Stars a two-goal cushion early in the middle frame, as he skated over the blueline and fired a shot top shelf off the iron and in. However, the Oilers used a successful coach’s challenge to negate the tally, as Ales Hemsky was just offside on the scoring play.
Jamie Benn made sure there was no doubt about his goal, though, putting a wrist shot from the high slot into the top corner through a crowd in front of Talbot at 13:16 to make it 2-0. Benn is third in goals in the NHL with 27.
The Oilers finally solved Niemi at the 17:04 mark of the second period courtesy a power-play goal from Purcell. The winger got the puck at the top of the left-wing circle, skated into the high slot and beat Niemi high with a wrist shot that deflected off a stick on its way.
The PPG was Purcell’s 11th tally of the season, tying him with Leon Draisaitl for second on the team. Taylor Hall picked up an assist for his team-leading 47th point, while Justin Schultz secured his ninth point with the other helper.
After getting his goal called back earlier in the frame, Jokipakka scored a legit one for the Stars just 15 seconds after Purcell’s goal to reestablish the home team’s two-goal lead. Jokipakka put a shot on net from the point that deflected off Benoit Pouliot’s stick, causing Talbot to miss the save.
Yakupov cut the Stars lead to 3-2 with 3:03 to go in the third period, taking a pass from Pouliot and sneaking a bad-angle shot through Niemi’s pads for his fourth goal of the season. Edmonton pulled the goalie in an attempt to tie it up, but Dallas shut the door to secure the win.
“It was a little bit of a slow start, and then we picked up our game and worked pretty hard,” Yakupov said. “We got a lot of chances at their net… We had really good opportunities to score goals at the end, but it was just kind of bad luck.”
“I thought we created enough chances and attempts at the net to have an opportunity to win,” echoed Head Coach Todd McLellan. “Those moral victories don’t put points in the bank, so I’m disappointed in that, but the effort at the back end of a road trip, a long couple weeks, was real strong, and I’m happy for that.”
Talbot finished the game with 32 saves as the Stars outshot the Oilers 35-25.
“That’s a good team over there,” Jordan Eberle said of Dallas, now 30-13-5 on the season. “I thought we played a good game. We had our chances to score… We made it interesting at the end there with Yak’s shot, but it’s just one of those games where when you get your chances, you’ve got to be able to bear down and score, because they’re going to get theirs.”
Not only did the Oil lose the game, they also suffered another injury as defenceman Brandon Davidson left the game in the second period. The Oilers already lead the NHL in man games lost due to injuries.
“Guys are resilient and they're stepping up, taking on bigger roles,” Purcell said of his walking wounded squad. “We’re working our tails off and trying to do the right thing, but it’s really tough when you see a lot of key guys go down so much.”
Coach McLellan said Davidson “took a hit to an area that was pretty tender” and will miss at least one game.
The Oilers head back home for that last game prior to the NHL all-star break, hosting the Nashville Predators Saturday night at Rexall Place. The Oil and Preds haven’t played since the first week of the season, as Nashville got 31 saves from Pekka Rinne in a 2-0 home shutout on Oct. 10.
“We’ve got one more tough game left here, and then we can rest and try to find a way to get healthy,” McLellan said.