DALLAS, TX -
On the strength of three first period goals by the host team, the Edmonton Oilers dropped a 5-2 decision to the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center on Tuesday night.
It didn't take Dallas long to get on the board. 14 seconds into the game, Erik Cole took a feed from the slot by Trevor Daley and deposited the puck into the wide open net with Oilers starting goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov out of position.
"The first goal was a broken play and [Nugent-Hopkins] ends up falling down. I don’t think it was a case where we weren’t ready to play. I thought we were. Going through the game in my head, it seemed like we made three mistakes and they all ended up in our net," said Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins. "And it goes back to what we’ve been saying a lot this year. You never know when the game’s on the line. It’s on the line every shift, and you can never-ever back off somebody and let your mind wander, whatever it’s going to be. The games on the line every shift. I thought we played a pretty good road game, overall. But those three mistakes ended up in our net and we couldn’t recover.”
A couple minutes later Dallas nearly gained a two-goal lead when a shot from the left circle snuck between the legs of Bryzgalov but Jeff Petry was able to retrieve the puck right on the goal line. Moments later, Ryan Jones dropped the gloves with Brenden Dillon. The fists flew furiously in the fight but neither combatant could claim an edge.
40 seconds later, the Oilers tied the game up. Justin Schultz picked up a feed from Taylor Hall while driving towards the net. Schultz made a great move before backhanding it past Lehtonen for the goal and a 1-1 tie.
Five minutes after the Oilers tied the game, Dallas moved back in front. Ray Whitney carried the puck behind the net and wrapped it around through the Oilers crease. Ryan Garbutt was stationed in the crease and jammed the puck in with his stick.
Just before the midway point of the opening frame, Sam Gagner got two minutes for interference, sending Dallas on the game's first power play.
37 seconds into the man advantage, Jamie Benn wired a shot from the left circle past Bryzgalov to make it a two-goal game at 3-1.
Shots on goal after one period were 12-10 for Dallas.
Dallas extended its lead to 4-1 1:10 into the middle frame after Cody Eakin redirected a cross-crease pass into the net.
"We didn't play terrible, just a few lapses in our defensive zone," said Justin Schultz. "When you give a team a three-goal lead in this league, it's pretty hard to come back even though we played so well in the last 30 minutes. We've got to find a way to start better, get the lead and protect it for the full game."
Coach Eakins agreed with the defenceman.
“We recovered and throughout the rest of the game I thought we were fine, other than a couple of mistakes. Dallas made some mistakes too, but we couldn’t bury the puck when they made them and that’s the disheartening part of it. When you think you’ve played a pretty good game and you come up short.”
Edmonton's first power play of the game came 3:32 into the second period. Erik Cole knocked down Ales Hemsky and received two minutes for tripping. Nugent-Hopkins rang a shot off the crossbar during the man advantage but that was as close as Edmonton would get to scoring on that power play.
Just before the midway point of period three, Benn ran some interference on Arcobello, receiving two minutes for his efforts and the Oilers returned to the power play. A minute into that man advantage, Gagner poked in a rebound for a power play marker as Oilers swarmed around the Dallas goal.
"We had our opportunities. We had a lot in the last 30 minutes but we didn't capitalize. It's the same old story. We played well enough to win, but we didn't, so it's disappointing," Schultz stated.
The Oilers outshot Dallas 15-9 in the second period and overall in the game 25-21.
Oilers did some line juggling in the third period as Ales Hemsky didn't come out after taking a shot awkwardly late in the second. Eakins put Yakupov with Smyth and Gordon and moved David Perron up to the second line with Mark Arcobello and Jordan Eberle. Jones was subbed in on the Yakupov-Smyth line also with Gazdic, Smyth, Jones taking the odd shift.
Trevor Daley added an empty netter to clinch the outcome.