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Under the Scope: Oilers at Stars

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers

With a disappointing loss to Vancouver well in the rearview mirror, Edmonton was looking to establish a more grounded effort in game two of this current five-game road trip. Such a response was seen, with the Oilers unleashing 41 shots on Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen. With a 2-0 disadvantage standing in the way of a successful third period, goals courtesy of J-F Jacques and Ryan Jones only 1:48 apart appeared to turn the game's tide in the visitors' direction.

The quick-strike offensive showcase carried over to the Stars as well, with James Neal knotting the game-winning goal shortly thereafter. Despite completing the night on the positive side of a 41-20 shot discrepancy, Edmonton exits American Airlines Center with a 3-2 loss Tuesday night.

The Oilers' opening goal of the evening came at 5:50 of the third period when Jacques' persistence paid off. A Ladislav Smid point shot was deflected en route, providing an opportunity to cash on the rebound. The physical forward continued to bang, and eventually potted the marker to bring the Oilers within one. Steve MacIntyre recorded his first point of the season on the play with the primary assist.

Nikolai Khabibulin didn't have the strongest of outings between the pipes, but 17 saves were made to provide his team with the opportunity to win. Khabibulin's personal record drops to 8-19-2, while the Oilers' overall team record falls to 13-21-7 on the season.

All you need to know and more as we go Under the Scope:

The Stars were in possession of a 2-0 advantage as the third period began, but the Oilers continued to pepper Kari Lehtonen as Edmonton looked to mount a comeback. At 5:50 of the third, hard work and persistence paid off as the Oilers got themselves back within one courtesy of J-F Jacques. His second goal of the 2010-11 season made it a 2-1 game and ignited a flurry of goal-scoring. Only 1:48 after getting on the board, Ryan Jones equalized the game for the visitors. Unfortunately, the Stars were also quick to respond as James Neal recorded the game-winning goal only 1:13 after that.

40 The Oilers won only 40% of the draws tonight. Consistently improving Sam Gagner recorded the best percentage on the team with a 7-7, 50% outing in the faceoff dot.
41 The Oilers were able to generate 41 shots on goal against Dallas. That total is a season-high for the team. In addition, this was only the seventh time this season that the Oilers have outshot their opponent. In those seven games, Edmonton has accumulated a 1-4-2 record.
1 With his assist on J-F Jacques' goal at 5:50 of the third period, Steve MacIntyre collected his first point of the 2010-11 season.
8 The Oilers have not beaten the Stars in regulation time at American Airlines Center in their past eight visits. The last three-period victory came on December 8, 2006.

Kari Lehtonen
41 39 2 60:00 .951

James Neal
G A P +/- Shots
1 0 1 E 4

Ryan Jones
G A P +/- Shots
1 0 1 E 6

Kari Lehtonen
41 39 2 60:00 .951

Nikolai Khabibulin
20 17 3 58:23 .850

Trevor Daley - D

24:35 - 0P, E rating

Tom Gilbert - D

31:05 - 0P, -1 rating

With the Oilers dominating the shot clock, the Stars were making the most of their limited opportunities. Jamie Benn's 12th goal of the season was a fine example of that, as Dallas increased its lead to 2-0. While the Oilers scrambled to find proper defensive positioning, a nifty three-way passing play developed between Loui Eriksson, Brad Richards, and the aforementioned Benn. The sophomore forward was left wide-open in the slot, where he received the pass and put his team up by a pair. It was a fine display of talent as the Stars extended the lead at 14:35 of the middle frame.

Although his linemates Sam Gagner and Magnus Paajarvi also had great evenings, Linus Omark had perhaps his most complete effort in an NHL uniform tonight. While the small forward lacks the physical stature that would naturally intimidate, the compete level and drive to win battles down low makes Omark one of the most dangerous cycle players in the Oilers lineup. Omark was involved all evening in offensive zone chances, with his effort providing sustainability for the consistent zone attack.

Jeff Petry and partner Ladislav Smid were the only Oilers to finish the evening with a plus-one rating. While this statistic is largely inconsequential, the number is fittingly reflective of the pairing's excellent defensive game tonight. Petry in particular was exceptional, as he concluded his night with 18:31 of ice-time, two shots on goal, and three blocked shots. Since his recall, the young defenceman has acquitted himself well and is looking to take on a greater role as his confidence develops.

For much of the evening, the Oilers were unable to match the physical intensity that the Stars were able to initiate. Leading the charge was gritty forward Steve Ott, who finished the night with seven hits in only 15:36 of ice-time. Midway through the second period, Ott's physical brand was introduced to Oilers defenceman Kurtis Foster. After playing the puck up ice, Foster was crushed and sent violenty to the ice with a clean, hard hit that enraged the Oilers bench.

When scoring the game's first goal, the Stars are essentially a lock to win. With Brenden Morrow doing so again tonight, Dallas' record improves to 20-2-1 when scoring first; a feat that easily tops the NHL in this regard.

"I thought our team played really well tonight. We outshot them by double, and that's a pretty good feat against a team that's at the top of the conference, so there's a lot of good things that we can take out of this game."

Taylor Hall on the loss to Dallas

Thursday, January 13 vs. San Jose
  8:30pm MT (SNET-W / 630 CHED)

The Oilers have now lost the opening two games of the current five-game road trip. The team hopes to bounce back Thursday night when the California portion of the trip kicks off in San Jose.

Author: Ryan Dittrick |

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