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Under the Scope: Oilers vs. Stars

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers came into this evening's game with Dallas having endured a number of streaks that were preventing additional markers in the win column. Nikolai Khabibulin's 14-game losing skid prevented the Oilers from establishing a solid rotation between the pipes. Combined with an ineffective power-play that was scoreless on its last 25 opportunities, the seven-game losing streak at Rexall Place was becoming all too clear; all were related and needed to be corrected before a victory could be decided.

But on this night, Edmonton overcame the odds and defeated the Dallas Stars in convincing fashion. Taylor Chorney recorded his first career NHL goal (on the power-play, no less), while Nikolai Khabibulin made 24 saves on the 25 shots he faced en route to the dominating 4-1 victory. Shawn Horcoff, Jordan Eberle and Ales Hemsky scored the Oilers' other goals on the night, while Dallas' Loui Eriksson recorded his club's only tally.

Khabibulin's streak is over, the power-play nightmare is done, and the seven-game winless skid at Rexall Place has come to an end with the 4-1 triumph Tuesday night.

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

After the Oilers were able to establish a 2-0 lead in the second period courtesy of goals from Jordan Eberle and Taylor Chorney, Dallas continued to press in an effort to orchestrate a comeback. Loui Eriksson's power-play goal at 16:31 of the middle frame appeared to give the Stars some life, but the Oilers responded quickly with a man-advantage strike of their own. Ales Hemsky threaded the needle to find Shawn Horcoff to the right of Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen, where the captain tapped home the team's third goal of the evening, restoring the two-goal lead and silencing the Stars for good.

42 The Oilers were victorious on 42% of the draws tonight. Sam Gagner was best on the team, posting a 7-5, 58% outing in the dot.
7 With the victory tonight, the Oilers snapped a seven-game winless skid at Rexall Place.
25 J-F Jacques' crunch early in the first period got the ball rolling, but the team continued to present a physical threat all evening. In total, the Oilers accumulated 25 hits; Dallas could only respond with 16 of their own.
26 Team defence was the common theme tonight. While Nikolai Khabibulin was excellent, the team in front of him helped immensely. When the final buzzer sounded, the Oilers had blocked an incredible 26 shots.

Shawn Horcoff
G A P +/- Shots
1 2 3 +2 2

Taylor Chorney
G A P +/- Shots
1 1 2 E 2

Nikolai Khabibulin
25 24 1 59:55 .960

Kari Lehtonen
30 26 4 59:44 .867

Nikolai Khabibulin
25 24 1 59:55 .960

Trevor Daley - D

23:01 - 0P, -1 rating

Tom Gilbert - D

23:50 - 2A, +1 rating

Although the game featured a number of beautifully orchestrated plays, including Taylor Chorney's first career NHL goal, none were more impressive than the early heroics of Nikolai Khabibulin. Early in the first period with the Stars breaking in on a two-on-one, Mike Ribiero slid a perfect pass across to Brenden Morrow. The Dallas captain made solid contact, but an outstretched Khabibulin made a circus-like save to preserve the 0-0 stalement. This play was just the appetizer for an MVP performance that saw Khabibulin break his personal 14-game losing skid.

After being recalled from the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons Monday, Taylor Chorney made an emphatic return to the NHL with a tremendous performance that saw him register his first career NHL goal. In addition, Chorney added an assist in the same second period where the home side established a comfortable two-goal cushion. After a short stint with the big club a few weeks ago, Chorney is hoping his most recent opportunity will provide a lasting stay in Oil Country.

After enduring a personal 14-game losing streak, Nikolai Khabibulin returned the pipes tonight and put that unfortunate statistic behind him. At the end of the evening, Khabibulin recorded an impressive 24 saves on the 25 shots he faced, including a number of brilliant stops early in the game's first period to set the tone of an overall outstanding night. Khabibulin's efforts also earned him the game's third star honours on a night when the Oilers snapped an eight-game winless skid at Rexall Place.

After a disappointing outing vs. Anaheim Sunday night, the Oilers needed a strong start to initiate a physical tone. J-F Jacques did just that, with a crunching blow on Dallas defenceman Stephane Robidas. After collecting the puck behind his own net, Robidas passed to a teammate in preparation for the incoming collision. Jacques connected with a solid, clean, shoulder-to-shoulder blow that rippled the glass and brought Rexall Place to life.

It was a night dedicated to snapping streaks and memorable firsts. Taylor Chorney's power-play goal in the second period was the team's first in 25 opportunities; the Oilers added another power-play tally in the second period, giving Edmonton its first two-goal night with the man-advantage since early October; Taylor Chorney became the eighth Oilers player to score his first NHL goal this season.

"It was great. We obviously got challenged yesterday and, you know, 23 guys showed up tonight and played a great game. The last two games haven't been indicative of the way we've been playing. I thought before that we were putting in some good efforts and weren't getting the results."

-  Captain Shawn Horcoff on the win over Dallas

Thursday, February 17 vs. Montreal
  7:00pm MST (CBC / 630 CHED)

After snapping a seven-game winless skid at Rexall Place, the Oilers hope to carry the good vibes into Thursday night's battle with the Montreal Canadiens. Game-time is 7pm and can be seen on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada.

Author: Ryan Dittrick |

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