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Stars Can't Finish Chances, Fall to Oilers in Shootout

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars had plenty of shots and chances Sunday night against the Edmonton Oilers, but they didn’t have a lot of finish. Despite putting 45 shots on goal, the Stars could only score two and ended up falling to the Oilers, 3-2, in a shootout at American Airlines Center.

“It’s frustrating,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “There were glorious opportunities to put them away. We’ve got to bear down a little bit better. We’ve got to make better plays and make sure we finish on some of those better opportunities.”

The Stars have scored two goals or fewer in five of their last six games.

“We’ve been putting up a lot of shots, but we’ve got to find ways to get greasier goals, get to the dirty areas,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “That’s the way you are going to score goals. It’s obviously not easy, but we’ve got to find a way.”

The Stars’ power play continues to struggle. It went 0-4 in the game. It’s 1-37 at home this season, and overall it is 30th ranked in the league at 10.5 percent.

“I think it is frustration,” said Stars forward Shawn Horcoff. “Guys are squeezing their sticks tight. The longer you go until you have success, you think about it too much. I just think we’ve got to get back to keeping it simple.”

The Oilers got solid performances from goaltenders Ilya Bryzgalov and Devan Dubnyk. Bryzgalov stopped 28 of 29 shots before leaving the game late in the second period with an upper body injury. Dubnyk stopped 15 of 16 shots after taking over in net for Edmonton.

“That’s one of those games when your goaltending’s good it allows you to hang around in the game,” said Oilers coach Dallas Eakins. “And we were allowed to hang around and finally get our feet underneath us and get some pressure on them. So real good stuff by both our goalies tonight. They could have easily been first or second stars or second and third, which would have been maybe a first in the NHL.”

The Stars were without center Tyler Seguin and defenseman Stephane Robidas in the game. Seguin missed the game due to concussion-like symptoms.

“He is day to day,” said Ruff. “As soon as he feels better, can exercise and the symptoms go away, he’ll be back getting ready to play.”

The Stars were playing their first game without Robidas, who is out 4-6 months with a leg fracture.

“All of us were working real hard, trying to get a win for Stephane Robidas, “ said Stars forward Ryan Garbutt, who scored both Dallas goals. “We all feel bad for him having to battle through that broken leg. I thought all the guys battled hard for him, it was unfortunate we couldn’t get the win.”

The Stars outshot the Oilers 18-9 in the first period, but there was no scoring. The Stars had two full power plays and a brief five-on-three in the period. The Oilers had two power play chances.

The Stars had 1:51 of power play time to open the second period, but couldn’t cash in. The Oilers got two more power plays in the second and the Stars scored a shorthanded goal on the second one to take a 1-0 lead.

As Horcoff tied up Oilers defenseman Denis Grebeshkov in the neutral zone, Garbutt swept in to steal the puck, broke in alone on net and beat Bryzgalov with a backhand shot at the 11:37 mark.

“It was nice to get a bounce there on the turnover,” said Garbutt. “I just put it on my backhand and it went in.”

The Oilers lost Bryzgalov with 3:41 left in the second when he collided with Garbutt as the Stars forward broke in on net for a scoring chance. Dubnyk took over in net for Edmonton.

The Oilers tied the game with 4.2 seconds left in the second period when Ryan Jones won a puck battle along the boards, put the puck on net and Ales Hemsky scored off the rebound of his own tip-in attempt.

It’s kind of been my mentality all throughout hockey, just get pucks there and (Hemsky) was there for the rebound,” said Jones. “It was a big goal for us late in the second to tie it up.”

The Stars took the lead 3:45 into the third when Antoine Roussel backhanded the puck to Garbutt off the rush and Garbutt scored off a snap shot from about 20 feet out to put the Stars up 2-1.

“It was a nice pass by Roussel,” said Garbutt. “I had my stick on the ice going to the net, and he put it right on my tape.”

Edmonton defenseman Andrew Ference tied the game with 5:07 remaining in the third, scoring on a shot from the point.

The Oilers went on a power play with 3:59 remaining, but the Stars were able to kill it off to keep it a 2-2 game.

Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen came up with a couple of big saves in overtime, stopping Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jeff Petry. Dubnyk got a pad on a good chance by Garbutt.

In the shootout, Jordan Eberle and David Perron scored for the Oilers. Rich Peverley scored the lone goal for the Stars.

The Oilers improved to 5-2-0 over their last seven games. The Stars ended their three-game homestand with a 1-0-2 record and are now 12-9-4 on the season.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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