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Stars Top Oilers for Third Straight Win

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars made it three wins in a row, defeating the Edmonton Oilers, 3-2, at American Airlines Center Tuesday night.

Stars coach Lindy Ruff was looking for a more consistent effort from his team, and he saw a step in the right direction on this night.

“A lot better tonight,” Ruff said. “I thought more players doing the same thing, and a lot of that is making sure you are getting on the right side of the puck.”

The three straight wins have all come at home, where the Stars won just once in their first ten games. They are now 4-5-4 at the AAC. They are 9-9-4 overall and back to a .500 points percentage for the first time since Nov. 13.

“There are still things we’d like to sharpen, staying consistent for 60 minutes,” said Stars center Cody Eakin. “But the three wins at home gives us a little confidence and everyone knows with a little confidence you start playing a healthier game. I think that’s where we are headed.”

The Stars built a 3-1 lead after two periods, and then held off the Oilers in the third. It was an improvement over the final 20 minutes they played Saturday, when they were outshot 16-2 by Los Angeles while protecting a lead. They were outshot 10-6 Tuesday and gave up a goal, but it was progress.

“I thought we played a smart third period,” said Ruff. “There really was only a bad shift after I called a timeout. Otherwise, we were diligent in our assignments. We made them earn anything they wanted to get.”

Tyler Seguin led the Stars’ offensive attack with two goals. Seguin now has a league-leading 17 goals in 22 games.

“He’s shooting the eyes out of a rattlesnake right now,” Ruff said of Seguin. “He’s got one heck of a shot. He’s got one of the best shots I’ve ever seen. You’d be hard pressed to find a guy that is hotter than he is right now.”

John Klingberg had one goal and one assist, giving him eight points (three goals, five assists) in eight games since being recalled from the AHL earlier this month. Kari Lehtonen was sharp in goal, turning away 35 of 37 Edmonton shots.

The Oilers lost their fifth straight game in regulation and saw their winless streak pushed to seven games (0-6-1).

“It seems like early on, we’re killing ourselves,” said Oilers forward Jordan Eberle. “We’re shooting ourselves in the foot and beating ourselves early and then we wake up and find a way to come back but it’s too late.”

Shots were 17-16 in a fast-paced, wide-open first period. The Stars opened the scoring when Klingberg beat Oilers goaltender Viktor Fasth with a slap shot from the neutral zone after a Jason Spezza faceoff win, putting the Stars up 1-0 12:49 into the game.

“That was a lucky goal there,” Klingberg said. “I was going to dump the puck first but kind of wanted to surprise the goalie there, Swedish goalie.”

“It was a knuckler. When you’re hot, you’re hot,” said Ruff. “From the bench, you could see it waffling. He probably doesn’t know who Phil Niekro is, but he threw one of those at them.”

“It took a really weird way to the net, but I still got to have that,” said Fasth. “It’s one of those I want back you know.”

The Stars had a power play late in the period, but the Oilers struck shorthanded to tie the game. After Trevor Daley couldn’t keep a puck at the Edmonton blue line, the Oilers went on a two-on-one rush and Boyd Gordon scored on his own rebound to tie the game 1-1 with 30 seconds left in the first.

The Stars retook the lead at 5:59 of the second when Klingberg sent a long pass to spring Seguin on a breakaway, and Seguin beat Fasth with a backhand to make it a 2-1 game.

“I kind of first saw Eakin there coming in the middle. Then I saw Segs coming from the bench,” Klingberg said. “Just try to put it on the blade.”

“I kind of stayed on the bench for an extra second and hopped on. Klingberg looked right at me,” Seguin said. “It was just one of those things, the second period, long changes, so it's tough on both teams. I got fortunate with a heads-up play by Klingberg.”

Seguin struck again with 2:18 left in the second to make it a 3-1 game. Jamie Benn sent a pass from behind the goal line to Seguin, who scored from the slot for his 17th goal of the season.

The Oilers cut the Stars’ lead to one when Eberle made a sensational between-the-legs backhand pass from behind the goal line to Taylor Hall, who roofed a shot from close range to make it a 3-2 game at 5:59 of the third.

The Oilers came close to getting the equalizer with just over four minutes remaining when a puck got behind Lehtonen and was trickling towards the goal line. But Eakin swept it away to keep the Stars ahead by a goal.

“I kind of lost sight of it and then it was right in front of me, so I whacked it back through Kari’s legs,” Eakin said. “I probably could have pulled it out, but at that point you get it as far away from the goal line as you can.”

The Oilers came close again in the final seconds, but a David Perron shot hit the crossbar leaving the Oilers still in a slide and the Stars on a bit of a roll.

“We’re getting closer to our game and putting together a full game,” said Seguin. “We are still showing glimpses of not playing our game but we were happy to walk away with a win. We need to go on a bit of a run because we put ourselves in a tough hole especially with Thanksgiving coming up. Fortunately, we have lots of time still left but we are getting closer.”

Line juggling

Stars coach Lindy Ruff juggled his lines during the game, and one of the moves was to reunite the line of Antoine Roussel, Cody Eakin and Ryan Garbutt.

“They gave us instant energy. They’re the three guys that just go after it,” said Ruff. “Their north/south game is probably as good as any line in this league, maybe not quite the finish as they probably could have made a couple of more plays. I felt we needed some energy in the second period. We were caught between playing too defensive and getting after it. …. That line was so important for us. I didn’t think apart that [Ryan] Garbutt was getting much done and [Antoine] Roussel was getting much done. Eakin was, but I just thought that putting them back together would be a good thing.”

Eakin had started the night centering the top line with Benn and Seguin on his wings.

“I think we were just maybe a little flat. For a little bit of that we had some chances in the first and second that we weren’t scoring on; so that spark changed it up,” said Eakin. “The spark was there, [Tyler] Seguin got going, and we had a few chances as a line. Get the old band back together.”

Notes

*The Stars have won three straight for the first time this season.

*The Stars improved to 6-2-1 vs. the Pacific Division.

*The Oilers are 0-11-1 vs. the Western Conference.

*The Oilers outshot the Stars 37-34. Tyler Seguin led the Stars with five shots on goal.

*The Stars were 0-4 on the power play and 2-2 on the penalty kill.

*Dallas won 41 of 74 faceoffs (55 percent).

*Jason Spezza won 16 of 25 draws (64 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 7 of 10 (70 percent). Cody Eakin won 12 of 26 (46 percent).

*Jason Demers led the Stars in ice tie with 21:34.

*Tyler Seguin has 10 goals in the last nine games. He leads the NHL with 17 goals.

*John Klingberg has points in five straight games (three goals, five assists).

Stars lineup

Jamie BennCody EakinTyler Seguin
Antoine RousselJason SpezzaAles Hemsky
Erik ColeVernon FiddlerRyan Garbutt
Travis MoenShawn HorcoffPatrick Eaves

Trevor DaleyJason Demers
Alex GoligoskiJohn Klingberg
Jyrki JokipakkaJamie Oleksiak

Kari Lehtonen
Anders Lindback

Scratched: Colton Sceviour, Jordie Benn

Injured: Valeri Nichushkin (hip), Patrik Eaves (arm)

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 DallasStars.com 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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