The Dallas Stars late-season push for a playoff spot hit a major roadblock in Edmonton Friday night with a 4-0 loss to the Oilers.
The loss left the Stars still eight points behind Winnipeg for the second wild-card spot with seven games remaining for both teams.
“We can’t afford to give up any points right now,” said Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski. “We knew we probably had to win out. If not probably room to lose a couple points at best. A loss hurts right now.”
The Oilers scored 33 seconds into the game to take a 1-0 lead and then scored three times in the third period to end a four-game winning streak for Dallas.
“I don’t think we played very well. It started with the first shift. We turned the puck over on the first shift and got scored against,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “We had a lot of turnovers. Defensively we didn’t play very well, and that led to a lot of odd-numbered situations. They played pretty well. They took advantage of their situations, and we just seemed a step behind.”
The Stars had a 75-42 advantage in attempted shots and had several quality chances but couldn’t get a puck past Oilers goaltender Richard Bachman, who made 29 saves for the shutout. Bachman’s teammates chipped in with 25 blocked shots. The Stars missed the net 21 times.
“We had our chances,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “We had chances to tie it up. It didn’t happen.”
Edmonton won its second straight game and finished its six-game homestand 4-1-1. Bachman won his first NHL game since April 2013 when he was still with Dallas.
“It was good,” Bachman said. “On a selfish note, it was good to beat them. I thought our guys did a real good job of blocking shots when I couldn’t see it and capitalizing on our opportunities. We probably gave up a few odd-man rushes we didn’t like, but I thought it was a real good hockey game.”
The Stars turned the puck over in the neutral zone in the first minute of the game and a defensive breakdown seconds later resulted in Jordan Eberle scoring from close range to give Edmonton a 1-0 lead 33 seconds into the game. After that, there were plenty of chances in a wide-open first period, but no additional scoring.
There were more quality chances in the second period, but no scoring. Stars forward Curtis McKenzie got a clean breakaway after coming out of the penalty box, but shot wide. Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a clean breakaway moments later, but Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen stopped his backhand bid. The Dallas goaltender came up big later in the period, turning away Benoit Pouliot on an odd-man rush. Bachman stopped a quality bid from Patrick Eaves off the rush late in the second.
The Stars had chances to tie early in the third. Bachman stopped Ales Hemsky on a breakaway, and Tyler Seguin shot high from close range.
The Oilers then scored three goals over the final half of the period put the game away. After the Stars turned over the puck in their own end, Derek Roy scored from close range to make 2-0 at the 9:24 mark. Taylor Hall set up Pouliot, who scored from close range to give Edmonton a 3-0 lead at the 13:32 mark. Andrew Miller scored on a penalty shot at 16:40 for his first NHL goal to make it a 4-0 final score.
“It’s a tough one. We didn’t play the game we’ve been playing lately that has made us successful, and it cost us tonight,” said Stars center Shawn Horcoff. “Still believe we have a chance if we run the table. We have to put it behind us and get ready for [Saturday at Vancouver].”
*The Stars had a six-game winning streak in Edmonton come to an end.
*Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen had a nine-game winning streak on the road come to an end.
*The Stars were shut out for the third time this season and the second time in the past two weeks.
*The Stars were 0-3 on the power play and 1-1 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 43 of 62 faceoffs (69 percent).
*Jason Spezza won 14 of 23 draws (61 percent). Cody Eakin won 8 of 9 (89 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 8 of 11 (73 percent). Shawn Horcoff won 7 of 11 (64 percent).
*John Klingberg led the Stars with 21:30 of ice time.
*The Stars loaned forward Valeri Nichushkin to the Texas Stars on a conditioning assignment. Nichushkin played in Texas’ 2-0 loss to Grand Rapids Friday. He had no points and three shots on goal.
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Patrick Eaves
Cody Eakin – Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel – Vernon Fiddler – Colton Sceviour
Curtis McKenzie – Shawn Horcoff – Brett Ritchie
Jyrki Jokipakka – Alex Goligoski
Patrik Nemeth – John Klingberg
Jordie Benn – Jason Demers
Scratched: Ryan Garbutt, Travis Moen
Conditioning assignment: Valeri Nichushkin
Injured: Trevor Daley (knee)
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.