Dallas Stars (6-5-1, 13 pts) @ Edmonton Oilers (5-4-3, 13 pts)
8:30 PM CT
Rexall Place, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Goals – 24th, Goals Against – 9th, Power Play – 5th, Penalty Kill – 5th
Edmonton has been stuck in a rut since the calendar turned to February. The Oilers have lost five of the last six games (three in OT or SO) as injuries have piled up.
Their core of centers has been decimated the past few weeks and their offense has sputtered as a result. In each of their losses, the Oilers scored two or fewer goals and it wasn’t until they met the Columbus Blue Jackets this past Sunday that they finally got back in the win column. Even then, they didn’t score their second goal of the game until there were three minutes left.
There are a few players though that have been playing well on offense.
Sam Gagner is still the leading scorer for the team and had a goal and an assist against the Blue Jackets. He’s had at least one point in 11 of the 12 games this season. Ales Hemsky is also on a bit of a hot streak with goals in three of the past four games and at least one point in four of the last five.
While Nikolai Khabibulin is back, I expect Devan Dubnyk to start this game. He’s done well this season and was the main reason while the Oilers beat the Blue Jackets. He stopped 39 of 40 shots and carried Edmonton to a win despite being outshot 40-14.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins missed the last game against the Stars but he’ll be back tonight. The Oilers will still be without Shawn Horcoff (broken hand), Anton Lander (broken foot), and Ryan Jones (eye).
It also looks like Mark Fistric will play in this game for the Oilers so that’ll be interesting.
Possible line combos:
Hall – RNH – Eberle
Hemsky – Gagner – Yakupov
Hartikainen – Belanger – Smyth
Paajarvi – Petrell – Hordichuk
J. Schultz – Petry
Smid – N. Schultz
Whitney – Fistric
Goals – 28th, Goals Against – 8th, Power Play – 17th, Penalty Kill – 10th
Dallas is coming into this game on a roll. They’ve won three straight (four of the last five) and have found some offense again with three goals in each of those games. Their last game against Anaheim was their best game of the season.
Most of that offense has been provided by Jamie Benn. Benn is on an absolute tear with four goals and six points in the last three games. He’s been carrying this team offensively and has found great chemistry with Jaromir Jagr and Brenden Morrow.
Loui Eriksson also seems to have awoken from his slumber. After spending much of the past two weeks with no points (or even shots on goal) he’s now had a goal and two assists in the last two games. If he and the second line can get going, it’ll be a huge boost for this team.
The Stars have managed to keep their penalty problems down a bit lately. They’ve been on the penalty kill only seven times the last two games and they’ve even managed to score three power play goals in that span. Special teams are actually a plus on this team for once.
Kari Lehtonen gets the start again tonight. He’s been stellar this season and has been the MVP of the team.
Morrow – Benn – Jagr
Eriksson – Roy – Ryder
Vincour – Eakin – Smith
Nystrom – Fiddler – Roussel/Garbutt
Dillon – Robidas
Larsen – Daley
Goligoski – Oleksiak