Edmonton Oilers (7-7-4, 18 pts) @ Dallas Stars (10-8-2, 22 pts)
7:30 PM CT
American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
The Oilers– 13th in the West
Goals – 27th, Goals Against – 15th, Power Play – 5th, Penalty Kill – 4th
Things have not been great for the Oilers this month. Edmonton has only won three out of 11 games in February and has seen their offense sputter throughout the month.
The Oilers have scored three or more goals only twice this month (not coincidently winning each time) and has seen the defense give up at least three goals in eight of the 11 games. A young team that was supposed to be exciting hasn’t quite come to fruition.
Nikolai Khabibulin has started three of the past four games for the Oilers but that’s not going to be the case tonight. He’s on the IR now with some kind of lower body injury so that means Devan Dubnyk in net tonight.
Dubnyk has started only two games since Edmonton last played Dallas and things haven’t gone so well. He was pulled after giving up three goals in the first period to the Colorado Avalanche and then presided over a 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild. He’s off his game and hopefully Dallas can take advantage.
Offensively for Edmonton, Sam Gagner still leads the way with 18 points (five goals, 13 assists). He’s recorded points in four of the last five games but has been held in check against the Stars so far this year (one point in two games).
Aside from Gagner though, it’s been pretty quiet for everyone else. Leading goal scorer Ales Hemsky has been pointless for the past four games and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has only two points the entire month.
Edmonton does get a boost with Taylor Hall back in the lineup after serving a two game suspension.
Besides Khabibulin, Edmonton will also be without Teemu Hartikainen, Anton Lander and Shawn Horcoff.
Possible line combos:
Hall – RNH – Eberle
Yakupov – Gagner – Hemsky
Smyth – Belanger – Petrell
Paajarvi – Vande Velde – Eager
J. Schultz – N. Schultz
Smid – Petry
Fistric – Potter
Dallas – 7th in the West
Goals – 14th, Goals Against – 19th, Power Play – 12th, Penalty Kill – 12th
Things have been busy for Dallas since Tuesday. The points leader on the team, Michael Ryder, got shipped off to the Montreal Canadiens for Eric Cole and Kari Lehtonen now makes his way back to the team.
The return of Lehtonen should be a giant salve for a defense that’s give up at least four goals in five of the last seven games. His absence was huge in losses to Calgary, Vancouver and Nashville. He gets a relatively low scoring Edmonton team in his first game back.
The defense in front of Lehtonen is the big question though. They might be even worse than the start of the season and it’s been getting Kari killed in net. It’ll get no better against the speedy forwards of Edmonton so Lehtonen will be back into the fire tonight.
The Ryder-Cole trade makes things interesting for the Stars lineup. Cole logically takes Ryder’s spot on the third line with Cody Eakin and Antoine Roussel/Reilly Smith and fills the big body role that the line has been lacking. The third line should be an interesting chew-em up and grind-em out line.
Ray Whitney is still out with a foot injury, though he’s skating now, while Aaron Rome is out for a while with a broken foot. Philip Larsen is also out with his neck/back issues after crashing into the boards.
Morrow – Benn – Jagr
Eriksson – Roy – Smith
Roussel – Eakin – Cole
Nystrom – Fiddler – Garbutt
Dillon – Robidas
Benn – Daley
Goligoski – Oleksiak