Stars aim to continue mastery of Oilers
STARS (41-30-5) at OILERS (31-36-9)
TV: FS-SW (HD), SNET-EDM (HD)
Dallas 6-4-0; Edmonton 5-2-3
The Stars are looking for a season sweep of the Oilers, having won the first three games this season by a combined margin of 11-3. Edmonton has one goal in each of the three contests.
Dallas could end Wednesday night atop the Pacific Division and in third place in the Western Conference, or the Stars could end up in seventh, eighth or ninth place with five games to play.
This is the second of a four-game road trip and the middle stop in Western Canada. Dallas missed out on a chance for a home-and-home sweep Monday against the Calgary Flames, but the Stars are currently inside the top eight in the West with 87 points.
The schedule is going to get much tougher after this contest -- Dallas has five games remaining and they are all against teams currently in the top five of the conference. Dallas has two more games against current Pacific Division leader San Jose, as well as one against St. Louis, Vancouver and Nashville.
"Well, you've got to learn how to win," coach Glen Gulutzan told reporters after the 5-4 loss to Calgary. "The way we went about it, it doesn't look like we want to win. It really doesn't. They got to figure that out for themselves. They either want in or they don't."
Budding star Taylor Hall will be out for 5-to-6 months because he needs shoulder surgery, the Oilers announced Monday. Both of Hall's first two seasons have now been cut short by injury, and he also had two head injuries this season -- a concussion and a scary incident when his forehead was cut open by a wayward skate.
When healthy, Hall has been very productive and could be one of the League's top power forwards in short order. There will be increased expectations in Edmonton next season, and the Oilers will need a healthy Hall to help fulfill them.
Who's Hot: Jamie Benn
had 2 goals for the Stars in each of the games against the Flames and now has 13 goals in 22 games since the All-Star break. … Edmonton defenseman Ladislav Smid went 124 games without a goal before scoring Nov. 26. He now has 5 goals in his past 54 contests after scoring twice in the past three contests. He leads Edmonton's defense corps with 5 tallies this season.
Forwards Eric Nystrom
and Radek Dvorak
and defenseman Mark Fistric
all either missed the game Monday or left it early, but all three could play against the Oilers for Dallas. … Hall is out for the Oilers, along with defenseman Theo Peckham (concussion). Forwards Shawn Horcoff (back) and Lennart Petrell (groin) are day-to-day.
Stars forward Loui Eriksson
needs two points to reach 70 for the third straight season. Currently, there are only three NHL players who have reached 70 points in the past three seasons -- Henrik Sedin, Steven Stamkos and Joe Thornton. Six other guys, including Eriksson, have a realistic chance of joining that trio with 70-plus points each of the past three years. Henrik Zetterberg, Anze Kopitar, Martin St. Louis, Eric Staal and Daniel Sedin, if he can return in time from a concussion, are the others.
There is plenty of history between these two franchises dating back to Dallas' days in Minnesota, but when it comes to the postseason there aren't a lot of good memories for the Oilers. The Minnesota North Stars defeated the defending-champion Oilers in the 1991 Stanley Cup Playoffs en route to the Cup Final.
After Edmonton defeated the Stars in 1997, Dallas began an amazing run of dominance against Edmonton in the postseason. The Stars defeated the Oilers in the postseason in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2003, losing only six times in five series.