Although scoring has supposedly been on the decline again this year, the 17,833 fans at the American Airlines Center Monday night were treated to an offensive explosion as the Dallas Stars defeated the Edmonton Oilers 5-4 in overtime.
Captain Brenden Morrow scored a power play goal with one minute remaining in OT to give the Stars their first win in three games. The victory moved them two points into the lead in the Pacific Division, ahead of San Jose.
The Stars received a lot of offense from the blueline, as defenseman Sergei Zubov contributed one goal and three assists, while his partner on D, 21-year-old rookie Matt Niskanen added a goal and two assists.
“Nisky has been great and I feel reborn playing with him,” the 37-year-old Zubov said. “He has so much patience and makes plays seem so easy. We needed points and this was a big win for us.”
Mike Ribeiro scored one goal and one assist, while Antti Miettinen returned from a three-game absence due to a groin injury to post two assists. Mike Modano netted the Stars’ other goal while Marty Turco turned aside 17 shots in goal for his 10th win of the season.
Highlighted by five goals within a span of 4:40 in the first nine minutes of the game, this game was enough to remind longtime hockey fans of the glory years of firewagon hockey in the 1980s.
“It wasn’t as tight a checking as either coach would’ve liked, but there were some nice plays both ways,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said. “Give the players some credit. Antti was a good player for us tonight and hopefully he continues pushing forward. We expected him to enhance our group, and he has good quickness and skill and he reads off people well.”
In the third game of a four-game homestand after losing the first two, Dallas overcame a young, pesky Oilers club that kept battling back and tied the game late in the third period to force overtime.
But when Jarret Stoll was whistled for holding at 2:04 of OT, the Stars’ power play, which was in a 3-for-33 slump, generated multiple scoring chances before finally breaking through with just four seconds left in the advantage.
Edmonton netminder Mathieu Garon made nice saves on shots from Modano and Zubov during the power play, but couldn’t stop the last one, where Morrow, camped right in front, deflected Zubov’s wrist shot from the blue line up and over Garon’s glove and just under the crossbar.
“Getting it done in overtime, taking advantage of the power play was huge,” Morrow said of his 10th goal of the season. “We tried that play about 30 seconds before and I flubbed it, but he always puts it on the tape and made just a great pass to me for the winner. He is a guy that is not well-known, but we know the value of him to our team.”
“Brenden made a great play in OT and Zubov was just outstanding tonight, as always,” added Niskanen, who earned his second assist on the game-winner. “He is so smart and so patient with the puck and has such great vision. He makes the game look so easy.”
Entering the third period with a 4-3 lead, the Stars enjoyed their first real scoring chances on a power play midway through the period, as both Zubov and Jokinen had opportunities, but couldn’t convert, with Jokinen’s appearing to glance off the post on a wrist shot from a sharp angle.
Edmonton knotted the score, though, with 9:24 remaining in regulation, as Shawn Horcoff scored his 14th goal of the season. Dustin Penner came out from behind the net and tried a wrap-around that Turco stopped, but the rebound bounced in front, and Horcoff managed to slide it just past Turco’s outstretched pad and inside the near post for the equalizer.
Dallas almost took the lead again with 4:35 remaining when Garon stopped Jussi Jokinen’s backhander from the right face-off circle, and Niklas Hagman jammed away at the loose rebound, but Garon smothered it.
Modano had another chance with just 35 seconds left in regulation when he spun and fired a slap shot from the top of the right circle, but again, Garon flashed out the pad and made the save, one of 22 he made in relief of starter Dwayne Roloson.
Leading 3-2 entering the second, Turco made the first nice save of the period as he turned aside Horcoff’s wrist shot from the slot.
Dallas had a golden opportunity to increase the lead 4:45 into the second with Modano in the penalty box, as Jeff Halpern sped into the Edmonton zone on a breakaway, but Garon made the save, and then another on a rebound.
The Oilers then evened the score 3-3 on rookie Tom Gilbert’s fifth goal of the season at 10:40. Gilbert whipped a high wrist shot over the shoulder of a screened Turco. Dallas was upset afterwards because just seconds before the goal, Modano had been slashed and taken down by Patrick Thoreson, allowing the Oilers to take possession of the puck in the Stars’ zone.
Dallas then regained the lead less than four minutes later when Zubov connected for his fourth of the year with 5:40 remaining. With Turco on the bench because of a delayed penalty call, Miettinen fed a nice cross-ice pass from the left circle to Zubov on the right side, and his one-timer found an open net.
The game started with a physical slant as winger Steve Ott leveled Edmonton’s Ales Hemsky in open ice, leaving Hemsky struggling in pain a bit before he slowly got back up to his feet.
The Oilers jumped on top on the scoreboard first, though, when rookie Sam Gagner, the 18-year-old son of former Star Dave Gagner, connected for his third goal of the season at 4:26. Robert Nilsson fed a sweet cross-ice pass to Gagner in the right circle, and he blasted a one-timer that beat a sliding Turco for a 1-0 lead.
Edmonton’s Ladislav Smid was whistled for roughing at 4:39, but it was the Oilers who had the best opportunity on the man-advantage. About five and a half minutes into the period, Marty Reasoner stole the puck from Zubov at the Edmonton blue line and raced in on a breakaway, but Turco made the save.
Just after the power play expired, the Stars struck on a pretty passing play in which all five players on the ice touched the puck before Ribeiro slammed home an easy tap-in at 6:44, taking the last beautiful dish from Miettinen in the left circle.
“I’ve had a few like that this year, I think that’s my style to score goals, just be by the post, but it was a great pass by Miet,” Ribeiro said of his team-leading 13th goal of the season. “I think he had two great passes today, that one to Zubov, too, was kind of nice. He’s been producing every time he’s played.”
“I saw the first one, I knew Ribby was going to be there,” Miettinen said. “I didn’t really think about anything else except maybe slide it over there, and the second one, I was about to shoot it, but I saw Zubie curl to the back post.”
That goal kicked off a crazy few minutes that saw three more goals scored in the next 2:22 and left the Oilers with a different goaltender.
The Stars stormed right back into the Oilers’ zone and scored again just 22 seconds later, as Niskanen ripped a slap shot from the blue line through a screen that sailed over Edmonton starting goalie Dwayne Roloson’s shoulder and just under the crossbar.
Dallas didn’t have much time to celebrate however, as the Oilers tied it again just 1:10 later as Penner scored his seventh goal on a fluky bounce at 8:26. Just 10 seconds after Turco made a nice save on Steve Staois’ one-timer from the right circle, Penner won a battle for the puck behind the Dallas net and swept out front for a wrap-around attempt. The puck then deflected up and off Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas’ helmet and ricocheted past Turco.
“It hit my stick, hit my visor and went top shelf,” Robidas said, shaking his head. “Just bad luck. There’s nothing you can do. Nine out of 10, it will hit my stick and go over me or go back behind the net. I don’t know, there’s not much you can do there, it’s just bad luck.”
The Stars responded to that bad bounce by generating some more offense, resulting in Modano’s 10th of the season at 9:06 for a 3-2 Dallas lead before the period was even half over. Zubov fired a wrist shot from the top of the left circle that Roloson stopped, but the rebound went right to Jussi Jokinen low in the left circle, and with Roloson still down, Jokinen fed Modano in front. Modano just banged it home into the half-empty net.
With Roloson having allowed three goals on six shots, Edmonton coach Craig McTavish opted to pull him, and Garon entered the crease in his place.
Garon made his first save just 20 seconds later when Miettinen ripped a one-timer from the high slot, but was denied.
Edmonton came back with five minutes to go in the first, when rookie Kyle Brodziak stole the puck from Mattias Norstrom at the Oilers’ blue line and skated in on a partial breakaway before unleashing a slap shot from the top of the circles. Turco got some of the shot, but it got by him and rang off the post before bouncing harmlessly into the corner.
“We felt pretty good tonight as a group, as a team,” Zubov said. “We had a couple of goals to get right back in the game. Then they got a couple of breaks. It was probably a fun game to watch.”
The Stars complete their four-game homestand Thursday when they take on the Los Angeles Kings (7:30 pm, FSN), before embarking on a four-game road trip that includes the dreaded Western Canada journey through Edmonton, Vancouver and Calgary.
The Stars defeated the Kings 3-0 on Nov. 19, just three games after their third-period meltdown in LA on Nov. 10.
- With his career-high-tying four-point night, his second of the season, Zubov took over the NHL lead in defenseman scoring, with 28 points (four goals, 24 assists). The 24 assists also leads all NHL blue liners. Zubov also had a game-high six shots on goal and led the Stars in ice time with 27:33.
- Niskanen entered the day with just one assist in his previous seven contests, and then had a career-high three points and a + 3 plus/minus rating in 23:12 of ice time.
- Miettinen, who took over the right wing on the top line with Morrow and Ribeiro, now has four points in the last three games that he’s played in (two goals, two assists).
- The Oilers are decimated by injuries, missing such key players as defensemen Sheldon Souray, Dick Tarnstrom and Matt Greene, as well as forwards Geoff Sanderson and Ethan Moreau. The Oilers have already lost 134 man-games to injuries so far this season.
- Turco entered the night with a stellar 11-4-0 career record against the Oilers with three shutouts and a 2.13 goals-against average.
- Since moving to Dallas, the Stars are now 39-9-5 against the Oilers, their best record against any opponent in that time frame. On home ice, they are 21-4-2.
1 - 0 EDM
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 DAL
2 - 2 Tie
3 - 2 DAL
3 - 3 Tie
4 - 3 DAL
4 - 4 Tie