Shorthanded and working on short rest, the Dallas Stars were undermanned before ultimately being undone by an Edmonton Oilers team that hadn't skated since Sunday.
Playing once again with just 11 forwards because of Sean Avery's suspension -- and 24 hours after a big win over Calgary -- the Stars were unable to muster any of their Alberta magic against the Oilers, falling 5-2 on Wednesday night at Rexall Place.
The loss snapped the Stars' two-game winning streak, and was the first Dallas defeat in the last eight games played in Edmonton. The Stars also had their eight-game overall winning streak against the Oilers stopped three days after beating Edmonton in Dallas 4-3.
The Stars pulled to within 3-2 with 1:40 to go in regulation on Mike Modano's second goal of the game, but Edmonton iced it on Ales Hemsky's empty-netter then Andrew Cogliano's tally with 13 seconds left.
"We were lacking some physical and mental energy and we got down early," coach Dave Tippett said. "I was proud of the way we pushed in the third, but we couldn't get it back where we needed. We are a team that has expended a lot of energy the last few days. We don't have a full bench, and that takes a toll on you."
Modano scored twice, the second straight game he's netted a goal against Edmonton, and goalie Marty Turco made 17 stops in his 14th consecutive start. Turco dropped to 16-5 lifetime against the Oilers.
"Our focus is on our team, how we handle adversity and how we move forward," Modano said. "It'll take a lot of work to dig out of this hole, and it's going to take time."
A night after a gritty 3-1 victory in Calgary, the Stars looked gassed for the first two periods against an Oilers team that snapped their five-game home losing streak while playing for the first time since that loss in Big D Sunday.
Mental breakdowns forced 14 Dallas turnovers, including four by defenseman Matt Niskanen, while the Stars had a difficult time sustaining any offensive pressure on Oilers goalie Mathieu Garon before finding themselves down 3-0 after two frames.
Garon stopped 23 shots in his first start in almost a month for Edmonton, which is now 1-3-4 in its last eight at home against the Stars.
Cogliano, Hemsky and Lubomir Visnovsky had a goal and assist each, and Shawn Horcoff and Marc-Antoine Pouliot also scored for the Oilers, winners of just tow of their last five games.
"The last little while we have been playing better and our work ethic, structure and competitiveness are getting to where they need to be," said defenseman Darryl Sydor, who earned an assist on Modano's second goal. "We had a slow start tonight and battled back, but we can't dig ourselves holes quite so deep."
Down by three, Modano cut the deficit to 3-1 with his first of the game just a minute into the third period. Rookie Fabian Brunnstrom was able to get a backhand on net from the left circle that Garon kicked out with his right pad before Modano outmuscled Visnovsky to bang home the rebound.
Modano then made things interesting with his 539th career goal, and 11th of the season, when he beat Garon with a one-timer from the bottom of the right circle off a feed from Toby Petersen.
But Hemsky put the game away with Turco on the bench with 51 seconds left, and Cogliano capped the scoring with his seventh 38 ticks later.
"I've had a lot of games here over the years. The ice is great here and I've always enjoyed playing here," Modano said. "The puck seems to be finding the net, and it's a good sign that we are playing until the final buzzer."
Up by a pair, Pouliot increased Edmonton's lead to 3-0 with his second of the year just under four minutes into the second period. Standing to the right of Turco, Pouliot was able to slide the puck under Turco, who stacked his pads while sliding to the right.
Horcoff notched his seventh just 1:11 into the game to get the Oilers going. Crossing the blue line on the left wing, he let a slap shot go that knuckled through Turco's legs.
With Landon Wilson in the penalty box, Visnovsky upped Edmonton's edge to 2-0 with his fifth of the year with just 12 seconds left in the first. Visnovsky accepted a pass out of the right corner from Cogliano and ripped a slap shot from the high slot that eluded Turco, who appeared to be screened by Loui Eriksson.
"We didn't seem to have energy the first part of the game," center Brad Richards said. "We pressed in the third but it wasn't quite enough. We had a chance tonight to get a big two points, two in a row, but we have to rebound."
Dallas will return home to play its third game in four nights on Friday when the Colorado Avalanche invade American Airlines Center (7:30, FSN). It'll be the second meeting between the two teams this season. Colorado defeated the Stars 5-4 in Dallas in October.
The Avalanche will be without 39-year-old captain Joe Sakic, who's out for six weeks because of a herniated disc in his back.
--Forward Mark Parrish was hit above the right eye by a slap shot from Stephane Robidas midway through the third period, but didn't miss any time after initially being shaken up.
--It was Modano's third two-goal game of the season.
--The Stars once again dressed seven defensemen.
--Dallas dropped to 1-5 in the second game of back-to-back sets.
--The last time the Stars lost in Edmonton was a 3-0 defeat in Jan. 2004.
--Dallas fell to 10-2 in its last 12 against the Oilers.
--The Stars failed to win three straight for the first time since a four-game run in February.
--Turco had his personal six-game winning streak against the Oilers snapped.
--Eriksson didn't register a point for the first time in seven games.
--Edmonton was 1-for-5 on the power play.
--The Oilers came in with the worst home penalty-killing unit in the league, but were able to erase all four of Dallas' man-advantage opportunities.
--Dallas fell to 1-10-3 when the opponent scores first.
--The Stars are now 6-8-1 on the road.