EDMONTON - In a game that pitted a pair of teams desperately needing wins, something had to give. In dramatic fashion, it wound up being the Stars' horrific experiences on the road.
James Neal snapped a third-period tie with 23 seconds left in regulation after Sam Gagner got the equalizer 39 seconds earlier, and Dallas finally captured a much-needed road win by gutting out a 4-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night at Rexall Place. The win snapped the Stars' ugly 10-game road losing streak while sending the Oilers to their 10th consecutive defeat.
It was the first time the Stars had won on the road since Dec. 11, and the first time they've taken a road game in regulation since a 3-1 win at Detroit on Nov. 18.
"It's been a long time coming for our club on the road," goalie Marty Turco said. "I'm pretty happy getting the win, finally, because enough's enough."
Indeed. The win was certainly a long-time coming, but a bit nerve-wracking as well. Gagner knotted the game up with his second tally of the night when his shot bounced off Turco before rebounding in off Mike Modano's skate with 62 seconds left in regulation.
Undeterred, the Stars bounced back when Neal deposited a wrist shot in from the right circle after Edmonton defenseman Jason Strudwick errantly swatted the puck right to the Stars' winger.
Turco then sealed the win when he slid to his left to deny Dustin Penner's rebound attempt that seemed destined to go in with 9 seconds to go.
"It was one of those things where it was, 'Why here, why now?'" Turco said about the unfortunate bounce off Modano's skate. "But to get out of something like the streak of losing on the road like we're in, we knew it wasn't going to be easy, but we didn't know it was going to be that hard coming down at the end."
Against a team that was reeling, the Stars were able to dominate a first period in which they outshot the Oilers by an 18-11 margin, then ultimately hung on over the final 40 minutes thanks to the solid play of Turco.
Modano scored his 552nd career NHL goal, and Trevor Daley and rookie Jamie Benn added tallies for the Stars, who also snapped a seven-game road regulation losing streak as well.
Turco, making his first start after a three-game hiatus, finished with 36 saves, while Steve Ott added a pair of helpers.
"That's the goaltending we need," Ott said. "He has a new focus, I know, for the rest of the season, and the Marty Turco that we're used to I think he's going to be that guy the rest of the way."
The injury-riddled Stars were missing Tom Wandell, who missed his first game after sustaining a lower-body injury against Vancouver on Thursday night. Wandell joined Mike Ribeiro, Brenden Morrow and Jere Lehtinen on the shelf, and forced Benn to once again play center.
"When you have guys missing you try to do a little extra, and all the guys in this room are doing a little bit extra," Ott said. "We're continuing to try and push with the players that are missing."
Ryan Potulny added a goal for the lowly Oilers, and Devan Dubnyk finished with 28 saves.
"I like how our team played in the third period," coach Marc Crawford said. "We got back on the forecheck and got back on finishing checks. The very end of the game, it wasn't a game that came down to the last shot because the last shot was a shot and a rebound. For us, I think we got a little bit of the bounce, but I thought we worked pretty hard for that bounce. I like the way our players dug in, and it's a step in the right direction for us."
With a one-goal lead, the Stars pushed their advantage to 3-1 11:23 into the second period when Benn tallied his ninth of the season. On a mini 2-on-1 rush, Ott fed Benn a perfect pass in the slot, and the rookie quickly wristed the puck past Dubnyk.
But Gagner scored his 11th with just 19 seconds left in the middle frame to make it 3-2, potting a one-timer from the lower part of the left circle after receiving a cross-ice pass from Tom Gilbert.
Dallas opened the scoring when Daley picked up his third goal of the year 6 minutes into the first period. Ott collected Gilbert's giveaway at the blue line before slipping a pass to Daley at the middle of the line. Daley's slap shot whizzed past Dubnyk for a 1-0 Dallas advantage.
The Stars were then handed power play after power play, as Shawn Horcoff and Fernando Pisani started an Oilers' parade to the sin bin at 6:41. The Stars were unable to convert on the full two-minute power play, but were given another chance when Gagner was whistled for holding 48 seconds after the first two penalties expired.
Dallas was again unable to cash in, but finally found the back of the net when Modano scored on the Stars' fourth power play opportunity at 12:33. His blistering shot from the right point deflected off the stick of Strudwick in front before rising above Dubnyk's shoulder for a 2-0 Dallas edge.
The Oilers, though, capitalized on their first power-play opportunity of the night when Potulny scored 39 seconds later. Potulny was able to jam home his own rebound to cut the Stars' lead to 2-1.
The Stars will conclude their three-game road trip on Sunday when they play in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche at 7 p.m. (FSSW). The Avs entered Friday's action atop the Northwest Division with 62 points, and had won four straight.
-- Morrow missed his third straight game because of an upper-body injury, and continues to be day-to-day.
-- Center Warren Peters replaced Wandell in the lineup.