DALLAS - After a pair of clunkers, the Stars got back on track before the All-Star break against a foe they've had plenty of success against.
Brenden Morrow scored twice, and Kari Lehtonen made 34 saves to help the Stars beat up on the Edmonton Oilers, 3-1 on Wednesday night at American Airlines Center.
It was the fifth straight win over the Oilers for a Dallas team that has now accumulated 18 victories in the last 24 meetings with Edmonton. The Stars also won their 30th game of the season, and will head into this weekend's down time with the bitter taste of blowout losses in previous games against Vancouver and Calgary officially out of their mouth.
"We wanted to have a good feeling going into the break, and we didn't want to be thinking about three losses in a row for the next five days," Morrow said.
As Brad Richards and Loui Eriksson head to Raleigh to play in their very first All-Star game, the rest of the team can relax and watch the pair knowing they were able to effectively erase the memories of a poor finish to a western Canada road trip that started so promising.
The Stars were riding high after setting a franchise record with their eighth straight road win in Edmonton last Thursday, but losses to the Canucks and Flames by a combined score of 14-5 dealt the club a bone-jarring blow.
Against the Oilers, the Stars regrouped and reloaded, and methodically played a patient game while generating scoring chances that featured more quality than quantity.
"We still believed that we were a good team, so we weren't down too much or anything like that," Lehtonen said. "It was a good effort. Everybody was trying hard and we ended up getting the win. We just tried to help each other out, and I think it was pretty evident. It was nice to see."
"We wanted to be physical and show them that we meant business, and make it hard on them," Langenbrunner said. "I think you saw that. When we're initiating like that, we seem to play better. That was definitely a focus tonight. It makes these next four or five days better."
The Oilers surged late in the game, but Lehtonen thwarted the comeback bid with a sensational left pad save on Jean-Francois Jacques from the slot with just under four minutes to go in regulation, then denied Linus Omark's flick shot from in tight with under 20 seconds left to preserve the win.
Lehtonen rebounded soundly from his nightmarish game in Vancouver on Monday, where he allowed seven goals on 33 shots before being lifted with seven minutes to go.
"I was happy I was able to make those saves," Lehtonen said. "I wasn't able to make the saves in the Vancouver game, so it was big for me to really play well. It was nice that I was able to help the guys and be part of the win."
"Great bounce-back game for Kari Lehtonen, even though he wasn't at fault the other night in Vancouver," coach Marc Crawford said. "He was outstanding. We've gotten so used to such quality, high-end goaltending from both he and Andrew Raycroft this year that it was great to see that type of goaltending tonight. We needed our goalie to be one of our better players, and he was."
Dustin Penner scored, and Nikolai Khabibulin finished with 18 saves for the Oilers, who dropped to 3-12-3 in their last 18.
"It was a character win for our group given the fatigue and the injuries that we've had to battle through," Crawford said. "The break could not come at a better time for us."
Up by a goal after 20 minutes, Morrow pushed the lead to 2-0 when he banged home his 20th of the season while the Stars were on the power play 2:32 into the second. Standing in front of the Edmonton goal, Morrow corralled Langenbrunner's shot from the point that went off Oilers defenseman Tom Gilbert before jamming the puck home.
Morrow then tapped in his second of the game 5:50 later to make it 3-0. Langenbruner sent a pretty pass from the right corner to the top of the crease, where Morrow neatly tucked the puck in.
Penner cut the deficit to 3-1 with a power-play goal with 2:16 left in the middle frame. After Lehtonen made a nice kick save on Shawn Horcoff's backhand from the slot, Penner shoveled in the rebound for his 16th of the year.
Burish opened the scoring to give Dallas a 1-0 lead midway through the first period with his career-high seventh goal of the season. From the right circle he let a wicked snap shot go that beat Khabibulin.
The Stars return from the break to play the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday at American Airlines Center (7:30 p.m., FS-SW). The Canucks have beaten the Stars twice this season.
"It starts again in a few days, so we have to get ready for that," Lehtonen said.
-- Defensemen Jeff Woywitka, Benn, and Wandell all missed the game because of upper body injuries. Woywitka missed his third straight game.
-- Krystofer Barch and Edmonton defenseman Jim Vandermeer engaged in a first-period scrap. Just 14 seconds later, Matt Niskanen dropped Oilers center Colin Fraser with a succession of lethal rights.
-- Barch incurred his second fight of the contest when he went at it with Edmonton winger Zack Stortini in the second period.
-- Winger James Neal was assessed 19 minutes in penalties in the second period -- including a 10-minute misconduct -- after instigating a fight with Edmonton's Theo Peckham.
-- The intense affair featured a combined 100 minutes in penalties.
-- Center Travis Morin played in his first career NHL game after being called-up from Texas of the AHL on Tuesday, and was in the starting lineup. He is currently the leading scorer with Texas.
-- Last year the Stars didn't win their 30th game until March 16 against San Jose. They've won 30 or more games in 14 consecutive seasons, the fifth-longest streak in the NHL.
-- The Stars have beaten the Oilers three times during the month of January.
-- Stephane Robidas collected his 200th career NHL point with a helper on Morrow's first goal.
-- Morrow has reached the 20-goal plateau seven times in his 11-year career.
-- Neal and Richards also have 20 goals, giving the Stars the most 20-goal scorers in the league.
-- The Stars are 7-0-1 in their last eight at home against the Oilers. Edmonton has not won a game in regulation in Dallas since Dec. 23, 2006.
-- The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five at home.
-- Dallas finished with the second-best January record in team history (8-2-1).
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