This game shouldn't have had parallels to Thursday night's against the Blackhawks. And yet it did. A Stars lead disappeared in the third period and they fell in a shootout to a team they could have (should have) beaten.
The biggest worry going into tonight was how the Stars would bounce back from the loss of Stephane Robidas. But it wasn't just Robi out of the lineup. Tyler Seguin sat out tonight due to concussion like symptoms, and as a result the Stars forwards looked like a group of players unfamiliar with each other. Which they were, as we saw more shuffling than there's been in some time. Valeri Nichushkin somehow found his way down to the fourth line, playing alongside Jeffrey and Horcoff, while Jamie Benn took Whitney's place on a line with Cody Eakin and Alex Chiasson.
In fact the only line to remain the same from two nights ago was the Fiddler-Garbutt- Roussel trio. Good thing too.
The first period was black and white for the Stars. They were either dominating possession in the Oilers' zone, or playing a very sloppy game in the other zones. A pair of Too Many Men on the Ice penalties against the Stars were evidence of that, as miscommunications and handling errors plagued them. But despite that, Dallas outshot the Oilers 18-9 through the first 20 minutes and had a good looking powerplay that held possession in the Oilers' zone for a full minute and a half. Without scoring though, of course.
Part of that though was the play of Ilya Bryzgalov. Blazer Guy did his best to distract the Oilers' netminder, and make up for the empty seats around him, but Bryzgalov was playing like his first game this season, where he shutout the Predators, and not like his second game, where he got yanked in the second period. Too bad.
The period began with the majority of a powerplay carried over from the first period, in which the Stars looked largely ineffectual, even turning over the puck for a good scoring chance for the Oilers
Bryzgalov continued his impressive play early in the second, stoning Jamie Benn in close early and then again on multiple chances midway through the period. The Stars finally got one past him as Ryan Garbutt took advantage of a turnover at the Edmonton blueline to go in alone and sneak the puck by with one second remaining on an Oilers' powerplay. So the Stars special teams scored a goal. But it wasn't the powerplay unit.
Best early chance for the Oilers was an impressive spinning kick by Jones. So I guess it wasn't really a chance since it would have been waved off, but in real time it looked impressive.
A few minutes later Garbutt showed off his impressive speed again, coming in this time from the right wing and beating his man to get a shot off. Unfortunately Bryzgalov made the save and the two of them collided hard, with Bryz staying down on the ice for a few minutes and eventually coming off, to be replaced by Devan Dubnyk.
Dubnyk wasn't tested too much in the last few minutes, but that doesn't mean the Stars didn't have chances. A pass through the crease on a two on one just missed Peverley's stick, and the Stars carried a lot of the play the last couple minutes, taking advantage of several Edmonton turnovers.
The Stars failed to convert though and, on a last rush into the Stars zone a big hit on Chiasson on the boards in the Dallas zone led to an Edmonton goal in the dying seconds of the period. Sound familiar?
Having given up that potentially backbreaking goal late in the second, the Stars responded well early in the third, with Antoine Roussel setting up a nice goal four minutes in, somehow finding a seam between two Oilers' players. The goal scorer? Ryan Garbutt. First star of this homestand?
And that goal was the cue for the game to finally pick up, with both teams playing a much more exciting brand of hockey. Even my friends' dog Jere couldn't take his eyes from the game, and he hasn't followed the Stars since his namesake retired. We had to explain hybrid icing to him, but he kept up pretty well.
The back and forth though unfortunately ended with the Oilers tying the game. The culprit? A defensive zone turnover, when clearing the zone shouldn't have been a problem. Sigh...
The Oilers are quite good at four on four. Luckily Kari was up to the task with a couple of big saves. More than a couple actually. Let's just say Kari earned his money in overtime.
And towards the end Garbutt had yet another chance to complete his hat trick. But no joy. To the shootout we go.
Jamie Benn takes us away, well, kind of. Pushing the limits of forward movement, and putting the puck into Dubnyk's pads.
Eberle followed, somehow sneaking the puck between Kari's skate and the pipe.
Peverley... is a shootout god. Fast in, slowed, deked, and lifted it right under the crossbar. 1-1.
Followed by Perron... who pulls a very similar move to Peverley, unfortunately with the same result.
And Chiasson, feeling the pressure, fails to get a shot off, losing it in front of Dubnyk.
The biggest takeaway tonight is that the Stars have got to start finishing their chances. A number of chances in the third could have had the Stars up by a couple of goals. Multiple times they went in alone on the Edmonton netminder, be it Bryzgalov or Dubnyk, but came away empty-handed. Of course, that's been a story of the homestand. If one were to take away the breakout period against the Ducks, the Stars have managed only 4 other goals over 8 periods of hockey. With good netminding that's enough to hang with teams, but not put them away. And the Oilers should have been put away.
The Stars outshot the Oilers 45-32. Out-Corsi'd them 76-68. Out-Fenwick'd them 55-48. Come on fancy stats! Show your predictive value!
Unsurprisingly, the absence of Stephane Robidas was noticeable. More so early on in the game when the play was impressively sloppy, but you can't lose a number one defenseman, and the minutes he plays, without feeling it. Having said that, Jamie Oleksiak was solid in his season debut. I didn't notice him through the first period, which I always take as a good sign for a defenseman, and he used his size to good effect throughout the game, as well as playing consistently, nothing flashy, but again, that's a good thing. He was somewhat culpable for the tying goal, but not horribly.
Can't say enough about Ryan Garbutt. The last few games have been impressive. His speed creates so many chances and that line is becoming a handful for the opposition. Unfortunately Garbutt took another penalty in the offensive zone in the third, leading to a late penalty kill for the Stars, but his game has definitely been an enjoyable one to watch recently.
The Stars powerplay? What powerplay? 0-4 on the night, and even more embarrassingly, with Garbutt's first goal, the Stars now have more shorthanded goals than powerplay goals at home.
To be fair though, the Oilers were 0-6 tonight. So the Stars did well on one side of special teams, outscoring Edmonton one-nil whilst on the penalty kill, but failing to capitalize on chances with the man advantage.
And that's where we stand. Four points out of a possible six on this homestand. Not terrible, but there's still the opportunity to cry over missed opportunities. I certainly will. As tight as the West is, letting those points slip away after holding third period leads is painful.