It was a big game by Jamie Benn, Mike Ribeiro. and Loui Eriksson, who helped lead the Stars past some defensive miscues in the second period -- and a few questionable hits. The Stars overall played a great game and took advantage of a poor defensive team in the Oilers, as only a monstrous game from Nikolai Khabibulin kept the score from getting out of hand. The Stars used another big third period performance to overwhelm the young Oilers team, who were without Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and lost Jordan Eberle in the first period with a knee injury.
Steve Ott, along with Andy Sutton, will likely get calls from Brenden Shanahan for separate checks to the head -- if the Bruins game doesn't keep him too busy.
Richard Bachman played well in an unexpected start, although he wasn't tested much as the game progressed. Kari Lehtonen was feeling under the weather, as the flu has been going around the team lately. No worries about the groin, as previously thought.
The Stars controlled the play for most of the game and aside from a period of about ten minutes in the second were able to once again show good offensive balance across four lines. Mike Ribeiro left the game briefly after a knee-on-knee hit but returned and played fine, especially with Loui Eriksson turning on his own version of the Jamie Benn beast mode. Ribeiro would later score a goal of his own off a pinball of a centering pass from behind the net, as well as the empty-netter.
More thoughts on the game after the jump.
- After Jordan Eberle left the game in the first period with a knee injury, the Oilers were completely outmatched by a Dallas Stars team that is feeling comfortable with three full lines right now. Aside from a fluky bounce in the first period and some struggles by the Stars in the second, the Oilers never showed much threat to Dallas offensively. It was Khabibulin, who made several big saves on odd-man rushes in throughout the game, that led to the Oilers still being close in the game until the third period.
- Despite talk about the strong performance by the Stars, the game was tied 1-1 headed into the third period with Dallas failing to connect on several prime scoring chances in the first 40 minutes. The Stars enjoyed an incredible amount of odd-man rushes throughout the game but failed to connect on any of them, leading to some frustrations in the second period. It wasn't until Benn's goal late in the second that the Stars regained the confidence they started the game with.
- Speaking of Jamie Benn, the powerful center seems to finally have grown comfortable in his role, While the points have been there, the past few weeks has been the first time this season we've really started to see the potential he has for this team. With 17 points (6-11-17) in his past 11 games, Benn has suddenly exploded offensively while also improving defensively as well. Gulutzan mentioned after the game that the Stars are trying to get him more minutes, and it's obviously working.
- It will be interesting to see how the the NHL responds to a couple of hits in this game. Steve Ott was called for a check to the head when he threw his shoulder into Anton Lander's head. It looked on replay like Lander turned into Ott at the last second, who said after the game that his head was fine. The Oilers, meanwhile, made it known after the game they felt Ott was deserving of a "rest" for the hit.
If the Oilers are going to campaign against Ott, then it's likely the Stars will do the same thing for Andy Sutton's elbow to the head of Loui Eriksson. While there was no penalty called -- and Eriksson was not injured -- it was an obvious elbow strike directly to the helmet of Eriksson, who also turned into the hit at the last second.
- Tied 1-1 after two periods, the Stars roared into the third and dominated the Oilers, who went 1-6-0 on their road trip that ended in Dallas. The Stars scored three goals and outshot the Oilers 16-8 in the final frame, and dominated possession of the puck for most of the period. With the Oilers pressing hard trying to the tie the game the Stars enjoyed several 2-on-1 chances, but failed to connect, hitting the post twice.
- Overall, it was a solid performance for the Stars against another struggling team and the Stars continue to enjoy success with their revamped line combinations.
17:19 EDM TAYLOR HALL (14) WRIST - ASST: S. GAGNER (15) AND L. SMID (4)
14:39 DAL JAMIE BENN (12) WRIST - ASST: T. DALEY (12) AND L. ERIKSSON (22)
07:03 DAL JAMIE BENN (13) WRIST - ASST: A. BURISH (7) AND T. WANDELL (7)
13:39 DAL MIKE RIBEIRO (9) BACKHAND - ASST: L. ERIKSSON (23)
18:46 DAL EN - MIKE RIBEIRO (10) WRIST - ASST: B. MORROW (12) AND L. ERIKSSON (24)
13:04 EDM SAM GAGNER : DELAYING GAME-PUCK OVER GLASS - 2 MIN
06:10 DAL STEVE OTT : FIGHTING (MAJ) - 5 MIN
06:10 EDM JOSH GREEN : FIGHTING (MAJ) - 5 MIN
06:10 DAL STEVE OTT SERVED BY TOM WANDELL : ILLEGAL CHECK TO HEAD - 2 MIN
09:02 EDM TAYLOR HALL : HOLDING - 2 MIN
01:45 DAL JAKE DOWELL : TOO MANY MEN/ICE - BENCH - 2 MIN