The Dallas Stars continued their Northwestern swing of North America on Tuesday against the Edmonton Oilers. At the beginning of the season this was just an ordinary match-up against Edmonton and the first game of a back-to-back, but as of November 20th, it became Dallas’ first game against their old coach, Ken Hitchcock.
Martin Hanzal joined the team on the road and participated in full team practice, taking rushes as a ‘5th line’ with Gemel Smith and Brett Ritchie. While Anton Khudobin was in net on Tuesday, his third straight start, Ben Bishop is expected to return soon as he too was a full participant during Tuesday’s morning skate. Jim Montgomery also moved Jason Spezza to the half wall position on the second powerplay unit, with Devin Shore taking his place on the top unit.
In what was Htichcock’s home debut in Edmonton, the Stars held a fairly even game against the Oilers. Full of give-and-go hockey, countless near-misses, and heart-stopping moments, a goalie duel and overtime ultimately sealed Dallas’ fate against Edmonton.
The action started early in the first frame, with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins shoving not only the puck but also Khudobin into the net just over 30 seconds in, but it was deemed no good after a review. This set the pace for the rest of the period, in which the Oilers had complete control.
The Stars looked tired and sloppy, not able to keep possession of the puck, and gave Edmonton one too many chances generate shots. The Oilers kept up the attack but Khudobin held down the fort, making 13 saves in the period. If anything, it seemed like the Stars were getting beat at their own style of play.
Dallas had the first shot at the powerplay of the night, but weren’t able to capitalize. Even with the changes to the units, the Stars just couldn’t seem to get a flow going, giving the puck away more often than not and allowing Edmonton shorthanded chances on net. The powerplay performance unfortunately looked like it has so far already this season, underwhelming and predictable.
As with the shot generation and puck possession, the Stars trailed Oilers in the faceoff circle, winning only 32% to Edmonton’s 68%. And just who you all expected: Jason Dickinson and Valeri Nichushkin led the team in shots on goal with 2 each.
Score: DAL 0, EDM 0
Shots: DAL 7, EDM 13
As we’ve seen lately, the tide turned to the Stars favor in the second, with Dallas immediately playing more aggressively, leading the forecheck, and keeping possession of the puck. Mattias Janmark had the early chance for Dallas but couldn’t pot it in. From there on, the Stars hemmed the Oilers in, keeping Edmonton’s high danger shots from reaching the net for the first half of the frame.
The Stars were awarded with another powerplay, one which looked more organized than the last but still as ineffective. The Oilers had another few shorthanded chances as well, but Khudobin and the defense stood tall.
Midway through the period, Dallas headed to the penalty kill. The Stars were solid, with Khudobin tracking really well and both units keeping the Oilers from getting on the board. Blake Comeau had a brilliant shift, streaking down to the Oilers end for a shorthanded shot, and when his own missed, he set up Miro Heiskanen for a dangerous chance that Edmonton’s Mikko Koskinen just barely got a piece of.
In the late stages of the period, the Oilers found the gas again but the Stars held on to keep up the even play. Both teams traded dangerous shots, the puck cycling from end-to-end. Captain Jamie Benn had a huge chance and not too long after Heiskanen had another, with Janmark providing the drive-by screen. With 1:25 left, Khudobin made a stretch pass to Tyler Seguin, who fired it on net, but Koskinen was up to the task.
In the last minute of the period, Dallas once again found themselves on the penalty kill, with Janmark sitting for interference against Connor McDavid. Khudobin and the special teams units kept the Oilers from scoring, leaving 1:11 of the penalty kill to roll over into the third.
Score: DAL 0, EDM 0
Shots: DAL 12, EDM 13
Dallas was successful in killing the leftover penalty from the second, keeping Edmonton from making a single shot. Directly after, Seguin had a dangerous shot that went just wide of the Oilers net.
Once again, the Stars held control of the pace of play to start, keeping on the pressure and leading the forecheck. Both teams battled, cycling from end-to-end again, but neither could find a way to get on the board.
Midway through the period, the play was dead even. No score, with Dallas registering just 3 shots on goal to Edmonton’s 2. The tide in the faceoff circled calmed as well, with the Stars climbing to 48% to the Oilers 52%.
Inside 4 minutes left in regulation, the sense of urgency rose in what had become a duel between goalies. The third frame ended with no score through sixty minutes of play.
Score: DAL 0, EDM 0
Shots: DAL 6, EDM 4
The Stars first unit for the 3-on-3 overtime was loaded with Jason Dickinson (who has ended a few Dallas games as the OT hero), Esa Lindell, and Heiskanen. Just under two minutes in, McDavid and Leon Draisaitl streaked down to the Stars end, with a McDavid shot trickling just past Khudobin that almost looked like it was in. Luckily, Gavin Bayreuther was there to save the day, slapping the puck out from behind Khudobin and out of danger.
After the McDavid kerfuffle, Seguin took a shift with Lindell and Bayreuther, creating two dangerous chances just shy of going in.
In a moment of give-and-go, Draisaitl made a cross-ice pass to Oscar Klefbom, who potted it in to win it for Edmonton 1-0.
Final Score: DAL 0, EDM 1
Final Shots: DAL 28, EDM 31
The Stars will play the second game of their back-to-back tomorrow, Wednesday, November 28th at 8 p.m. CDT against the Calgary Flames.