The Edmonton Oilers, off to a surprisingly slow 2-5-1 start, begin a five-game homestand when they host the Dallas Stars on Thursday. Edmonton completed a 1-1-1 road trip with a 2-1 overtime loss at two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh on Tuesday as the Oilers continue to struggle offensively by scoring an NHL-worst 1.88 goals per game.
“We just have to relax. Just calm down,” Oilers captain Connor McDavid, who leads the team with four goals and nine points, told reporters. “I mean, we’re getting these chances in front of the net that should be automatic and we’re not scoring them. Myself included. So we have to get better in that area. ...” Dallas is coming off a 5-3 loss at Colorado on Tuesday in which coach Ken Hitchcock pulled No. 1 goaltender Ben Bishop in favor of backup Kari Lehtonen after he allowed three goals on 14 shots. “It has nothing to do with Ben Bishop. It has to do with wake up, let’s get playing, which is exactly what we did,” Hitchcock told reporters. “... I’ll do the same with any other goaltender. If I think it’s going to help the team to change their mindset, I’ve got to do whatever it takes. So that’s what I did.” Edmonton won the final two meetings last season by a combined 12-3 with defenseman Oscar Klefbom scoring in each game and McDavid recording four goals in the pair of contests including a hat trick, bringing his career totals versus the Stars to five goals and an assist in four games.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, FSN Southwest Plus (Dallas), Sportsnet West (Edmonton)
ABOUT THE STARS (5-4-0): Jamie Benn (team-high 11 points) recorded a goal and two assists Tuesday, giving him three goals and four assists in the last three contests. Tyler Seguin (club-most six goals, 10 points) registered a pair of assists versus Colorado and has four goals and four assists during a five-game point streak. Defenseman Stephen Johns (goal, three points, plus-2 this season) left Tuesday’s contest after the first period with a concussion and will likely miss Thursday’s game.
ABOUT THE OILERS (2-5-1): Edmonton on Tuesday welcomed the return of Leon Draisaitl (goal, three points in four games), who missed the previous four games with a concussion. Patrick Maroon, second on the club with six points, joins Ryan-Nugent Hopkins and Mark Letestu as the only Oilers other than McDavid with more than one goal (two apiece). Cam Talbot (2-4-1, 2.79 goals-against average, .915 save percentage), who stopped 42 shots Tuesday, is expected to make his fourth straight start in goal.
1. Dallas is 2-for-14 on the power play in its last five games after going 4-for-12 in its first four contests and is 30-for-33 on the penalty kill this season.
2. Edmonton D Eric Gryba and RW Zack Kassian, who lead the club in penalty minutes with 16 and 15, respectively, are the only Oilers with a plus rating at plus-1.
3. Bishop is 5-1-0 with a 2.38 GAA and .920 SP while Lehtonen is 0-3-0, 4.00, .851.
PREDICTION: Oilers 3, Stars 2