MORNING SKATE REPORT: Oilers at Dallas
|TV: Sportsnet West (HD)
RADIO: 630 CHED & Oilers Radio Network
PUCK DROP: 6:38 p.m. MT
AT THE MORNING SKATEDALLAS, TX - After three days, the Oilers are ready to get back into game action with the second of nine straight games on the road.
Taylor Hall returns to the lineup after missing the past two with a suspension. He felt that the time off was a benefit but was still not happy to miss the time.
"Just being able to watch the game from that perspective and really see how much time you have out there and how important it really is to get shots on net, those sorts of things," said Hall. "Being able to watch the game up there was good. Being able to get a rest was good. It just sucked to be out for two games."
It's the first time in Hall's career that he was suspended.
"It's a weird feeling being out of a game when you're not hurt. Being healthy and being able to play is something that I'm not used to."
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said he was looking forward to seeing the return of his left winger.
"It's great to have him back, he's just such a spark plug. He gets the guys going and plays with so much passion out there. It definitely fires guys up," he said.
Head Coach Ralph Krueger was also looking forward to the return of Hall.
"He adds an amazing amount of pressure on the opposition's defence and on their defensive structure and of course on the power play," he said. "But five on five, more than anything, to have Nuge, Ebs and Hallsy back together gives us a real weapon here."
JONES SLIDES INTO THE SECOND LINE
Hall, Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle will make up the top line tonight. Ryan Jones moves onto line two to play with Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky.
"Ryan Jones has just coming in here and done the things we're asking for offensively. First of all, you find him around the blue paint multiple times in the first two games. You see him making good defensive decisions. He's bringing the puck to the net, creating pressure in that regard too so just pleased with his game."
Ryan Smyth will play with Nail Yakupov and Eric Belanger.
"With Smyth playing with Yakupov, there's a depth in our scoring potential five-on-five which is something we're striving for. But Jonesy really earned that position to start here with his simplicity."
The fourth line will be Ben Eager, Chris VandeVelde and Lennart Petrell which means Magnus Paajarvi will sit this one out.
"He's out of the lineup today. He's evolving here on a good path," said Krueger on Paajarvi. "I thought from the start of the season until now in this short period of time he's raised his value. He's been able to step into multiple roles for us. I'm telling him it's a numbers game right now. With Taylor coming in, we felt that this mix was the one for today."
STATUS QUO ON D
On defence, Mark Fistric will play with Corey Potter as he will face his old team for the first time in Texas. That means Ryan Whitney and Theo Peckham are out.
"More than anything, it's a compliment to the six defencemen right now. We know we have good competition there and we're happy with how that group performed the last two games so it's really more about the six guys that are in than the two that are out."
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
OILERS (7-7-4) at STARS (10-8-2)
NHL.COM GAME PREVIEW
TV: SNET-W, FS-SW
Last 10: Edmonton 3-4-3; Dallas 6-3-1
Season series: This is the third and final meeting between the teams in the regular season. The Stars have taken the first two meetings, including a 4-1 victory on Feb. 13 when Eric Nystrom, Brenden Dillon, Jaromir Jagr and Ryan Garbutt connected for goals and Kari Lehtonen made 35 saves. The Stars are 11-1-0 in their last 12 meetings with the Oilers.
Big story: Prior to Tuesday's overtime victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk acquired forward Erik Cole from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for forward Michael Ryder and a 2013 third-round draft pick. Cole, who has two years remaining on his contract that runs through the 2014-15 season, has three goals and six points in 19 games this season. Cole has a history with Stars left wing Ray Whitney, as the two spent five seasons together in Carolina.
Oilers: Left wing Taylor Hall will return to the lineup after serving his two-game suspension for a knee-on-knee hit against Cal Clutterbuck of the Minnesota Wild on Feb. 21. The Oilers are playing their second game of a nine-game road trip that began Monday with an overtime loss in Chicago. Jeff Petry and Nail Yakupov scored for Edmonton in the 3-2 loss to the Blackhawks. Nikolai Khabibulin made 31 saves in the loss, which coach Ralph Krueger considered a solid effort by his group.
"Big picture, it's an excellent point against the strongest team in the NHL right now," Krueger said. "Of course you feel pain, having the lead going into the third period. It's definitely something you dream and believe you can close it, but they really are an amazingly powerful team. They're very, very strong on the puck. They never let up at all."
Stars: Loui Eriksson scored 3:03 into overtime to give the Stars a 5-4 victory over the Blue Jackets on Tuesday at Nationwide Arena. Derek Roy, Antoine Roussel and Cody Eakin each had a goal and one assist and goalie Richard Bachman stopped 16 of 20 shots to earn his second victory in three games. Dallas was playing its first game without Ryder, its leading scorer who was earlier traded to the Canadiens for Cole. Cole was scheduled to arrive in Dallas on Wednesday to undergo a physical before joining the team.
Who's hot: Rookie Roussel has three goals and five points in the past five games for the Stars. … Edmonton rookie Yakupov, the first pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, has six goals and 11 points in 18 games this season.
Injury report: Lehtonen (groin) is probable, defensemen Philip Larsen (upper body) and Aaron Rome (foot) are questionable and Whitney (foot) is doubtful for the Stars. … The Oilers are without goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin (groin), defenceman Andy Sutton (knee) and forwards Shawn Horcoff (hand), Teemu Hartikainen (shoulder) and Anton Lander (foot).
-- Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer