|Edmonton Oilers defender Denis Grebeshkov (37) battles Dallas Stars left wing Chris Conner (25) for the puck in the third period of a preseason NHL hockey game, Sunday, Oct. 5, 2008, in Dallas. Edmonton won the game 3-2. (AP Photo/Tim Sharp)
AT THE MORNING SKATE:
Two notable absences from the morning skate were Captain Ethan Moreau and Shawn Horcoff.
Moreau's infected ankle continues to plague him, and Head Coach Pat Quinn said the team leader is currently on an I.V.
"It's serious enough that it's infection, and I don't know if they've identified the strain or whatever it is, but they have him on I.V. and as long as that needle's in there, we're not going to put him on the ice."
To replace Moreau, Robert Nilsson enters back into the line-up for the first time this season. "I know what I'm supposed to do and I just have to focus on executing it, so I don't feel any extra pressure at all," the forward said.
"It's pretty clear he has a good skill level, and the scouting reports on him is that he is risky with his attack and that has some negative effects sometimes," Quinn said of Nilsson after practice. "But he got better as the camp went on ... After the three weeks, he maybe deserved to be in the starting line-up, but by the time we ended up going the way we did, he was out."
About his absence, Horcoff said "it really wasn't that big of a deal" and claimed that he simply chose to skip the morning skate.
Season series: The Stars and Oilers split the season series last season with each winning a pair of games at home. Dallas won 4-2 and 4-3 at American Airlines Center while the Oilers won 5-2 and 4-1 at Rexall Place.
Big Story: Edmonton will try to rebound from a brutal loss to arch-rival Calgary in its season opener. The Flames scored the winning goal on Nikolai Khabibulin, who ventured too far out of the net, with 48.7 seconds left to play. Meanwhile, Dallas lost in a shootout to Nashville, but came back from a 2-0 deficit to force the extra time and skills competition.
Stars: James Neal was hoping to build on his 24-goal rookie season from a year ago and he's off to a good start. The second-year forward scored both of Dallas' goals in its season-opening shootout loss to Nashville. The Stars may also have a rookie on their shutdown line tonight. Tom Wandell, who has 15 games of NHL experience, could replace Mike Modano (sore ribs), who has 1,401 games of NHL experience.
"It's a different role than I've probably played in the past," Wandell, who since 2006 has played in Finland, Sweden, Iowa and Dallas, told the Dallas Morning News. "But I think I've done enough of everything that I believe in myself, and believe I can handle it."
Oilers: Coach Pat Quinn is throwing Khabibulin right back out there after his last minute gaffe against Calgary cost the Oilers the game. Khabibulin has been inconsistent for the Oilers, but they signed him to a big contract over the summer and obviously one mistake and some inconsistent play won't drop him down the depth chart. The Oilers also have to deal with the fact that captain Ethan Moreau might not be able to go due to an infected ankle.
"The thing has flared up on him again," Quinn said according to the Edmonton Journal. "It's a cellulitis type of thing. There's no break or anything. It's just hot and fired up and swollen."
Who's Hot: Neal scored twice for the Stars in the season opener. Brad Richards had an assist and eight shots. Edmonton's Dustin Penner had a goal on four shots with an assist and a plus-2 rating against the Flames. Patrick O'Sullivan had a goal on six shots.
Injury Report: Modano's sore ribs could keep him out of tonight's game, making way for Wandell, a Swede who played mostly in his home country last season because Dallas didn't have an AHL affiliate. Jere Lehtinen has been hampered by hip and groin injuries that kept him out of the season opener. He's questionable for tonight. Edmonton could be without Moreau (infected left ankle). Marc Pouliot (inflamed pubic bone) practiced with the team Monday for the first time since getting hurt in a preseason game Sept. 24 against Tampa Bay. He remains on IR.
Stat Pack: Khabibulin is 5-2 with a 2.29 goals-against average in his last seven appearances against Dallas. … Edmonton struggled on the PK against Calgary, killing off just one of the Flames' three power plays. The PK was a problem last season when Edmonton finished 27th in the NHL (77.5 percent). … Marty Turco stopped 24 of 26 shots in the season-opening shootout loss to Nashville. … Dallas outshot Nashville, 40-26, and still lost. The Stars averaged 28.9 shots per game last season, good for just 22nd in the NHL.
Puck Drop: Tonight's game is the first of three straight for Dallas in Western Canada, where the Stars went just 2-4 last season. It's the second of four straight home games to start the season for the Oilers, who played at home just three times in the first 15 games last season.
-- Dan Rosen, NHL.com Staff Writer