|The Edmonton Oilers win 3-2 as center Patrick O'Sullivan scores the first goal of the shootout against Dallas Stars goalie Marty Turco in the overtime period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Ralph Lauer)
AT THE MORNING SKATE:
The Oilers held an optional morning skate Friday morning, with only about a dozen players taking to the ice.
One of those players was defenceman Sheldon Souray, who did not practice Thursday. After the skate, Souray said that the team needs to build on Wednesday's positive performance vs Vancouver. The Oilers outshot the Canucks 33-29 held the lead for most of the game, but eventually lost 3-2 in overtime.
"I thought we deserved a better outcome, but that's okay," Souray said. "We're going to keep on improving on what we're trying to build here and we feel good about ourselves after the effort we gave last game."
Aiming for the Stars
Dallas is also coming off a game vs. the Canucks -- a 4-3 regulation loss last night in Vancouver. During his morning press conference, Head Coach Pat Quinn said that the Oilers need to take advantage of their tired opponents and keep the pressure on through the full 60 minutes.
"We've had some strong starts against some teams that have been coming in off a game when they're tired, but what we haven't done is be able to sustain it," Quinn said. "It seemed like we were the ones that fell off in the third period for whatever reason."
In addition to a 60-minute effort, Associate Coach Tom Renney wants to see the Oilers disrupt Stars goalie Marty Turco.
"He's a heck of a competitor, a great guy, and he's going to want to really make sure that everybody in this league understands he's the number one goaltender," Renney said. "So we certainly want to get to him, don't let him handle the puck, make life miserable for him."
Dallas is winless in 10 road games, a fact that isn't lost on Souray or the other Oilers, but the veteran defenceman emphasized that his club is in no position to take anyone lightly.
"I don't think we're worried about anyone else who's coming in here, or what their records are," Souray said. "We've had a pretty tough go obviously the last couple of months, so we're just going to worry about the way we're playing and the things we need to get the win here tonight."
Quinn was also realistic about tonight's battle.
"There's some reason to hope for this team, maybe not to suddenly have miracles that put us right back in the hunt, but certainly to get a better result than we've been getting at the end of the night," the coach said. "We'll hopefully be prepared to play against a team that certainly is a hard-working club but you know has got some holes in it as well."
Dubnyk & Chorney in, Staios & Smid out
One reason for hope for the Oilers may be goaltender Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk will make his fourth start in the last five games tonight, and Quinn praised the 6'5" goalie's size, skills, and heart.
"[Oilers management] thought Dubnyk had a good future in front of him: size, athletic skill, the kind of thing that attracts people that believe if he learns more and more about this game he could be a real good player. They drafted what I think is a good athlete.
"One of the things goaltenders have to do is have that iron in their heart, because if they are this kind of a goaltender, generally their play is the same," Quinn continued. " I see good things in this young man, and he fights back if it's not going (his way)."
Dubnyk will be joined by former Springfield Falcons teammate Taylor Chorney tonight. The young defenceman arrived in Edmonton early this afternoon and will fill the gap left by injuries to Steve Staios and Ladslav Smid.
STARS (21-18-11) at OILERS (16-27-6)
Last 10 -- Dallas 3-7-0; Edmonton 1-7-2
Season series -- The teams are meeting for the third time this season. Edmonton has won the first two in shootouts -- 5-4 at home on Oct. 6 and 3-2 in Dallas on Dec. 5. The Oilers have won four of the last five meetings.
Big story -- The Oilers have yet to win in 2010; they've gone 0-7-2 since a 3-1 win over Toronto in their next-to-last game of 2009. This could be their best chance -- the Stars are among the NHL's weakest road teams at 7-13-6 and are coming off a tough 4-3 loss at Vancouver on Thursday. Edmonton played perhaps its best game of the season on Wednesday and got its first point in six games despite losing 3-2 to Vancouver in overtime. But the Oilers are still 1-14-2 in their last 17 games.
Stars -- Whether it's the white jerseys, the hotels, the food -- whatever the reason, the Stars are a completely different team on the road than they are at the AmericanAirlinesCenter. They fell to 0-8-2 in their last 10 games away from home with the loss at Vancouver on Thursday.
"We've been stressing taking positives from games, and for a large part of the game we had the effort we needed, and were playing like we wanted. Then we let it slip," goaltender Alex Auld said. "We have to keep learning from these things and move on. We have to get better."
They'd better do it soon -- the Stars are now 10th in the West, five points out of the last playoff spot with a game at Colorado on Sunday before they return home.
Oilers -- The bag skate ordered by coach Pat Quinn after Monday's horror show in Colorado appeared to have some impact against the Canucks -- the Oilers played their best game in quite a while despite the overtime loss.
"We had a lot of passion and intensity, we played the game the right way," said forward Sam Gagner, who scored the game's first goal. "Now we have to regroup and use our anger the right way and be better."
Who's hot -- Dallas forward Loui Eriksson has scored goals in his last three games. Forward Toby Peterson scored his sixth goal of the season against the Canucks, two more than he had all last season. … Patrick O'Sullivan has four points in the Oilers' last five games.
Injury report -- Dallas captain Brenden Morrow has missed the Stars' last two games with an upper-body injury. Forward Tom Wandell left in the third period on Thursday and is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury. … Steve Staios hasn't played since Saturday due to a combination of the flu and a hit to the head, and Ladislav Smid likely won't play after taking a big hit in the loss to the Canucks. Taylor Chorney has been called up. Center Mike Comrie, who's been out since mid-November with mononucleosis, has started to skate again.
Stat pack -- Dallas hasn't won in regulation on the road since Nov. 19 in Detroit; the Stars are 1-10-3 away from home since then -- the one win was an 11-round shootout victory in San Jose last month. … Penalty-killing continues to be a problem for the Oilers. Vancouver was 3-for-4 on the power play on Wednesday, and Edmonton is 29th on the penalty kill at just 74.1 percent.
Puck drop -- Something has to give -- either the Stars are going to end their road woes or the Oilers are going to get their first win of the new year.