Ales Hemsky broke the shutout 8:21 into the third, but a goal in each period by the visitors and three-point nights by Michael Ryder and Mike Ribeiro pushed the Dallas Stars to a 3-1 win over the Oilers on Wednesday night at Rexall Place.
Kari Lehtonen got the nod in goal for the Stars, posting 31 saves on the Oilers' 32 shots.
Both teams came out with purpose in the game's opening four minutes, registering a shot in each minute at both ends. The home side got the period's best chance when Ryan Whitney unleashed a point shot -- it was stopped by Kari Lehtonen, but he kicked the rebound into the slot where Ben Eager pounced on the opportunity. His quick-strike attempt was also kicked out by the goalie's left pad.
Just inside the Stars blueline on an offensive pinch, Andy Sutton hacked Steve Ott's stick in two, resulting a slashing minor and the game's first power-play at 6:37. It was the Oilers who got the advantage's best opportunities, however. With 1:05 gone in the 5-on-4, Ryan Smyth and Nick Schultz burst up ice on an odd-man break. No. 94 slid a pass across to the club's newest rearguard, but his one-time shot was blocked by Lehtonen's right pad with a dazzling athletic display.
The rest of the penalty was killed off, too.
With 8:07 to play and on the Stars' ninth shot, it became a 1-0 game. Michael Ryder challenged the Oilers with speed, breaking through and dancing around a flat-footed Jeff Petry in the middle before sliding the puck past Devan Dubnyk at 11:53.
Making matters worse, Shawn Horcoff was assessed a boarding minor with 6:49 to play in the period. Without allowing a single shot, however, the Oilers maintained the one-goal disadvantage with a another successful kill.
With 2:29 on the clock, Smyth's pinpoint passing continued as he set up Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with a tip attempt at the doorstep. While the rookie knocked it out of mid-air, Lehton was equal to the task in denying the opportunity.
After 20 minutes, the Stars continued to lead 1-0 and were in possession of a slim 13-12 edge in shots.
The Stars extended to a 2-0 lead on their first shot of the period. 5:05 in, Loui Eriksson and Mike Reibeiro orchestrated a 2-on-1 to perfection, passing back and forth before No. 63 rifled it home past a sprawling Dubnyk.
Ryder was charged with tripping at 8:25, putting the Oilers on their first power-play of the night. The home side was unable to generate much of consequence, however, keeping the game in a 2-0 score as the 10-minute mark passed in a sputtering middle period.
With 5:11 to play and with the Oilers up by a 21-17 shot margin, the Oilers went back to the power-play when Eriksson was assesed a hooking minor. After killing the penalty, the Stars countered and nearly went up 3-0. Following a netural zone turnover, Ryder was sprung on a breakaway; Dubnyk challenged and made a brilliant blocker side to preserve the current score.
Just as the clock (nearly) stuck zero, the penalty box doors continued to swing when Horcoff was called for hooking.
With only three seconds remaining in the captain's minor, Jordan Eberle rushed up ice on a breakaway. With a quick, backhand-forehand deke, he appeared to have the goalie solved; but with a post-to-post splits-like action, Lehtonen got the pad on it to stop the puck along the goal line, saving a sure goal.
At 4:11, Petry and Corey Potter struggled to gain possesion in order to clear the zone. That cost the Oilers, as Ribeiro and Ryder connected once more with a beautiful, one-touch pass at the crease's lip. Dallas' No. 73 connected, redirecting the pass past a defenceless Dubnyk for the Stars' third tally.
Alex Goligoski was charged with hooking 40 seconds later, putting the Oilers on their third power-play chance of the night.That, too, came and went without a goal as the orange and blue's attack fell silent.
Only for moments, mind you. With 11:39 to play, the Oilers got on the board. Corey Potter bulleted a point shot wide of the target, but Ales Hemsky slid home the end-board rebound past a sprawling Lehtonen to bring the home side within two.
While the Oilers had gained all the momentum, a dive by Vern Fiddler upon a touch by Ryan Whitney put the visitors back on the man-advantage with 7:10 on the clock. Fortunately, the Oilers were able to come up with a kill (their fourth of the night, keeping a perfect PK percentage) to give themselves a chance in the game's latter stages.
Eager to earn the equalizer, the Oilers pulled Dubnyk with 1:20 to play. But it didn't help, as the Stars cruised to the horn in a 3-1 win over the home side.
-- Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com - Follow me on Twitter | @ryandittrick