EDMONTON - Some nights the puck doesn't bounce your way and it seems like no matter what you try, the goalie at the other end will have an answer for it anyway.
This was one of those nights for the Edmonton Oilers. And Kari Lehtonen was that for the visiting Dallas Stars in a 4-1 win Tuesday night at Rexall Place. Dallas scored go-ahead goal 44 seconds into the third and didn't look back.
"The result is painful to look at," said a disappointed Head Coach Ralph Krueger post-game. "We tried and went back to some complicated habits in the third and deserted what had made us successful to that point. The amount of shots on goal and the opportunities we had to score, you've got to complicate Lehtonen."
In all, the Oilers peppered the Stars netminder with 36 shots (their second-highest output of the season). Perhaps it was karma or the Hockey Gods getting even for Sunday's 3-1 win -- a game in which Devan Dubnyk stole the show, stealing the victory with 39 saves while his club could only muster 14 in a one-sided contest against the Blue Jackets.
Dubnyk was great once again, but his 25 saves weren't enough.
"Obviously that wasn't a 4-1 game, but that's what the score ended up being," said the netminder. "It's frustrating when we played as well as we did to get a couple bounces like that. Nothing you can do about it now."
"We probably deserved this fate," said Jordan Eberle, who's now gone eight games without a goal. "I don't think we played nearly as well (in Columbus) as we could have and snuck out with a win we didn't really deserve.
"It was the opposite tonight."
The Oilers got on the board at 12:59. Taylor Hall slalomed his way past Loui Eriksson through the neutral zone and in across the blue. With defencemen Stephane Robidas and Brenden Dillon to beat, Hall elected to shoot. A wise choice it was, as No. 4's wicked wrist shot screamed past Kari Lehtonen.
The Oilers surpassed their shot total from Sunday's win over the Blue Jackets (14) when the club registered its 15th attempt with 15:10 to play in the second period. The orange and blue were committed to putting the puck on net, tallying 11 shots in the first period, 16 in the second and nine in the third.
"You've got to look at the positives," said Eberle. "We played well, but at the end of the day, we need points in the standings and we didn't get any."
The Oilers have four games left on their five-game homestand (Colorado, Los Angeles, Minnesota and Phoenix) before embarking on their season-high nine-game road trip while the Tim Hortons Brier takes over at Rexall Place.
"We've got to focus on this homestand. It's a huge point and we have to look ahead," said Eberle. "You don't want to look at the big picture but right now we have to. We need some points on this homestand."
"We've got to keep the big picture small," added Krueger. "We can't look beyond our three-game segments. We've got four games in a row at home and need points here."
Dallas brought the game back on even terms 4:32 into the second on one of the luckiest goals you'll ever see. Dillon's point shot deflected off Lennart Petrell and well wide, but the puck then bounce off the dasher where the boards meet the glass, up in the air, off Dubnyk's back and across the line.
With 10 seconds left in the second period, the Oilers nearly cashed the go-ahead goal when the reunited top line electrified the crowd with an incredible scoring chance. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins dished to Jordan Eberle in the slot and, with nothing but a phone booth with which to stickhandle in, No. 14 dangled to his backhand and was denied by the heroic effort of Lehtonen's outstretched right pad.
It was the turning point.
Forty-four seconds into the third, Dallas took a 2-1 lead on another fortunate bounce. A long-range wrist shot by Eric Nystrom redirected ever-so-slightly off Nugent-Hopkins' stick, handcuffing Dubnyk as it popped off his mask and in.
Dallas wasn't done. An ill-advised neutral zone turnover by Nail Yakupov with 4:35 to play allowed Jaromir Jagr to burst back and snipe a shot past Dubnyk to seal the outcome.
Ryan Garbutt scored another 1:52 later put the Stars up 4-1.
The Oilers will get the day off Wednesday but will return to the ice for practice on Thursday and Friday in preparation for Saturday's game against the Phoenix Coyotes.
-- Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com | Follow me on Twitter @ryandittrick