Stars host Oilers, aim to rebound -- again -- from a Game 1 playoff defeat

League: NHL

Posted on: 24 May, 2024 at 10:45 PM

Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

A feeling of deja vu may be a huge saving grace for the Dallas Stars as they prepare to host Game 2 of the Western Conference final Saturday.

Coming off the 3-2 double-overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers in the opener Thursday, the Stars have been in this exact position often in the past - likely too often - and still managed to come out on top.

Dallas lost the first two games at home to the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round before winning that series in seven games, and then dropped the opener, also at home, against the Colorado Avalanche last round before taking that best-of-seven clash in six games.

The Stars have lost seven consecutive series-opening matchups, but won four of their previous six series.

"There's good character in this room and the understanding that it's not over," forward Joe Pavelski said after Friday's optional practice. "We've got to go do a job."

As disappointing as the loss is, the Stars do have reason for optimism, and not just because top-line center Roope Hintz may return from missing the past three games due to injury.

Dallas erased a two-goal deficit in Thursday's clash and came within a whisker of winning early in the first overtime when Jason Robertson rang a shot off the post.

Stars coach Pete DeBoer said not playing for nearly a week impacted his squad's execution in the early going and during its five fruitless power plays.

"We can adjust. I expect us to adjust," DeBoer said. "When our mindset gets to the right place, that will fix our power play."

That said, the Oilers have made their penalty killing a position of strength in the playoffs, no small feat for a club that has long been known for its offensive prowess.

Edmonton has snuffed 19 consecutive short-handed situations and killed 37 of 40 penalties this spring, an impressive 92.5 percent rate.

"The guys who are part of the penalty kill all the time, a big part of their identity has been established," Oilers defenseman Brett Kulak said. "they're very proud to go out on the ice and get the job done."

That penalty killing success is just another reason the Oilers believe they are just as worthy of being Cup champs. While it can be pointed out Edmonton won the opener thanks to goals by the team's offensive dynamos, Leon Draisaitl, Zach Hyman and Connor McDavid, this team has become very good at preventing opposition tallies.

The Oilers have surrendered 10 goals in their past five games.

"The three years I've been here, we've progressed and gotten better and better each year," Hyman said. "Every year, you learn what it takes and what you're not doing as well, right?

"Offensively, we've always been pretty good, but I think defensively, as a group, everybody's taken that next step."

The Oilers may also have a key veteran forward back in the lineup, Adam Henrique, who was injured in the final game of the opening-round series against the Los Angeles Kings.

Henrique played sparingly in Game 2 against the Vancouver Canucks last round, but coach Kris Knoblauch said Henrique could force him to make a change even after a victory.

"He hasn't played for a while, but a player like Adam would be a huge boost to our team," Knoblauch said. "It's something we have to decide."

-Field Level Media