After a pair of brutal road games, the Dallas Stars return home trying to avoid entering the All-Star break on a three-game losing streak.
Facing the Western Conference-worst Edmonton Oilers for the third time this month could help.
The Pacific Division-leading Stars look to beat the Oilers for the fifth straight time Wednesday night when the teams meet for the second time in less than a week.
Dallas (29-15-5) remains one point behind Detroit for second in the Western Conference despite struggling in its last two games. After going 7-0-1 in their first eight games of the new year including a 4-2 win at Edmonton on Thursday to open a three-game road trip, the Stars dropped the last two on their trip by a combined score of 14-5.
Dallas had given up 13 goals in the previous eight games, but backup Andrew Raycroft(notes) allowed seven on 19 shots against Calgary on Friday. Kari Lehtonen(notes) returned to the net Monday, but gave up seven more goals on 33 shots before being pulled with less than seven minutes remaining in a 7-1 loss to Vancouver.
The seven goals allowed matched a career high for Lehtonen, who had gone 6-0-1 with a 1.70 goals-against average in his previous seven starts.
“He has been, if not our MVP, largely responsible for our resurgence,” coach Marc Crawford said. “He didn’t have a great night (Monday) but we didn’t give him any help. (Monday) was a total team collapse. As a head coach, we obviously didn’t have them ready to play (Monday), that’s my fault. It’s humbling, and by some small measure, maybe, it puts us back in our place.”
Lehtonen, who has given up two goals in each of Dallas’ two wins against Edmonton (15-25-8) this month, is expected to start again Wednesday.
“We’re all going to bounce back,” said center Brad Richards(notes), who has 15 points over his last 10 games with a goal in each of the last two. “If not, we’re going to have to find a different job. We’ll take it in the chin tonight but we’ll be back.”
While Dallas is looking to avoid matching its longest losing streak of the season, set on two other occasions, Edmonton snapped a five-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory over Phoenix on Tuesday.
“We don’t get down,” coach Tom Renney said. “The one thing we haven’t done this year is quit on ourselves, look at the scoreboard and feel sorry for ourselves. We keep playing.”
The win was only the third for the Oilers in their last 17 games. Edmonton also scored more than two goals for the first time in six games.
The Oilers have lost two straight in Dallas and are 1-6-1 in their last eight visits.