DALLAS – James Neal shot the puck and then took a shot—one that knocked him to the ice so quickly he never saw the goal that put the Dallas Stars ahead. Then again, nobody else knew for sure it was in, either.
Neal’s shot from the middle of the right circle over the shoulder of Edmonton Oilers goalie Nikolai Khabibulin ricocheted out of the net so quickly and so far up the ice that play continued until the whistle finally blew for an apparent penalty midway through the third period.
Officials then looked at a video replay and awarded the goal.
“As soon as I got hit, I didn’t see where it ended up,” Neal said after the Stars’ 3-2 victory Tuesday night. “And there was no reaction from everybody, so we weren’t sure.”
Neal was knocked down by Jean-Francouis Jacques, and the whistle still hadn’t blown when he got back to his feet.
“It was difficult to see whether it was in. Half the guys on the bench said it was, and half of us thought it wasn’t,” Stars coach Marc Crawford said. “Thankfully, there was video review because it was in the back of the net.”
Crawford initially thought the puck went in, then wasn’t so sure when he saw a replay angle that made it appear that the puck hit the crossbar. But a view from overhead showed clearly that it was a goal.
“It was such a great shot,” said Oilers coach Tom Renney, who also thought the puck had hit the crossbar before seeing the replay.
Jamie Benn scored his third goal in two games for Dallas and captain Brenden Morrow also scored. After the Oilers scored twice in less than two minutes to tie it, Neal got his 16th of the season with 11:09 left.
Jamie Langenbrunner, reacquired last week from New Jersey, played his first home game for the Stars in nearly nine years. The right-wing was scoreless, but the crowd cheered loudly when he got in a fight late in the second period.
The Pacific Division-leading Stars had been 0-3-2 at home since a win over Montreal on Dec. 21. In that same span, they have set a franchise record with a seven-game road winning streak, including a 4-0 win Sunday at Minnesota when Benn scored twice.
Edmonton, which has won only one of its last 10 games (1-7-2), took a season-high 41 shots. Kari Lehtonen stopped 39 of them.
The Oilers finally scored on their 27th shot, with 14:10 left, when Jacques flicked a rebound up and over Lehtonen’s glove for his second goal of the season. On another rebound that the Stars failed to clear, Ryan Jones got his 10th goal of the season with 12:22 remaining.
“We continue to battle and show character,” Jones said. “That’s one thing I love about this team, that we play together and stick up for each other and battle for 60 minutes. At some point, this has to turn around.”
Benn’s goal Tuesday, his 12th of the season, came in the second period when he passed the puck to Steve Ott to his left. Ott then twisted his body and passed back to Benn, who knocked it in for a 2-0 lead.
Morrow got his 18th goal, matching Richards for the team lead, on a one-timer from Mike Ribeiro with 5:28 left in the first period.
“Their comeback to make it 2-2, it’s the first time in a while our team has been tested like that,” Crawford said. “We’ve been behind and tested to come back in games, but never when we had a lead and gave it up and then had to find somewhat of a surge like we did.”
Last-place New Jersey traded the 35-year-old Langenbrunner, its captain, to Dallas on Friday. Langenbrunner was drafted by the Stars in 1993 and was part of their only Stanley Cup championship in 1999, then another Western Conference title the following season. He was traded to New Jersey in 2002 and was on the Devils’ Stanley Cup-winning team in 2003.
Langenbrunner appeared on the ice for the first time about a minute into the game, getting a nice ovation. That turned into a loud cheer late in the second period when he and Kurtis Foster got tangled up and wrestled, though both got five-minute fighting penalties.
In the third period, Langenbrunner and Ladislav Smid got two-minute roughing penalties after a scuffle.
Both teams had apparent goals wiped out in the second because of interference against the goalies.
With about 13½ minutes left in the period, Foster knocked a puck in from the right circle, but officials quickly disallowed the goal because Linus Omark made contact in the crease with Lehtonen.
About 11 minutes later, Ott thought he had scored but officials ruled Adam Burish interfered with Khabibulin, who made 17 saves.
NOTES: Edmonton has not won in regulation at Dallas since Dec. 8, 2006. The Stars are 7-0-1 against the Oilers at home since then. … The Stars and Oilers played for the first time this season. They play four times in all, three of those games this month. … Dallas assigned RW Brandon Segal to the Texas Stars of the AHL after he cleared waivers Tuesday. He had been placed on waivers to make room on the roster for Langenbrunner.