EDMONTON – After another string of disappointing results, Edmonton Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini called out his team for its lacklustre play.
Captain Shawn Horcoff had a goal and two assists as the Oilers snapped a three-game losing skid with a 4-1 victory over the struggling Dallas Stars on Tuesday.
“It was important tonight to respond in front of our fans,” Horcoff said. “It was no secret we were challenged and the fans knew we’d been challenged. It’s important to show them what it’s going to be like here in the future.”
Jordan Eberle, Taylor Chorney and Ales Hemsky also scored for the last-place Oilers (17-32-8) who won for the first time their last eight attempts at home and for just the second time in their last nine games overall.
Edmonton goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin made 24 saves and snapped a lengthy 14-game losing streak.
“Khabibulin was good early and we needed him to be,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “He made some good saves and we fed off of that. Then our power play scores a goal and then all of a sudden you start to believe in yourself and what you are doing and why you do it.”
Loui Eriksson scored the lone goal for the Stars (31-20-6), who have just two wins in their last seven outings.
“We’re frustrated,” said Dallas captain Brenden Morrow. “It hasn’t been a good run for us. Every day we say the right things, we talk about the right things, we have meetings on top of meetings, and then we come out in the game and fall behind.
“I can’t remember the last time we played with a lead. It’s tough to win when you are always fighting back.”
Dallas is now 1-5-1 since the all-star break with the rest of the Western Conference playoff hopefuls making up significant ground.
“I don’t think we have been playing at the level we can,” said Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen. “We have some guys hurt, but I think we still have a much better team than we have showed the last couple games. It’s a very important part of the season and we want to get wins.”
Both goaltenders made big stops early. Khabibulin made a quick kick save off Morrow as the Stars captain finished a two-on-one. Lehtonen quickly followed, stoning Hemsky on a clear-cut breakaway attempt.
Edmonton opened the scoring with just two minutes left in the first period as Sam Gagner showed some deft puck handling behind the net before putting a backhand pass out front to Eberle, who scored his 12th of the season.
The Oilers outshot Dallas 11-7 in the first period, significant as they only had 12 shots total in Sunday’s 4-0 loss to Anaheim.
Edmonton went up 2-0 eight minutes into the second with a rare power-play goal. Chorney, a recent call-up, scored his first career NHL goal on a bullet of a shot from the edge of the circle.
“To come home like that and score your first NHL goal and have the crowd go nuts like that was something special,” Chorney said.
It was Edmonton’s first power play goal in 26 attempts and just fourth in 84 man advantages.
Dallas pulled back to within one on a power play with three and a half minutes left in the second period. Eriksson split the defence and then slid a backhand through Khabibulin’s legs to make it 2-1.
The Oilers made it 3-1 on another power play goal with two minutes left in the second. Hemsky fed the puck in front for Horcoff, who directed it past Lehtonen. Horcoff was in the lineup after missing the last two games with bronchitis.
Hemsky atoned for his breakaway miss early in the game just 28 seconds into the third, scoring his 10th of the year to put Edmonton ahead 4-1.
The Stars play next in Calgary on Wednesday while the Oilers host the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.
Notes: It was the fourth and final meeting of the season between the two teams. Dallas came in winning five straight against Edmonton and 13 of the last 17 matchups…The Stars were without leading scorer Brad Richards for the game, out with an undisclosed injury suffered late in Sunday’s game against Columbus…Dallas defenceman Niklas Grossman, who was also injured against the Blue Jackets, missed the game with a groin injury…Chorney suited up for Edmonton in place of Jeff Petry who went the other way when Chorney was called up from Oklahoma City on Monday…The Stars failed in their attempt at winning their 700th game since relocating from Minnesota to Dallas prior to the 1993-94 season.