NHL: Stars reset, host Oilers after missed opportunity

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Doom and gloom? Not for the Dallas Stars as they return home to host the Edmonton Oilers in Game 5 of their Western Conference final series Friday night.

The Stars are disappointed in how they surrendered five unanswered goals Wednesday en route to a 5-2 loss in Game 4. Losing is one thing, but blowing an early two-goal edge is at another level.

Still, the series is tied 2-2 as it resumes, essentially making it a best-of-three affair to reach the Stanley Cup Final.

“For this group, it’s just reset,” Stars forward Joe Pavelski said. “It’s not supposed to be easy right now. Teams are playing hard, fighting for their lives. We all understand how close we are getting to the next round.”

Make no mistake about it, the Stars would dearly love to have built on their 2-0 edge and have the Oilers on the brink of elimination. How that game was lost is moot once the puck drops in Dallas.

In a wildly entertaining series, the Stars completed a similar comeback in their Game 3 victory, and they were able to be philosophical about what transpired in the last outing.

“There’s a lot of good teams in this league,” captain Jamie Benn said. “They’re a good team and we feel we’re a good team and that’s why we play 60 minutes.

“They had a strong effort. They got it done. We’ll move on and get ready for the next one.”

Stars head coach Peter DeBoer on Friday morning labeled defenseman Chris Tanev as a game-time decision.

DeBoer said he is “optimistic” that Tanev will play on Friday night after the latter was injured while blocking a shot by Edmonton forward Evander Kane with his lower right leg midway into the second period on Wednesday. He did not return to the game.

While the Stars look to rebound, the Oilers’ task will be to build off a comeback victory. Although their performance was not perfect, Edmonton has many reasons to feel positive.

“Every win gives you a little bit more belief,” forward Leon Draisaitl said. “We know how good we can be, and when we put everything together, we’re a really hard team to beat.”

On top of netting five goals, the Oilers continued their perfect penalty kill play — a run of 23 clean short-handed situations over the past eight games — while also clamping down defensively in the third period against a Dallas squad that had drummed up its share of comebacks during this playoff run.

“We took a (third-period) penalty, and this is their opportunity to get back in the game,” Edmonton coach Kris Knoblauch said. “It’s their opportunity to make it 4-3 with plenty of time left on the clock, and we come up with another kill.

“No matter who we’ve had in the lineup, we’ve had a lot of guys in and out as those penalty killers, but everyone’s stepped up and taken a lot of pride in that job.”

Knoblauch also showed a magic touch with his roster moves prior to Game 4, inserting forwards Corey Perry and Ryan McLeod for Warren Foegele and Sam Carrick and also dressed defenseman Philip Broberg in place of Vincent Desharnais. McLeod’s first-period goal, set up by Perry, kicked off the comeback.

“When you do get pulled out of the lineup, it’s a tough pill to swallow, but you put that aside and when you get your name called again you come in and you work hard,” Perry said.

“I think for myself and ‘Clouder (McLeod),’ it was about being hard on the puck and winning battles, and that’s what we were trying to do.”

–Field Level Media

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