Less complaining and more shots may have helped the Edmonton Oilers.
Edmonton, which boasts the NHL's top-ranked power play, didn't have a single man advantage in a 3-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on Friday.
Oilers head coach Tom Renney said his own team's whining about potential infractions isn't helping them get many calls.
“One thing we have to do is quit bitching about it on the ice,” said Renney.
“You don't endear yourself to anybody. If you show professionalism, maybe you will get the call. After a while, I don't care who the referees are, they are going to say ‘forget it.’ We have to consider that.”
Kari Lehtonen made 19 saves for his 25th win of the season as the Stars continued their hot play of late, beating Edmonton despite firing just 15 shots.
Michael Ryder, Radek Dvorak and Tomas Vincour scored for the Stars (34-26-5), who have gone 5-0-1 in their last six outings to sit on the positive side of the playoff cutoff line.
“We were strong when we had to be and we got the two points,” said Stars defenceman Sheldon Souray, who made his first appearance in Edmonton since demanding a trade two years ago.
The Oilers sent him to the American Hockey League for all of the 2010-11 season before he was bought out and claimed by Dallas last summer.
“It wasn't our best offensive game. But we had some guys go hard to the net and get some ugly goals,” said Souray.
Dallas head coach Glen Gulutzan said the Stars didn't need that many shots as they put a lid on the Oilers offence.
“We limited their chances,” he said. “It was not our best outing but we have to take points wherever we can get them right now. ... We have a good goaltender and we need to use him. This is how we've had success. This is the way it has got to be done if we want to get into the playoffs.”
Sam Gagner replied for the Oilers (25-33-6), who have lost three of their last four to remain second last in the NHL.
“They played well and didn't give us much,” Gagner said. “We had to battle through a lot of things they were throwing at us.”
There was a bit of a scare for the Oilers early on as Taylor Hall crashed into the boards and skated gingerly to the bench but he was able to return and play out the game.
Neither team was able to create much in a sedate and scoreless first period. Edmonton had seven shots on Lehtonen while Dallas managed just four on Nikolai Khabibulin in the Oilers' net.
The scoreless deadlock finally broke 8:35 into the second period when Khabibulin was unable to clear the rebound from an Eric Nystrom shot and Dvorak was able to whack his fourth of the season in from the doorstep.
The Stars went up 2-0 four minutes later on an Oiler miscue as defenceman Corey Potter crashed into his goalie and took him out of the play, allowing Vincour to score into an empty net. It was just Dallas' ninth shot of the game.
Lehtonen kept the Oilers off the board with 10 minutes to play as he stopped a point-blank blast from Ryan Whitney, probably the best chance for Edmonton to that point in the match.
Dallas put the game away with about a minute and a half to play as Ryder sent his 27th of the season into an empty net.
Edmonton scored a meaningless goal with 30 seconds left to break Lehtonen's shutout bid as Ales Hemsky made a nice cross-ice feed to Gagner and he snapped a shot into the net before the Stars' goalie could come across.
Dallas plays the second match of a three-game Western Canadian road trip in Calgary on Sunday. The Oilers head out for a short two-game trip to California, taking on the Ducks in Anaheim on Monday.
Notes — It was the third meeting of the season between the two teams. Dallas won both of the previous games by 4-1 scores on home ice. ... Khabibulin returned to the net after missing the last five games with a groin injury. ... Stars forward Jamie Benn played in his second contest since missing six games due to a leg laceration. ... Dallas forwards Brenden Morrow (neck/back) and Jake Dowell (finger) are on injured reserve.