The lack of scoring at home for the Edmonton Oilers has reached a historic low.
Kari Lehtonen only needed to make 22 saves to record his 23rd career shutout as the Dallas Stars defeated the struggling Oilers 3-0 on Wednesday night.
The Oilers (4-14-2) have lost four in a row and gone 1-8-1 in their last 10 to slip to second last in the NHL.
It was the third consecutive home game the Oilers have been shut out, setting a franchise-worst record.
Edmonton has only scored two goals in its last five home games.
“This is extremely frustrating, not to be able to put a puck into the back of the net,” said Oilers captain Andrew Ference.
“It was one of these games again that you can point to positives, but at the end of the day you have to get the job done and score. It’s obviously a huge challenge for everybody to keep their heads up right now and not grip their sticks too tight.”
Oilers centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said their inability to score is almost baffling.
“The last three games at home, I don’t know what it is,” he said. “You are not going to win without scoring. We have to find a way to get the second and third opportunities.
“It’s not a good sign. I thought we played pretty good in the last three games, we just have to find a way to score. This is not something you want to keep doing, putting yourself in this situation. I can’t stress enough how we have to bear down in front of the net.”
Rich Peverley, Antoine Roussel and Tyler Seguin scored for the Stars (9-7-2), who have won four of their last five games.
Stars centre Shawn Horcoff credited Lehtonen for giving his team the time to find their footing in the contest.
“He’s one of the best in the league and he gives us a chance to win like that every night,” said Horcoff. “I think in the first, we started real slow and we gave up a number of key opportunities and he made a couple of real, big saves that allowed us to get our feet. Once we settled in a little bit, we were able to take the game over.”
There was a good pace to start the game as the Stars controlled much of the early play, but the Oilers had by far the best chance to that point when Jordan Eberle got the puck in tight in front of the net, only to robbed by an impressive glove save by Lehtonen. Edmonton’s Sam Gagner hit the crossbar two minutes later.
The game remained scoreless through the first with the Stars getting 11 shots on Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk and the Oilers responding with nine.
After the Oilers continued to squander power-play opportunities, including a lengthy 5-on-3 early in the second, Dallas took a 1-0 lead.
Peverley got a shot away and was then able to outmuscle defender Jeff Petry to get to his own rebound and chip his fourth of the season past Dubnyk from the doorstep.
The Stars came close to taking a two-goal lead on a power play with six minutes left in the second, but Cody Eakin rang a shot off the post.
Edmonton survived a pair of 5-on-3 penalty kills before the midmark of the third period and even a penalty-shot attempt by Valeri Nichuskin with three minutes remaining. But the Oilers couldn’t get the equalizer they needed before Seguin dumped a shot from his knees in his own zone into an empty net to give the Stars the 2-0 lead.
“I was tired and I aimed for the net,” Segiun said of his eighth goal of the season. “If it missed, I didn’t care at that point. It was one of those shifts where we were out there for a solid minute at least. They were making some good plays and I just wanted to get it out.”
Roussel added yet another empty netter to ice the game.
The Stars are right back at it on Thursday night as they play the second game of a three-game road swing in Calgary. The Oilers return to the ice on Friday when they host the San Jose Sharks.
Notes - It was the first of three meetings between the two teams this season, with the Stars having claimed 11 of the previous 13 games they have played against each other. ... Dallas centre and former Oilers captain Horcoff made his first appearance against his old team since an off-season trade that sent him from Edmonton to the Stars in return for defenceman Philip Larsen. Horcoff played nearly 800 games for the Oilers in 12 seasons. ... Recently-signed free agent goalie Ilya Bryzgalov has yet to join the Oilers as he has been sent to the team’s AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City for a conditioning stint. ... With young Oilers defenceman Justin Schultz still suffering from a groin injury, Corey Potter was called up and made his season debut. ... Stars winger Ray Whitney suffered a lower-body injury in his team’s last game on Saturday and will miss at least the next two games. The veteran 41-year-old has recorded one goal and seven assists this season.