The Dallas Stars needed to dig pretty deep to hang on for victory on Thursday night.
Roope Hintz had two goals and an assist and goalie Scott Wedgewood made 46 saves as the Stars continued their stellar start to the season with a 4-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.
Playing for the second night in a row, the Stars were bombarded with 25 shots in the third period at Rogers Place, but managed to run out the clock.
“We know they’ve got a high-powered offence and they’re going to keep coming,” Wedgewood said. “No matter what kind of lead you have, it’s not really safe in this league, let alone against these guys. Credit to them, they fought back.
“But credit to us, we kept them off the board late when we needed it on a back-to-back. (Doing that) against two hard teams is a big bonus for us.”
Joe Pavelski had a goal and two assists and Matt Duchene also scored for the Stars (7-1-1), who have won three in a row.
“The last 10 minutes, we were taking it,” Pavelski said. “We didn’t play a lot in the O-zone and they were pushing and we had a couple of big blocks and tons of big saves from Wedgey and grinded one out.”
Sam Gagner had a pair of third-period goals in his return to Edmonton. Evander Kane also scored for the struggling Oilers (2-6-1), who have lost five of their last six.
“I thought we were still in that game and you want to make a big play and score a goal to try and help us rally,” Gagner said. “We had a lot of chances. We created a lot and had a lot of looks with the goalie pulled but just couldn’t find a way to get the equalizer.”
Dallas opened the scoring eight minutes into the opening period right after Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins missed a golden opportunity. The Stars went the other way on a two-on-one with Duchene opting to shoot, beating Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner down low for his second of the season.
The Oilers bounced back with three minutes to play in the first frame as Nugent-Hopkins stripped a puck in the Dallas zone and directed it to Kane, who blasted his third goal of the season past the glove of Wedgewood.
The Stars regained the lead three-and-a-half minutes into the second period on another odd-man rush, as Hintz dished it across to Pavelski on a three-on-one break. He put his fourth of the season into the net before Skinner could get across.
Edmonton had a good chance to pull even again on the power play, but Evan Bouchard hit the post on two occasions.
Dallas made it 3-1 on a power play of their own with four minutes remaining in the second period as a pass deflected towards the net and was directed home by Hintz.
The Stars made it look easy as they extended their lead early in the third. Pavelski made a perfect pass to Hintz at the side of the net and he tapped it in for his for his fifth of the campaign.
Edmonton got its second goal of the game midway through the third as Gagner lunged at a loose puck in the blue paint and poked it past an outstretched Wedgewood. It was Gagner’s first game back with the Oilers, rejoining the team for a third time after double hip surgery in the off-season.
Gagner struck again with six-and-a-half minutes to play as he took a pass from Kane and nudged it towards the net, sneaking it in for his second of the contest.
The Oilers applied a ton of pressure with their goalie pulled but were unable to complete the comeback.
“We made a really strong push in the third period, but when you spot a really good team that lead it’s tough to come back,” said Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft. “Ninety-nine shots attempts, 50 on net, all that kind of stuff.
“That’s nice but when you spot a good team a lead like that usually you don’t end up on the right side of it.”
Sam I am
Gagner was originally drafted him by the Oilers with the sixth overall pick in 2007. He became just the 38th player in NHL history to play for the same team on three separate occasions.
The 34-year-old has played 1,015 regular-season games in his NHL career, 543 of those for the Oilers. He had a career highlight with Edmonton in 2012 when he recorded eight points in a game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Oilers were coming off a 5-2 win over the rival Calgary Flames in front of 55,411 fans in the Heritage Classic outdoor game at Commonwealth Stadium ... Dallas was playing its third game in four nights, also defeating Calgary on Wednesday night ... Edmonton was without Mattias Janmark (shoulder), while the Stars were missing the services of Radek Faksa (upper body) ... The Stars’ power play was not clicking coming into the contest with just two goals scored in 23 opportunities. Dallas allowed three short-handed goals over that span. ... Oilers forward Connor Brown left the game in the second period with an injury and did not return.
Both teams return to action on Saturday. The Oilers host the Nashville Predators in a matinee. The Stars will visit the Vancouver Canucks.