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Stars seek better effort against high-flying Oilers

Sportsnaut
Apr 16, 2022; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Stars left wing Michael Raffl (18) checks San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic (44) during the second period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Stars are aiming to bounce back after a poor effort and tighten their hold on a playoff spot when they visit the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.

The Stars (43-28-5, 91 points) sit in the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference after a 6-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Monday, a team chasing Dallas for that final spot. The Stars are four points ahead of their nearest pursuer, the Vegas Golden Knights.

“Short memory,” forward Michael Raffl said. “Forget about this one. There’s two games coming up and that’s where our focus is on.”

The month of April has been up and down for the Stars, who have won consecutive games only once since a three-game winning streak from March 29-April 2. They’re 4-3-2 since that streak, and know that they need to put forth better efforts in the final two weeks of the season.

“They’re huge,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said. “And you don’t win at this time of year with half your team playing well and the other half not playing well. So, the guys who didn’t show up and didn’t play well better find their game by Wednesday night.”

Goalie Jake Oettinger was pulled in the second period after allowing four goals on 19 shots against the Canucks. Bowness isn’t worried about his young netminder.

“He’ll bounce back,” Bowness said. “We have faith in Jake, we have faith in Scott (Wedgewood). A couple of bad goals? Yeah, they were, and at the wrong times. But it’s up to the rest of the guys to battle back and give them some run support, and we didn’t do that. When your goalie gives up a bad goal, try to bail him out.”

Roope Hintz continued his career season with a pair of goals against Vancouver. The Finnish forward has eight points (four goals, four assists) in his past five games, including three multi-point efforts.

The Oilers (44-26-6, 94 points), second in the Pacific Division, head into the contest coming off consecutive 4-0 victories against the Nashville Predators and Vegas Golden Knights. Edmonton has been rolling the past five weeks, going 14-3-2 in its past 19 games after a stretch in which the Oilers won just two of eight games.

Overall, the Oilers are 21-8-3 since coach Jay Woodcroft replaced Dave Tippett.

“I feel very natural in this position,” Woodcroft said. “As you said, it’s not like I was just airlifted into it. I’ve put in 17 years of work to be ready should that opportunity ever arise.”

Forward Warren Foegele has begun to find his game over the past few weeks since Woodcroft put him on a line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Derek Grant. Foegele has three goals in his past five games after scoring just three in his previous 24 outings.

“It’s just about finding ways to somehow contribute, whether that’s scoring or anything like that,” he said. “I think, for myself, I play my best when I’m playing simple and north trying to generate chances playing that way.”

–Field Level Media