EDMONTON – Nikolai Khabibulin avoided wearing the goat horns for a second consecutive game on Tuesday night, stopping all three shots in the shootout as the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Dallas Stars 5-4.
One game after a goaltending gaffe that led to a loss in Edmonton’s home opener, Khabibulin became just the 24th goaltender in NHL history to hit the 300 career win mark.
Khabibulin had a far better night Tuesday than last Saturday, when he lost the handle on the puck with less than a minute, a miscue that led to a Calgary goal and 4-3 loss to the rival Flames.
“That was a hard way to lose that first game so it was good to see the team rewarded tonight,” said the 36-year-old free agent acquisition. “It’s nice to hit that milestone but right now I am just happy that we won the game. I’ll try to build on it and make sure I don’t stop at 300, I guess.”
Ales Hemsky scored the lone goal in the shootout session and Mike Comrie, Sam Gagner, Dustin Penner and Denis Grebeshkov scored in regulation for the Oilers (1-1-0).
Oilers head coach Pat Quinn was glad to see his team hit the win column, even if he thought they had looked better in their debut than they did against the Stars.
“It feels good even if I though we were better the first night than tonight,” he said. “You never know when you are going to get the result. Khabibulin made some big stops for us to keep us alive and we did enough scoring to get back in it. But from a coaching standpoint, I still feel we have a lot of work to do.”
Brenden Morrow responded with a pair of goals while James Neal and Stephane Robidas also scored for Dallas (0-0-2), which suffered its second shootout loss in a row.
“It’s nice to steal a point any time on the road but when you have the chances to win that we did tonight, you’d like to be leaving with the two points,” Morrow said. “There were some weird bounces out there tonight.”
“Last year we were scratching and crawling to get to the playoffs so we know that every point is at a premium,” said Stars goaltender Marty Turco. “We’re actually playing pretty good hockey. With the changes we have made, overall we like what we see.
“But we still only got two out of four points to start the year. The level of play is right, the mindset is right, we just have to start converting.”
Edmonton started the scoring with an early power play marker. Andrew Cogliano sent a deft backhand pass from behind the net to Comrie, who beat Turco for the first goal of his second stint with the Oilers.
The Stars drew even two minutes later. Khabibulin stopped Trevor Daley’s point shot, but Morrow’s rebound caromed off of the skate of teammate J.F. Jacques and into the net.
It remained 1-1 until six minutes into the second period when Dallas took the lead on a short-handed goal. Turco’s clearing past went over the head of Oilers defender Lubomir Visnovsky and was picked up by Neal, who had a two-on-one but shot it himself for his third of the season.
Edmonton tied the game on the same power play as Gagner crept in from the boards and unleashed a bullet from the top of the circle for his second goal in as many games.
Dallas regained the advantage on a power play of its own five minutes later as Robidas beat Khabibulin on a screened shot after a couple of scrambles in front of the Oiler net.
Edmonton tied the game 3-3 with just under two minutes to play. Penner showed some skilled hands, pulling the puck from his backhand before quickly roofing it on a shot that looked to have surprised Turco.
The Stars took the lead 1:25 into the third on the power play as Morrow’s shot from the side of the net sailed between Khabibulin’s legs.
The back-and-forth scoring continued as the Oilers made it 4-4 with 13 minutes to play in the third. Grebeshkov’s point blast hit a skate on its way to the net and took a fortunate hop over Turco and into the net, eventually sending the game to extra time.
Edmonton has a rematch against their opening game opponents when they host Calgary on Thursday. Dallas plays the second game of a three-game Western Canada road swing in Calgary on Friday.
Notes: Edmonton captain Ethan Moreau missed the contest with a flare-up in his infected left ankle. Moreau was replaced by Robert Nilsson. Assistant captain Shawn Horcoff was also questionable after missing the morning skate with an undisclosed “tweak” but was able to starta Dallas veteran Mike Modano was a scratch for the Stars with a rib injury. Brad Richards (lower body) was also a question mark but did dress. … Jere Lehtinen (hip/groin) has skated in practice, but is still not game-ready. Lehtinen did not play in the pre-season. … While the two teams split their four games last season the trend in recent years has been tremendously in Dallas’ favour. Entering the game the Stars owned a 12-4 mark in the 16 most recent contests in this series.