The Dallas Stars have shown different faces in their first two games, and while it figures to take some time to determine their true identity, consistency has remained for more than five years against their next opponent.
The Edmonton Oilers head to Dallas on Tuesday night seeking an offensive uptick to get their first win, and the Stars remain in search of defensive consistency.
Dallas opened with Thursday’s 3-0 home win over Pittsburgh before regressing with a 6-3 loss in Colorado on Saturday. The Stars led 3-1 just under nine minutes into the second, then allowed five unanswered goals.
"It just stinks to lose that game," Jason Spezza said. "It’s frustrating to lose this game after we had a 3-1 lead, but we just have to get back to work."
Cody Eakin scored twice, while Mattias Janmark continued to show early promise with his second goal in as many NHL games. The 22-year-old was part of the deal that sent Erik Cole to Detroit in March.
Antti Niemi has experienced a range of feelings in his first two games with his new team, posting a 37-save shutout in his debut before allowing all six to the Avalanche on 28 shots. He saw plenty of the Oilers while with San Jose and is 11-1-2 with a 2.45 goals-against average against them, though Kari Lehtonen could get his first start.
Lehtonen, Dallas’ starter the past five seasons, is 8-2-1 with a 2.16 GAA in his last 12 starts against Edmonton.
The Stars have won 15 of the last 19 meetings, and it might not take much offense to add another to that dominant stretch.
Scoring is where the Oilers need to improve after going winless through two games for the third straight season. They’re completing a three-game road trip and have scored once in the first two after falling 2-0 in Nashville on Saturday, which ensured they’ll remain without a winning record on a multi-game trip since finishing a three-game trip with a win in Dallas on Dec. 1, 2013. Since, Edmonton is a 16-36-15 on the road with only Buffalo and Toronto gathering fewer points.
The power play went 0 for 5 against the Predators, and while a 1-for-8 sample size might leave some coaches calling for patience, Todd McLellan is already seeking answers. The Stars gave up a pair of power-play goals on four chances to Colorado.
"Our offense has to get better and a lot of that has to do with our power play," McLellan told the team’s official website. "I thought our power play sucked the life out of us so that was disappointing. Yet, some of the things we were doing on the power play were the right things but we killed it ourselves with poor execution, poor passing."
While plenty of the spotlight has been focused on No. 1 overall pick Connor McDavid, there are plenty of others who have failed to produce thus far. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ unassisted goal in Thursday’s 3-1 loss in St. Louis stands as the team’s only point.
Goaltender Cam Talbot has played the first two games, but McLellan said Anders Nilsson could make his season debut against the Stars.
Nilsson made 19 starts for the New York Islanders in 2013-14 before being traded to Chicago and spending last season in the KHL. The Blackhawks held his rights and traded him to the Oilers in July.
The 25-year-old was 20-9-8 with a 1.71 GAA and .936 save percentage in 38 regular-season games with KHL club Ak Bars Kazan. He was 13-7 with a 1.54 mark in the postseason.