Sam Gagner scored twice in his return to the Edmonton Oilers but the team fell short in a 4-3 loss to the Dallas Stars Thursday night at Rogers Place.
“You want to make a big play and score a goal to try and help us rally,” Gagner said post-game. “We had a lot of chances and created a lot and just couldn’t find a way to get the equalizer, but there was a lot to like.”
“I saw a team working very hard to try and makes amends for falling behind, but ultimately we shot ourselves in the foot tonight,” Oilers Head Coach Jay Woodcroft said.
The Stars took the lead eight minutes into the game when Matt Duchene beat Stuart Skinner on a two-on-one. The Oilers had several good chances in the period and broke through when Evander Kane fired a shot behind Scott Wedgewood with three minutes to go.
“We can’t expect to score four or five goals every night to win hockey games. It’s not realistic,” Kane said. “We know we’re a good hockey team, but it’s enough talking about it–it’s time to work.”
Early in the second, Joe Pavelski converted on a three-on-one to make it 2-1 Dallas. Evan Bouchard hit the post thrice in the period, including twice 18 seconds apart on an Oilers power play. The Stars would make their own power play count with Roope Hintz scoring from in tight.
Hintz would score again off the rush early in the third. The Oilers got one back halfway through the third when Gagner stuffed a rebound behind Wedgewood. He struck again 3:01 later, tapping in a pass from Kane.
“I thought we rallied behind his energy and the energy in the building after he put one in,” Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said about Gagner.
“I think it’s a good lesson for some guys who haven’t scored in a long time to see where Sam had his offensive success tonight–right around the blue paint,” Woodcroft said post-game.
It was Gagner’s first game of the season and the start of his third tenure with the Oilers. He was in a training camp on a tryout, then played three games in the AHL with Bakersfield before being signed earlier this week.
The Oilers had 25 shots on goal in the third, one short of the team record for shots in a period.
The final shots on goal were 49-27 for the Oilers.
Connor Brown left the game in the second period and didn’t return.
“It looked muscular more than anything,” Woodcroft told media post-game. “At that point it becomes a three-line game and you’re doing what you’ve got to do to find a little chemistry. We were able to find that in the third period. It’s something to build on heading into tomorrow.”
The Oilers, 2-6-1, will host Nashville on Saturday (630 CHED, Face-off Show at 11:30 a.m., game at 1 p.m.).
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