|Oilers seek improved 5-on-5 Stars|
Edmonton has hit its lowest point of the season, and the Oilers' play at even strength is the biggest culprit as they prepare to play at the Dallas Stars on Monday night.
Edmonton suffered its season-high fourth straight loss (0-3-1) on Saturday night in Canada's "Hockey Night in Canada" matchup, dropping a 4-1 decision to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The home defeat in the prime-time contest came under a massive spotlight on an enormous stage.
Toronto brought a star-laden team to face the Oilers, including Auston Matthews, John Tavares and Mitchell Marner. The Oilers countered with superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the NHL's top two point scorers.
In front of a sizable collection of Maple Leafs fans at Rogers Place, the Oilers saw Toronto lead from the outset and cruise to the three-goal win in the Eastern Conference team's only visit to Edmonton.
The Oilers entered Sunday's action in a tie for second in the Pacific Division standings with the Calgary Flames, hotly pursued by the Vegas Golden Knights and Vancouver Canucks.
Edmonton has a chance to gain ground in Dallas, but the club will have to improve its 5-on-5 play.
The Oilers' power-play unit, led by McDavid, Draisaitl and James Neal (10 goals on the man advantage), tops the league with a 32.4 percent success rate.
Edmonton has netted 33 goals in 102 chances on the advantage, averaging nearly one tally per game.
"We are getting a lot of pucks at the net, we're just not finding anything in the net. We just have to find better results in our 5-on-5 play," said Oilers coach Dave Tippett.
McDavid, who went without a point for the fourth time in nine games, said the two-game road swing in Dallas and St. Louis will be strong tests.
"I think it's a good opportunity for our group to go against two real good teams and see where we're at," McDavid said.
Dallas earned a 4-1 win in Nashville on Saturday night in the first meeting between the teams in a preview of the league's popular New Year's Day game.
The two sides will square off in Dallas on Jan. 1 in the 2020 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at the legendary Cotton Bowl, located at the Texas state fairgrounds.
The Stars scored four unanswered goals and shut down the Predators' offensive efforts in the win, which stretched Dallas' point streak to five games (4-0-1).
In the club's last five games -- against three teams occupying wild-card spots -- Dallas has allowed just seven goals.
"Scoring is fun, and it's nice to get the glory, and it looks good," said Stars forward Andrew Cogliano, "but defensive hockey wins games and wins championships."
Dallas has been particularly good on the penalty kill lately and ranks fourth overall (85.7 percent) -- a hefty number that could be crucial in beating the Oilers and their top-ranked power play.
The Stars were 3-for-3 when down a man in the win over the Predators, extending their streak to 15 consecutive penalty kills over their last six games.
--Field Level Media