Stars

Horcoff Leads Oilers Past Struggling Stars

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Shawn Horcoff of the Edmonton Oilers skates after the puck during an NHL game. (credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Shawn Horcoff of the Edmonton Oilers skates after the puck during an NHL game. (credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) – After another string of disappointing results, Edmonton general manager Steve Tambellini called out his team for its lackluster play.

The Oilers got the message.

Edmonton captain Shawn Horcoff had a goal and two assists and the Oilers snapped a three-game skid with a 4-1 victory over the struggling Dallas Stars on Tuesday night.

“It was important tonight to respond in front of our fans,” Horcoff said. “It was no secret we were challenged and the fans knew we’d been challenged. It’s important to show them what it’s going to be like here in the future.”

Jordan Eberle, Taylor Chorney and Ales Hemsky also scored for the last-place Oilers, who won for the first time in their last eight home games and for just the second time in their last nine overall.

Edmonton goalie Nikolai Khabibulin made 24 saves and snapped a 14-game losing streak.

“Khabibulin was good early and we needed him to be,” Oilers coach Tom Renney said. “He made some good saves and we fed off of that. Then our power play scores a goal and then all of a sudden you start to believe in yourself and what you are doing and why you do it.”

Loui Eriksson scored for the Stars, who have two wins in their last seven games.

“We’re frustrated,” said Dallas captain Brenden Morrow. “It hasn’t been a good run for us. Every day we say the right things, we talk about the right things, we have meetings on top of meetings, and then we come out in the game and fall behind.

“I can’t remember the last time we played with a lead. It’s tough to win when you are always fighting back.”

Dallas was without leading scorer Brad Richards, out with an undisclosed injury sustained late in Sunday’s game against Columbus. Stars defenseman Niklas Grossman, also injured against the Blue Jackets, missed the game with a groin injury.

The Stars are 1-5-1 since the All-Star break, and the rest of the Western Conference playoff hopefuls have been making up significant ground.

“I don’t think we have been playing at the level we can,” goalie Kari Lehtonen said. “We have some guys hurt, but I think we still have a much better team than we have showed the last couple games. It’s a very important part of the season and we want to get wins.”

Both goalies had big stops early. Khabibulin made a quick kick save on Brenden Morrow as the Stars’ captain finished a two-on-one. Lehtonen quickly followed, stoning Hemsky on a clear-cut breakaway.

Edmonton opened the scoring with just under 2 minutes left in the first period as Sam Gagner showed some deft puck handling behind the net before putting a backhand pass out front to Eberle, who scored his 12th of the season.

The Oilers outshot Dallas 11-7 in the first period — they had only 12 shots in Sunday’s 4-0 loss to Anaheim.

Edmonton went up 2-0 at 7:40 of the second with a rare power-play goal. Chorney, a recent call-up, scored his first career NHL goal on a bullet of a shot from the edge of the circle.

“To come home like that and score your first NHL goal and have the crowd go nuts like that was something special,” Chorney said.

It was Edmonton’s first power-play goal in 26 attempts and just its fourth in 84 man advantages.

Dallas pulled back to within one on a power play with 3 1/2 minutes left in the second period. Eriksson split the defense and slid a backhand through Khabibulin’s legs to make it 2-1.

The Oilers made it 3-1 on another power play goal with 1:50 left in the second. Hemsky fed the puck in front for Horcoff, who directed it past Lehtonen. Horcoff was in the lineup after missing the last two games with bronchitis.

Hemsky made up for his breakaway miss early in the game just 28 seconds into the third, scoring his 10th of the season to put Edmonton ahead 4-1.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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