The Edmonton Oilers approached Friday night's preseason finale at the Cox Convention Center as a dress rehearsal for Tuesday night's season opener. The Stars sat many of their top-line players after playing Thursday night in Dallas.
So what happened? The Stars' “B” team notched a 4-0 win in front of 8,841 fans even though the Oilers played No. 1 goaltender Devan Dubnyk and the Stars went with backup Dan Ellis.
“In a lot of areas they out-battled us,” said Oilers forward Jordan Eberle. “I don't think our structure was 100 percent there. This is definitely a wake-up call as far as what we need to do before Tuesday.”
The Oilers open the regular season Tuesday night at home against Winnipeg.
Austin Smith, Luke Gazdic, Vernon Fiddler and Brett Ritchie scored goals for the Stars, who outshot the Oilers 29-20.
Edmonton entered Friday's game with the NHL's best preseason record, but the finale was a clunker.
“I have a couple of assistant coaches that want to climb the walls,” said Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins. “All I said is it was good that this happened. It's good to let our team know that our diapers do stink. That's not going to happen again.
“I let our players know that was their free pass. If this was Oct. 1 (the season opener) I would have shortened that bench down really fast. Guys who weren't doing what was being asked of them would be on the bench.”
YOUNG STARS SHOW VETERANS OKC
Four young Oilers played last season in Oklahoma City during the NHL lockout. In addition to making community appearances while in OKC the past three days, Taylor Hall, Justin Schultz, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle showed veteran teammates Bricktown.
“We hit some old spots,” Hall said. “We didn't have our bikes like we did when we were here. But it was neat to come back. It's weird when you never think you'll be back in a place and sure enough you're back. We had a lot of fun while we were here. It was great to see everyone again.”
Over the years, the Stars have been the most popular team in the Oklahoma City area due to the proximity to Dallas. But with the Oklahoma City Barons being Edmonton's Triple-A affiliate, the Oilers were the home team. There were Stars jerseys throughout the crowd. “Stars” was chanted during the national anthem, a sure indicator of Dallas hockey fans. There were loud cheers following all four Stars goals. The Oilers had more fans, but it was hard to discern since they never scored.
Down 3-0, Eakins said he pulled Dubnyk with over seven minutes left to try to spark a rally. The Stars, though, scored an empty-net goal with 7:26 remaining that sent some fans to the exits. ... While their NHL parent team was using their home arena for a preseason game, the Barons played the first of two preseason games Friday night in Austin. The Barons open the season Oct. 4-5 at home against the Charlotte Checkers. ... Veteran forward Ryan Jones has cleared waivers and will open the season with the Barons. Jones, who played in 195 games with Edmonton the past three years, signed a $1.5 million one-year deal with the Oilers but was beat out by Jesse Joensuu and Ryan Hamilton. Tough man Steve MacIntyre, who the Oilers signed last week, left Friday's game with a sprained knee and did not return. ... The Barons give away a new vehicle at every Saturday home game. They made an exception for the NHL Showcase. Amy Hard won the first new vehicle of the season, a Dodge Charger. ... The first 2,000 adults and 1,000 kids 12-and-under received vouchers for a Barons replica practice jersey. The jerseys were planned to be given away at Friday's game but weren't available due to a shipping delay.