Thinking First

The Dallas Stars look to move into sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division on Friday night when they visit the last-place Edmonton Oilers - a team they haven't lost to on the road in more than four years.

The Stars (29-20-5) have won six consecutive games at Rexall Place, all by one goal, including a 2-1 shootout victory Dec. 18. They haven't lost there since a 3-0 defeat on Jan. 20, 2004.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Dallas -130 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 5 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 67% of bets for this game have been placed on Dallas -130 (View NHL Bet Percentages).

Dallas has won four straight meetings overall and seven of the last eight with the Oilers (23-25-5).

The Stars will be looking to break a tie with idle San Jose atop the Pacific on Friday. They maintained that position Tuesday by beating Vancouver 4-3 to start their three-game road swing, which ends against Calgary on Saturday.

"It was important to grab some points in a game like this to start the trip," Stars goaltender Marty Turco told the team's official Web site. "We were able to hang on and start this trip on the right note."

Turco was a major factor against the Canucks, making 29 saves after stopping 17 shots in a 2-1 loss to Buffalo on Jan. 24 just before the All-Star break. That's his only loss in his last four starts, during which he has posted a 2.27 goals-against average.

Turco has been a big part of Dallas' success at Edmonton, winning his last five starts there with a 2.16 GAA. He stopped 33 shots and two more in the shootout Dec. 18, improving to 13-4-0 with a 2.16 GAA and three shutouts in 17 games against the Oilers.

The Stars are hoping Jere Lehtinen makes his return Friday after undergoing sports hernia surgery Nov. 23. The veteran right wing has missed 33 games after starting the season with six goals and 13 assists in 21 games.

The Oilers, at the bottom of the Northwest Division and 13th in the Western Conference, are looking to rebound from a listless 3-0 loss to the Sharks on Tuesday. Edmonton managed only 13 shots as it opened a four-game homestand with its fifth defeat in seven games.

"It was a humbling effort. I didn't see this effort coming," coach Craig MacTavish said. "You can say that we got outbattled but we didn't even get to the battle.

"It was a humiliating evening in virtually all of the aspects of the game."

Mathieu Garon was one of the few bright spots against San Jose, stopping 36 of 38 shots. Garon, though, has lost three of his last four starts with a 3.58 GAA following a four-game winning streak, during which he posted a 1.23 GAA and a shutout.

Garon is 0-3-1 with a 3.35 GAA in his last four games against Dallas.

That could result in MacTavish using Dwayne Roloson in net Friday, but Roloson has won only one of his last six starts (1-2-3) with a 3.08 GAA.

He took the loss in the last meeting with the Stars despite making 36 saves and one more in the shootout. That dropped him to 0-1-2 with a 3.66 GAA in his last four games against Dallas.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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