EDMONTON — Ken Hitchcock earned his first home win as the new head coach of the Edmonton Oilers and it came in a tightly contested matchup against his former team.
Oscar Klefbom scored his first goal of the season in overtime as the Oilers came away with a 1-0 victory over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday.
“In our division, I think that is how we are going to have to win and we know that,” said Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on playing in tight games since Hitchcock’s arrival. “When we went on our playoff run a couple of years ago, we were winning all those 3-2, 4-2, 2-1 games. We have to get back to that and understand that is the way that we are going to have success.”
Goalie Mikko Koskinen made 28 saves to earn his second career shutout for Edmonton (11-11-2).
Hitchcock, an Edmonton native who took over for the fired Todd McLellan last week, coached parts of eight seasons with the Stars in his career.
“One thing I’ve learned coaching in the West is, you’ve got to get points when you’re tired,” Hitchcock said. “We knew when we didn’t get the lead in the first period that we’d be in a bit of trouble, because our energy was lacking. So, we ground it down. You’ve got to get points in the West when you’re down to eight per cent, and that means you have to grind them.”
Anton Khudobin stopped 30 shots in net as the Stars (12-11-2) lost for the fourth time in their past five games.
“We are dedicated to playing on the right side of the puck and we’re getting back,” said Dallas head coach Jim Montgomery. “We’re improving. Right now I wish we would have had that extra point.”
Leon Draisaitl made a perfect pass 2:42 into overtime to set up Klefbom for the winner as the Oilers snapped a two-game losing skid.
“We have that confidence going into overtime. We have almost a mental advantage going into three-on-three,” Klefbom said. “It’s been a long wait between goals with a lot of shots on goal. It was a good time to get the first one tonight.”
After two scoreless periods, Edmonton’s Ryan Spooner had one of the best chances of the night with four minutes left in the third period, but Khubodin came up with a clutch save.
Down at the other end of the ice, Koskinen stopped Dallas forward Jamie Benn in the final seconds of regulation time.
Just 1:15 into overtime, Connor McDavid had a breakaway and was stopped, but the puck was poked by Dallas defender Alexander Radulov towards his own net. It appeared it had crossed the line before being fished to safety, but the goal was disallowed on a video review.
The Stars play Wednesday night in Calgary, while the Oilers host the L.A. Kings on Thursday.
Notes: It was the first of three meetings between the Oilers and Stars this season. … The Stars were without six players due to injuries, including four defencemen and goaltender Ben Bishop, who missed his third game with a lower-body injury. … Oilers defenceman Andrej Sekera skated with the team for the first time this season on Tuesday, but is still expected to be out for at least a month with an Achilles injury.