How the Oilers defeated the Dallas Stars

Photo credit:Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
18 days ago
The Edmonton Oilers are heading to their eighth Stanley Cup Final, and their path to this point wasn’t easy.
We don’t need to revisit their awful start. It was 12 bad games, but since then, they’ve been very good.
In 2006, when they made their unexpected run to the final, they defeated Detroit (124 points), San Jose (99) and Anaheim (98) to represent the Western Conference. Those Oilers had 95 points and were an underdog when the playoffs began.
This year’s Oilers finished with the ninth-most points in the NHL, 109, and they’ve played tougher competition each round. They defeated LA (99 points), Vancouver (109) and Dallas (113) this post-season and now face the Florida Panthers (112 points). The Panthers led the NHL in points in 2022 before losing in round two to the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning. They lost the Cup Final last year to Vegas and are back again in 2024.
The Panthers are good. But so are the Oilers. This should be a great Final.


Edmonton’s depth was more productive in this series, their special teams were better, their top-end players were better and Stuart Skinner outduelled Jake Oettinger. They deserved to win.
Edmonton had 11 players score a goal and 17 skaters picked up at least one point. Connor Brown, Ryan McLeod, Mattias Janmark, Adam Henrique and Philip Broberg scored.
Dallas had seven skaters score a goal and 14 had at least one point. Mason Marchment was the only forward outside their top two lines to score a goal in the series. Defender Esa Lindell had one at 5×5 as well.
The Oilers’ penalty kill was perfect. Again. LA went 0-for-12 on the man advantage in round one, and Dallas was 0-for-14 this round. Mattias Janmark scored shorthanded, so the Oilers’ PK was actually +1 in the series.
Edmonton was 0-for-6 on the PP in the first four games, but went 4-for-5 in Games 5 and 6 and finished the series 4-for-11 (36.4%).
Dallas was 0% on the PP and 63.6% on the PK. Not a recipe for winning.
Edmonton has more top-end skill and it showed in this series. Connor McDavid led all players with 10 points and added another breathtaking goal to his playoff arsenal last night.
Evan Bouchard chipped in with seven points (thankfully no one brings up secondary assists as a negative anymore, because they never were, IMO), Zach Hyman had three goals and five points while Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each produced 2-2-4.
Stuart Skinner faced 154 shots, allowing 12 goals and finished the series with a .922Sv% and 1.91 GAA. Jake Oetteinger faced 161 shots, allowed 16 goals and posted a .907Sv% and 2.56 GAA.
Skinner was better, especially in the final three games. He was the first star last night, stopping 33 of 34 shots after being named second star in Game 5. Any argument that Skinner can’t win a big game has been put to rest. He did it in round one v. LA, when Edmonton was outshot 33-13, but won 1-0, and he did it again last night, on an even bigger stage.
Skinner watched Games 4 and 5 in the Vancouver series from the bench, and since returning he’s been stellar. He is 6-2 with a .919Sv% and 1.81 GAA. “It was a good time for me to reset mentally and get some rest physically and do what I’m here to do,” said Skinner.
“I think after that break, being able to come back and have the games I was able to play, winning Game 7 against Vancouver and bringing the momentum into the Dallas series was massive for myself personally. Not only that, but the way our team has been playing lately is pretty incredible. There is no way I have any types of numbers like that without the guys in front of me.”
The team has played well defensively, but Skinner was exceptional last night.
It shouldn’t be a surprise considering their regular season numbers, but the Oilers were sound again defensively. Before the series began, there were still question marks around their defensive game. I sense some still view the Oilers as the team from 2021-2023, where they have stretches of good play, but eventually they will leak chances. That isn’t the case in 2024.
In the regular season (via Sportlogiq) the Oilers were top-five in many defensive categories:
1st in slot shots allowed.
2nd in expected goals against.
3rd in high danger chances against.
4th in inner slot shots against.
4th in rush chances allowed.
5th in cycle chances against.
That has continued in the playoffs.
1st in HD chances against.
1st in xGA.
2nd in rush chances against.
4th in slot shots allowed.
4th in inner slot shots allowed.
As they prepare for Florida, if you see people suggest Florida has an advantage defensively, you can show them the above data. The Panthers are solid as well, but they rank fifth in HD chances against, second in xGA, sixth in rush chances, second in slot shots and fifth in inner slot shots this postseason.


The Oilers won because they got contributions up and down the lineup — timely goals from depth players, big saves from Skinner and their star players were their best players.
Many players had bounce back series or games.
After struggling early in the series, Darnell Nurse was excellent in the final three games. He was much more physical and he was aggressive and stood up at the blue line.
Cody Ceci was one of eight Oilers skaters who logged more than 100 minutes at 5×5. He and Draisaitl were the two on for two goals against. And he was perfect in his PK minutes.
Adam Henrique returned to the lineup after being out with a high ankle sprain. In his four games he scored a goal, but also went 58.5% in the faceoff dot.
Brett Kulak blocked 21 shots in the series, and played the right side for the first time all year. And did well.
Every player had an impact and that bodes well as they prepare to face very good opponent in Florida.


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