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Oilers need to 'bear down' on chances against Stars: coach

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It's a different beast, this Dallas Stars team, one the Edmonton Oilers hadn't yet seen in these 2024 National Hockey League playoffs until now.

It's more patient and disciplined than their previous two post-season foes.

As Oilers forward Evander Kane puts it, the Stars are trying "to lull things to sleep a little bit" while pointing out it appears the top Western seed doesn't "want to take any penalties."

The Stars, 5-3 winners in Monday's Game 3 to take a two-games-to-one series lead in the Western Conference Final, have taken just five penalties in the third-round playoff series so far and have shut out the Oilers' power play — still the league's second-best during the post-season with a 33.3-per-cent success rate through 15 games — in the process.

"That's more of a tactic on their end," Kane said Tuesday of the discipline displayed by the Stars, who are coached by Pete DeBoer, his former bench boss in San Jose.

"I think we can be more physical as a group in all areas all over the ice."

That Dallas discipline and patience is also paying off on the score sheet, as seen during the second period on Monday.

That's when the Stars dominated the Oilers from the start for more than half of it, scoring three times in a three-and-a-half-minute span partway through and denying Edmonton a shot until the latter half of the frame.

Oilers winger Zach Hyman, who scored his NHL playoffs-leading 13th goal in a first period dominated by Edmonton, said his team needs to do a better job managing momentum shifts.

"That first period, we were on our game, we were controlling the pace or controlling the game, then they push back and then they're imposing their game on us," Hyman told media following practice on Tuesday at Rogers Place.

"It's getting back to when that happens, just simplifying things and making the right play and getting it behind them, slowing them down, and then the momentum shifts, and then you can start to take over.

"Whoever can get to their game the longest wins."

'Responses are important'

Top-line Stars winger Wyatt Johnston said his team relies on patience and confidence to bounce back.

"We've done a good job all year, and especially in these playoffs, if we don't have a great period, we take that intermission, regain our thoughts, settle down a bit and make sure we're coming out strong in the next period," Johnston said Tuesday afternoon following his team's practice in preparation for Wednesday's Game 4 back at Rogers Place (6:30 p.m.).

"Responses are so important in playoffs. Our experience and all the guys who have played so many games help bring that patience to get back to our game."

While Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch recognizes the Stars' "committed" approach "to playing the right way all the time," he said his players "can bear down more when there are scoring chances."

"For us to get our opportunities, we have to make a few plays, and that being said, I think we've had our plays (and) our opportunities," Knoblauch told media on Tuesday.

"I think there's been a lot of missed nets, missed passes."

And mistakes, another factor Knoblauch says the Oilers need to address against the Stars.

"There were some things that we weren't doing in the second period that we were in the first — just small little details — and for us to be successful, those small details are non-negotiable," he said.

"If we're going to have success, we need everyone doing those and doing them every single time. The mistakes will happen, but those little details, we've got to make sure that we're doing those and we're committed to doing those as a five-man unit." 

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