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Stars, Oilers have different feelings about West final being tied

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DALLAS (AP) — There is a big difference in how the Dallas Stars and Edmonton Oilers feel about the Western Conference Final being even going into Game 3.

Edmonton senses that it let a big opportunity slip away early in this best-of-seven series. The Stars had another bounce-back effort before going on the road, where they have been so good all season.

“If you would have told me four or five days ago that we can come in here and split against Dallas ... we would have taken that,” Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch said. “Now it’s a little more bitter when you win the first one and lose the second one.”

Game 3 is Monday night in Edmonton, where the Stars won in their only regular-season visit in November before Knoblauch was even coach there. They are an NHL-best 5-1 on the road this postseason, and won Games 3 and 4 on the road in each of the first two rounds while knocking out the past two Stanley Cup champions.

Mason Marchment scored the go-ahead goal 3:41 into the third period Saturday night on a long shot by Ryan Suter, and the Stars went on to a 3-1 win. It was the seventh time in a row over the last three postseasons they went into Game 2 coming off a loss — they have now won six of those games.

“There’s a lot of character in here. You’ve got a lot of young guys playing hard for us old guys, and a lot of old guys that are playing hard for the young guys,” said Suter, the 39-year-old defenseman whose 1,444 career regular-season games are the most for any active player without a Stanley Cup. "So just everyone’s bought in. Nothing really phases us. You get down two, you find a win to come back. You have a bad period, you got to have a good one to follow up.”

Dallas took the initial lead in Game 2 when captain Jamie Benn scored 3:39 into the first period, only for the Oilers to get even 44 seconds later when Connor Brown scored his first playoff goal in six years.

When the Stars went ahead on Marchment's first goal since the playoff opener, they made it difficult for Edmonton to even try to mount a comeback.

The Oilers had only five shots on goal in the third period, and went nearly 12 minutes without one after going behind. Dallas blocked seven shots and had 14 of its 31 hits after taking the lead.

Leon Draisaitl, who had points in each of Edmonton's first 13 games this postseason, had just two shots on net. Connor McDavid got only one, early in the game after he had the game-winning goal 32 seconds into double overtime of the series opener. High-scoring defenseman Evan Bouchard had three, but also had nine attempts blocked.

“They’re a good team, and they defend well. They’ve been doing a good job getting in passing lanes and shooting lanes," McDavid said.

“They’re obviously a good shot-blocking team, but I think we had our looks. I mean, I hit the knob ... it’s a 2-2 game at that point if we score. I’m not saying it’s just one chance. We had our looks,” Mattias Ekholm said. “We’re playing well enough to win, but we still do have another level to our game.”

Edmonton had gone 11:43 without a shot on net until Jake Oettinger's reaching glove save on Ekhlom with 3:27 left. The defenseman was denied on long shot only 19 seconds after that, and Oettinger then got the last of his 28 saves against Bouchard.

Oettinger had 16 saves in a busy first period, and withstood that final flurry while protecting the lead. His 22 career playoff wins are second alone on the Stars career list, but still half of the 44 by Stanley Cup-winning goalie Ed Belfour.

“You’d rather be getting work than just sitting there and all of the sudden, you get 2-on-1 breakaways. Sometimes those even are harder, the games you get 16 shots and 16 chances compared to 40 shots,” Oettinger said. "You can never pick what type of workload you’re going to get, but you just stay in it and feeling good. ... Those are even easier than the ones with not a lot of work.”

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