|Oilers, Stars seek respective comfort zones|
DALLAS -- After losing their last game, both the Edmonton Oilers and Dallas Stars look to return to their respective comfort zones on Saturday afternoon at American Airlines Center.
For the Oilers (7-10-2), who lost 4-1 at home to St. Louis at home on Thursday, that means a return to the road, where Edmonton is 3-3-2 this season.
"I'm not sure exactly what the reason is (why our road record is better than our home record, which is 3-3-2), but we've definitely done a good job on the road this season. We definitely got to keep that going," Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said after practice on Friday.
Center Connor McDavid, who leads the Oilers with 22 points (13 assists) and defenseman Oscar Klefbom both did not practice Friday in Edmonton prior to the team flying to Dallas, but both absences were excused.
"Yeah, they're fine," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said of Klefbom and McDavid. "They had a day today (Friday) for maintenance and health, so they should be good tomorrow."
McLellan also offered an update on defenseman Andrej Sekera, who has yet to play this season after sustaining a torn ACL in last spring's playoffs.
"He'll come on the trip. He won't the trip," McLellan said. "He's still a ways away. He's just getting to the point where he's beginning to skate with us, no body contract. We won't see him at all in November and we're hoping somewhere in December he's able to return."
Dallas (9-9-1, 19 points) lost 6-1 at Tampa Bay on Thursday, capping it's three-game Eastern Conference road trip at 0-2-1.
The Stars were outscored 15-5 in those contests, including a 4-3 shootout loss at Florida on Tuesday, and Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock knows exactly why his team has a misleading 3-7-1 mark on the road compared to a 6-2-0 home record.
"I would say we've played, on general terms, way better on the road than we have at home," Hitchcock said after practice on Friday. "We've played with more energy, but the element that's hurt us, the general term that you would call it is puck management, but I would call it avoiding the obvious play. I think that's what's really hurt us on the road."
On Friday, Hitchcock said backup goaltender Kari Lehtonen will get the nod on Saturday afternoon against the Oilers.
Stars veteran defenseman Marc Methot did not practice on Friday and will miss a fifth consecutive game with a lower-body injury.
"Methot couldn't go today (Friday)," Hitchcock said. "He lasted for 15 minutes, so he needs another couple of days."
However, Hitchcock said young forward Brett Ritchie, a healthy scratch the past two games who has just two points in 14 games this season, will draw back into the lineup against the Oilers.
"We're going to bring Ritchie in. Then we'll decide who we're going to sit after we get the medical report on a couple of guys," Hitchcock said.
Dallas will play three of its next four games at home, including a visit from Montreal on Tuesday and from Calgary next Friday. And with the Stars having a much better home record than they do on the road, maybe returning home could help them right the ship in what has been an uneven season thus far.
"Yeah, it's nice (to return home after such a tough road trip)," Stars center Devin Shore said. "I think that's the whole 82-game schedule, the bad games you usually have a pretty quick turnaround. It's that baseball mentality, put it behind you, learn from it and move on. Even with wins, the next game is coming in pretty hot."