No hangover for these Dallas Stars, who are streaking toward playoffs with record 8 wins in a row

DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Stars coach Pete DeBoer went into this season a little worried about the potential hangover effect on his team after the long postseason run that ended with a loss last May in the sixth game of the Western Conference Final.

With six games left before the playoffs begin again, DeBoer is feeling pretty good about his team.

The Stars have won a franchise-record eight games in a row, Jake Oettinger has posted shutouts in the last two, and they are on top of the Western Conference standings with 105 points, one behind the New York Rangers for the most in the NHL. They are playing their best hockey of the season.

“This is the right time,” DeBoer said after the Stars beat Edmonton 5-0 on Wednesday night. “Forget the wins and the winning streak, I like the detail in our game. I like how we’re playing for the most part, so that’s a good thing. Everyone wants to be doing that this time of year, and the wins are a byproduct of that.”

Dallas already has seven 20-goal scorers, and captain Jamie Benn is one shy of making it a franchise-record eight after his 19th against the Oilers. Wyatt Johnston, the 20-year-old in his second full season, became the first Stars player to 30 this season when he scored coming out of the penalty box as part of their four goals in a span of less than seven minutes in the second period.

“The team’s at a really good place,” Johnston said.

“We’re just trying to focus like on the little habits, the little details, trying to focus for the playoffs,” forward Radek Faksa said. “We have lots to play for. We already clinched a spot. We want to win the conference … so we have a great spot for the playoffs.”

Faksa, part of their fourth line, put the Stars ahead of Edmonton with his goal only 2:08 into the game. He also had two assists, on Johnston’s goal and when Sam Steele closed out the scoring. There were 10 different Dallas players who tallied points.

“I think our depth has carried us,” DeBoer said. “It was 12 months ago, and everyone was describing us as a one-line team.”

The Stars last week clinched a third consecutive postseason berth, their longest streak since five in a row through the 2008 playoffs, when they also lost in in the conference final. That was also the end of being in the playoffs 12 of their first 14 seasons after moving from Minnesota to Dallas in the summer of 1993, and included their Stanley Cup title in 1999.

Dallas last year lost Game 6 of the Western Conference Final at home to Las Vegas, which went to win the Stanley Cup. That was after the Stars opened the playoffs with a six-game series against Minnesota and then survived a seven-game series against Seattle.

As for their eight-game winning streak now, there had been six other times in franchise history when the Stars had won seven games without extended that.

They were back home against Edmonton after each of their previous four games had been on the road. Overall, they have won their last seven road games, and play their last regular-season games away from home against Chicago and Colorado this weekend before finishing with a four-game homestand.

Oettinger hasn’t allowed a goal in 7 1/2 periods, about 152 minutes. He stopped 35 shots against an Edmonton team filled with top scorers that went 0 for 4 on the power play.

“It’s awesome. He gives us a lot of confidence, and he’s been so good all year,” Johnston said about the goalie. “It feels pretty good when you have him back there. And, I mean, it’s pretty hard to lose games when he’s not letting up any goals.”

___

AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.