It’s been an up-and-down season for the Dallas Stars, a young team trying to find its way after wandering in the NHL tundra for several aimless seasons, but the new year has been decidedly gloomy — as in no victories in 2014.
But things brightened rapidly Tuesday night at American Airlines Center.
Erik Cole scored 14 seconds into the game, and Dallas raced to a 4-1 lead early in the second period en route to a 5-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers that ended a six-game losing streak.
The Stars (21-18-7, 49 points) didn’t have much time to get comfortable on — much less pad— their early cushion. The Oilers’ Justin Schultz sent a backhander past Kari Lehtonen at the 3:40 mark of the first period to tie the score.
But Ryan Garbutt put Dallas up 2-1 at the 8:35 mark of the first, and Jamie Benn added a rare power-play goal less than two minutes later. The Stars entered the game ranked 29th in the league with the man advantage before converting their only power-play opportunity Tuesday.
Cody Eakin made it 4-1 barely a minute after the first intermission ended.
Garbutt had two assists, and Benn assisted on Cole’s quick-strike 12th goal of the season. Eakin also had an assist as Dallas avoided losing seven consecutive games for the first time since March 2009.
The final Stars goal came on Trevor Daley’s shot into an empty net in the final minute.
Lehtonen made 31 saves for Dallas, whose last victory came at home against the Los Angeles Kings two weeks ago.
Sam Gagner scored for Edmonton midway through the second. Taylor Hall assisted on both goals for the Oilers (15-29-5, 35 points), owners of the worst record in the Western Conference.
Edmonton, which beat Dallas last month in a shootout, outshot Dallas 33-30.