DALLAS -- You don't go to Mardi Gras to give up drinking. You don't go to Saskatchewan to climb mountains. You don't go to Vegas to get your head straightened out.
And you don't sail into hurricane waters to try and right your sinking ship. But there were the Edmonton Oilers, navigating their way out of a seven-game losing streak in the stormy waters of Dallas, where they'd won just twice in their previous 22 visits.
The captain didn't have to go down with his ship - Jason Smith was ejected in the second period - but they won anyway. Go figure.
'WE NEEDED THAT WIN'
"We needed that win desperately,'' sighed head coach Craig MacTavish, after a rare and sorely needed 5-3 victory in Texas. "The more games you lose, your confidence goes and you're less likely to win the next one. So it's important to get this turned around.''
After staking, and subsequently blowing two leads, 2-0 and 3-2, the Oilers went ahead for good in the third period on a go-ahead marker from Radek Dvorak and insurance goal from Raffi Torres.
"It's good to get that feeling back in this room after everything that's gone on,'' said Torres, who has seven snipes on the season. "And to get it here, a tough place for us, it's pretty good.''
Ryan Smyth also scored for the Oilers on a night when they needed their big guns to come through.
"We got some timely goals and some goaltending,'' said MacTavish. "And you need your best players to come out and win you games.''
The Oilers were outshot 11-4 in the first, but came away with a 1-0, lead thanks to Jussi Markkanen's goaltending and Marc-Andre Bergeron's point shot at 19:25.
"Through all these goaltending issues, Jussi's played pretty solidly,'' said MacTavish. "In a lot of ways, that's been lost, but he's given us pretty good goaltending night in and night out.''
At the tail end of a five-on-three for Dallas, Cory Cross capped a great kill with a short-handed point shot early in the second.
"I was just trying to make sure it got by the screen and I got all of it,'' said Cross. "We played a smart disciplined game and that's what we were missing in the previous games - just playing smart hockey. If we're going to win in this league, we have to do that.''
The Stars fought back on Bill Guerin's goal at 8:44 and Mike Modano's just 30 seconds later, after a Bergeron giveaway.
And after that it was a ping-pong match. After failing to score on a 1:55 two man advantage, the Oilers went up 3-2 on Ryan Smyth's rebound at 16:43. Then Brendan Morrow scored on a two-man advantage early in the third to tie it 3-3.
DROVAK SCORES WINNER
Then Dvorak took back the lead with a one-timer at 8:12 after some nice work from Marty Reasoner and Ethan Moreau. Torres iced it on the power play with three minutes to go.
"We were taking about how huge this game was,'' said Dvorak.
"It was nice to score, especially in a game like this.
"Hopefully we can do the same thing Saturday in Nashville.''
Now, speaking of rough waters, it's the 8-1 Preds tonight.
"Now we have to win tomorrow night and build this into something,'' said MacTavish. "And possibly get to .500 with a home win - undo a lot of evil.''
LATE HITS: The Oilers catch a break in Nashville, where Scott Walker is out with an abdominal strain ... The Oilers lost captain Jason Smith early in the second period when he and John Erskine were ejected for being in a secondary fight.