Pain, and no gain

DEREK VAN DIEST, EDMONTON SUN

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

DALLAS -- It appeared as though the Edmonton Oilers were going to take their Christmas break early.

Then head coach Craig MacTavish reminded his squad there was still work to do.

Last night the Oilers spotted the Dallas Stars three goals before mounting a comeback that fell short in a 3-2 loss.

"I never felt that we were going to be out of the game," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.

"When it was 3-0, obviously the game was getting away from us, but I still felt confident that we could get back in the game."

Jon Klemm opened the scoring in the first period, beating Dwayne Roloson from in close after taking a feed from Eric Lindros.

The Stars' centre knocked Ladislav Smid off the puck behind the Oilers net, then found Klemm in front for his first of the season.

In the second, Jere Lehtinen increased the Stars' lead taking a pass from Jussi Jokinen in front, and lifting it over Roloson from in close.

Less than two minutes later, Philippe Boucher added to his team-leading point total, taking advantage of a fortuitous bounce off Daniel Tjarnqvist's skate.

FRUSTRATING

"It's frustrating, we battled back hard and we had chances to tie the game up be we weren't able to," said centre Shawn Horcoff.

Following Boucher's goal, MacTavish called a timeout to regroup his troops.

They responded.

Marc-Andre Bergeron started things off blowing a shot through the legs of Stars' goaltender Marty Turco while on a two-man advantage.

The goal was the Oilers first on the power play in 31 attempts dating back to the last time the teams played in Dallas on Dec. 8.

Joffrey Lupul then added another power-play goal 30 seconds from the end of the period to pull the Oilers within one.

"It was nice to get that monkey off our back a little bit," Bergeron said. "It's funny how our power-play works. It's pretty relaxed when things are going well.

"It seems to be easier to make some plays. When everything is going wrong it's the complete opposite, and the worst thing about it is that it's the same players out there.

"Sometimes we look like magicians out there and other times we look like peewees."

SO CLOSE ...

Lupul came closest to tying the game in the third period, but Turco made a big save on him with less than three minutes in the game.

Turco was solid despite only having to turn away 20 shots to preserve the victory.

The Stars' goaltender was not in a generous mood during the holiday season.

That was especially so against Horcoff, who finished with two assists, but was also robbed on a couple of occasions.

"He's playing well right now," Horcoff said. "We just had to continue to get pucks to him through traffic or whatever.

"Every time a goalie is at the top of his game you have to continue to press and go as hard as you can at him. Tonight, we just fell a little short."

NOTES: Fernando Pisani took a puck on the chin at the morning skate and needed stitches to repair the damage, but was good to go ... The Oilers will now have a two-day Christmas break. They'll go for their 1,000th franchise regular-season win again when they host the L.A. Kings on Thursday.


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