Oilers rally from early deficit to beat Stars 5-2, pull even in West final

Best-of-7 NHL semifinal tied 2-2, with Game 5 set for Friday in Dallas
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Mattias Janmark and Leon Draisaitl scored less than one minute apart in the second period as the host Edmonton Oilers battled back from an early two-goal deficit to beat the Dallas Stars 5-2 on Wednesday and even the NHL’s Western Conference final at two games apiece.

Ryan McLeod, Evan Bouchard and Mattias Ekholm, into an empty net, had the other goals for Edmonton. Stuart Skinner made 20 saves. Connor McDavid added two assists.

Wyatt Johnston and Esa Lindell replied for Dallas, which got 24 stops from Jake Oettinger. Jamie Benn had two assists.

The best-of-seven series now shifts back to Dallas for Game 5 on Friday. Game 6 is set for Sunday in Edmonton.

Tied 2-2 after a back-and-forward first period, Edmonton grabbed its first lead at 14:31 of the second when Janmark took a pass from Connor Brown on a short-handed 2-on-1 and buried it for his second goal of the playoffs to send Rogers Place into a frenzy.

Draisaitl doubled the Oilers’ lead 51 seconds later when he connected with Zach Hyman, who had an earlier breakaway stopped, on a give-and-go off the rush for his 10th.

Skinner made a big stop on Evgenii Dadonov with the rink still buzzing to keep Edmonton up 4-2 through 40 minutes.

Dallas came out with energy to start the third, but unlike Monday when the Oilers had no answer, this time Edmonton was able to weather the storm.

The Stars got their second power play with eight minutes left in regulation, but the Oilers killed off their 23rd straight penalty before Ekholm scored his fourth to pick up the franchise’s first home victory in the conference final since May 23, 2006.

Edmonton made three lineup changes as defenceman Philip Broberg drew into the lineup along with McLeod and fellow forward Corey Perry for Vincent Desharnais, Warren Foegele and Sam Carrick.

The move to insert the fleet-footed Broberg came with Dallas having stretched the Oilers’ structure through the first three games by sending forwards bolting from the defensive zone in hopes of a quick transition.

The changes didn’t have the desired effect early as Edmonton, which blew a 2-0 lead in Game 3 before losing 5-3, came out flat to start the first.

Johnston scored his ninth just 58 seconds in when he snapped the game’s first shot past Skinner’s glove on a 2-on-1. Lindell made it 2-0 at 5:29 with his third goal of the playoffs.

Skinner had to be sharp on a Tyler Seguin chance moments later or the Oilers would have been down three.

The crowd gave the home side a sarcastic cheer when Edmonton finally registered its first shot more than eight minutes into the game.

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McLeod breathed life into the Oilers at 13:30 when he popped a loose puck upstairs for his first point of the playoffs after Oettinger couldn’t squeeze Perry’s initial shot.

Bouchard tied it just 2:47 later when the Stars goaltender could only kick McDavid’s initial attempt into the slot for the defenceman to score his sixth.

Edmonton’s power play, which had yet to connect in the series entering Monday, got a chance late in the period and had a couple of terrific looks, including a McDavid redirection that was foiled by Oettinger’s errant goal stick lying in the crease after it was knocked from his grasp.

BLACK AND BLUE

Stars defenceman Chris Tanev (lower-body injury) left in the second period and didn’t return.

NURSE’S DEFENCE

Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse, who entered Wednesday a playoff-worst minus-12, was backed by McDavid before Game 4.

“Big part of our room,” he said. “Gives us everything he’s got.”

BIRTHDAY OFF

Desharnais was a healthy scratch on his 28th birthday. The hulking blueliner, who hit the post in the third period of Game 3, has one assist in 15 playoff appearances this spring.

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press