The Dallas Stars have the Edmonton Oilers right where they want 'em

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Elimination, schme-limination.

The Dallas Stars have the Edmonton Oilers right where they want ’em.

Oh, sure. One more loss and they’ll be the ones seeing stars, turning around and tucking tail all the way back to Texas, wondering how the Western Conference champions of the regular season couldn’t get it done in the Western Conference Final.

Whatever the mathematics and statistical data has to say doesn’t mean anything when it comes to the scoreboard at Rogers Place by the end of Game 6 on Sunday (6 p.m., Sportsnet).

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And anyone in Edmonton resting easy since the Oilers took a commanding 3-2 series lead with a convincing 3-1 win in Dallas on Friday is fooling themselves.

The Stars don’t have to win two games in a row in order to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. They’ve already got Game 6 in the bag.

Go ahead, bet on it. Bet the farm, if you like. It’s as sure a thing as there ever was in sports.

The Stars are the best road team in the NHL, going 26-10-5 over the regular season this year to propel themselves to the top of the conference standings with 113 points.

And they followed up by being the best road team in the playoffs, too, only having lost once in six away games before dropping Game 4 to the Oilers on Wednesday to knot the series 2-2.

And while that might seem like losing back-to-back at this point gave Edmonton all the momentum they need to finish things off and punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2006, think again.

It’s the Stars who will snatch back the momentum with another win on the road in Game 6, whittling the best-of-seven series down to a single-game elimination showdown for all the proverbial marbles. And anything can happen in one game, no matter whether it’s home ice or away.

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And as we saw a series ago, when the Oilers were the ones behind the 8-ball, needing to win back-to-back wins to clinch a series and move onto the next round, well, it certainly can be done.

So, you’ll have to excuse the Stars if they’re not wearing panic on their sleeves.

“We haven’t had our best, other than probably Game 3 in this series,” Stars forward Matt Duchene. “But the nice thing is we’re still in this series. We’ve just got to win one at a time here.

“We’ve been a bit disjointed offensively this whole series, so hopefully we can find it here next game.”

Even not playing their best, they’ve managed to hang in there with Connor McDavid & Co., a team featuring no fewer than the top-four playoff points leaders in the league as of Saturday morning.

And while he’d like to have a couple of recent goals back, Stars netminder Jake Oettinger has been the better playoff performer in the head-to-head in the crease, earning a 2.25 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage, compared to Stuart Skinner’s 2.59 goals-against average and less-than-stellar .890 save percentage.

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The difference, so far, is more often than not, the Oilers have been to outscore whatever they’ve lacked on the back end.

“We’ve been in this situation before,” Duchene said. “We’ve been in a Game 7 already.

“This team that we’re playing just had the same situation that we’re going into right now. So, this team, we’re never out of it. We have a great hockey team and we’ve got a lot of character in this room and there will be no quit.”

At this point in the post-season proceedings, there isn’t all that much that separates winning from losing anyway. The chore is simply to continue churning away.

It’s not like they have to convince anyone — let alone everyone — that they deserved to win the series, they just have to end up ahead of Edmonton at the finish line.

“You’re at the end here, there’s only four teams left,” Stars head coach Pete DeBoer said of the conference-final round. “These are the best teams in the league. It’s not going to look pretty every night. You’re not going to come out firing shots and making plays in all kinds of room.

“It’s muddy, tight hockey. There’s not a lot of room there. And you get to the end like this, you’ve got two really good teams that are really deep and there’s not a lot of room there. So, it’s not going to feel great a lot of the time, for either team.”

E-mail: [email protected]

On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge

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