The Stars had a tough week emotionally. Texas has been plagued by 3rd period goals against, which leads to a deflating experience for the players and the fans alike. Several cross-division rivals visited Cedar Park this week including the renewal of a rivalry born in the playoffs last year with the Hamilton Bulldogs (Montreal Canadiens).
In terms of the Stars' third period struggles, Maxime Fortunus pointed to the game plan: "In the games that we've won this year, we've applied our [game plan] for 60 minutes. As soon as you don't apply it, you make mistakes. In this league, those mistakes end up in your net."
Manitoba Breaks It Open In Third to Down Stars 3-1
(HDH blog link)
The Manitoba Moose (Vancouver Canucks) came into the Cedar Park Center on a 4 game losing streak and with one of their top players on a 19 game scoring drought. Both streaks would end at the CPC on Tuesday night.
Texas and Manitoba traded goals in the first period, with the Stars' goal coming off Greg Rallo. The second period was scoreless.
To look at it, the third period was Texas's in most ways. They had 3 power plays, 19 shots on net and only allowed 3 against. However, it was indeed not the Stars period. Just under eight minutes in, Marco Rosa broke a 19 game scoring drought with a puck wired to the top right corner that beat Beskorowany clean glove side high. It was only Manitoba's second shot of the period. "We have to stop giving up third period goals," lamented Coach Gulutzan. "I thought their goalie was really good and they played with desperation to keep the puck out of the net." Moose goalie Eddie Lack finished with 39 saves on 40 shots and even had an assist.
The Moose finished it off with an empty net tally.
More inside on the rest of the Stars games and the weekly reports on who's hot, not and injuries...
Stars Blank Rampage 3-0 In San Antonio
(HDH blog link)
The Texas Stars had a killer weekend in front of them, but luckily got a few key pieces back in the lineup from Dallas for the game. Facing both division leaders on back-to-back nights, Richard Bachman and Aaron Gagnon's return could not have been better planned. The San Antonio Rampage (Phoenix Coyotes) were first up.
The Stars struck first off the stick of Luke Gazdic, his 4th of the year, on a pretty cross-ice feed from Ondrej Roman. Just as Texas was coming off the PK to start the second, Francis Wathier was pursuing the puck in the Rampage zone on a strong forecheck and forced Joe Fallon into a stickhandling error, which Wathier absolutely crushed to set the score at 2-0.
The play, reminiscent of Wathier's shorthanded goal off Michal Neuvirth's error in the Calder Cup Finals, was not counted as a shorthanded goal, technically, but was one for all intents and purposes. It was Wathier's 10th of the year and came on only the 8th Texas shot of the night.
The Stars finished it off in the third period with an empty net goal from Greg Rallo. The San Antonio fans, who had planned to throw teddy bears on the ice after the first Rampage goal, rained their stuffed toys down upon the surface in protest of their teams' poor performance.
Texas did give up 41 shots in the game, but Richard Bachman stopped them all. "There were a lot of perimeter shots," said Bachman. "We didn't really give up a lot of 'grade A' shots so it was a nice game to come back in to."
Stars Give Up 2 Goal Lead, Fall 3-2 in OT
(HDH blog link)
The Stars returned home to face the North Division leading Hamilton Bulldogs. The ticket staff packed the house with 6,518 in the CPC, but they would unfortunately go home disappointed.
If you left this game after 53 minutes, you would have seen a great game from Texas. A third period collapse killed the Stars' chances again.
Two minutes and thirty-eight seconds into the second period, Travis Morin found the back of the net for his team leading 13th of year. Morin managed the shot reaching his stick across Curtis Sanford to pot a rebound from a Philip Larsen point shot on the wide side of the net. Fabian Brunnstrom had the secondary assist.
Aaron Gagnon added some insurance in the third period, tipping a shot from rookie Cody Chupp for the 2-0 lead. Then it all fell apart. Texas allowed two goals in the last 7 minutes of the period and took the game to overtime. Dustin Boyd would score his second of the night 67 seconds into OT to take the extra point.
All told, Texas took 3 of 4 points from the two division leaders. You might say that's pretty good, but Texas was understandably disappointed. Aaron Gagnon said the team was already focused on the playoffs, ""It's a tight race. You win one night, you're in. You lose the next night, you're out. Come April, you need anything you can get right now."
The Week Ahead
The AHL gives their players a pretty significant holiday break, so Texas only plays a few games this week. The Oklahoma City Barons (Edmonton Oilers) will visit the CPC tonight and then Texas will be off until a Sunday matinee game in Houston against the Aeros (Minnesota Wild).
Travis Morin continued his hot streak with his 13th goal of the season. This week he was 1-1-2 with a plus-2 rating. His line with Greg Rallo and Fabian Brunnstrom on the wings is one of the only consistently together lines in the Stars lineup. Philip Larsen was also plus-3 on the week, being on the ice for all three goals in San Antonio and none aginst on the week.
It's really hard to point to one guy that's having a rough time. Texas wins and loses as a team more than any other squad I've ever seen. The team is still working to make sure that they implement their game plan for a full 60 minutes each night. I'd point to that as what's "not" this week.
Brent Krahn is still sidelined with a lower body injury. Scott McCulloch, a leading scorer early in the year, has come back from an upper body injury thsi week.