The Texas Stars (40-26-4-6, 90 pts, #3 West) slogged their way through another busy weekend in the AHL, taking only one of their three games. Texas had most of the week off to rest up and work on strategy before a 3-in-3 weekend series.
The weekend started with an OT win over the Chicago Wolves to complete the season sweep of the Atlanta Thrasher's farm club. They immediately turned around and headed to Oklahoma City, arriving at 5:30 AM, where they dropped a 2-0 decision. Travel is always a difficult consideration in the AHL, since teams want to pack the house with weekend games. The Stars went back to Cedar Park Center, again arriving at 5:30 AM, and fell to the Rockford IceHogs in a matinee showing by a score of 5-1.
Despite all of that, the Stars have the playoffs well within their sights. Their magic number is currently at four with four games remaining on their schedule, one home and three away. It is anyone's guess who will be behind them in the division standings on the last day of the season, but it looks like the Houston Aeros will be the likely first round playoff matchup. Road trip, anyone?
Individual game reports and some injury news relating to Trevor Ludwig inside...
The Stars jumped out to a two goal lead in this one thanks to tallies from Colton Sceviour and Maxime Fortunus. Chicago battled back to make it 2-2 early in the third period and the game would take overtime to decide. Philip Larsen was the overtime hero for the Stars, one-timing a puck in the high slot for the winner just 38 seconds in.
"It was a really good win for us," said Larsen. "Chicago is a team that's fighting for the playoffs, too. Every point counts and we took two tonight." Texas extended its winning streak to a season high five with the victory.
Texas traveled to the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City for the last time this regular season and faced Jeff Deslauriers, who gave the Barons their second shutout in as many games on Saturday. Goals from Kevin Montgomery and Alexandre Giroux would be all the Barons needed to break the Stars' win streak at five. Richard Bachman performed admirably, stopping 33 of 35, but ultimately taking the loss.
After taking a twenty-four hour jaunt to Oklahoma City, the Texas Stars returned to Cedar Park a tired bunch. The Rockford IceHogs, working on one day's rest and angry from a 7-0 pasting at the hands of the Barons, were waiting for them.
The Stars managed only one goal off the stick of Travis Morin in the contest. The IceHogs put five past rookie Tyler Beskorowany to keep Texas' magic number at 4. "I feel like we played pretty well tonight," said defenseman Matt Stephenson. "We only had three or four mistakes and they managed to score on every one of them."
The Week Ahead
This is the last week of the season in the AHL as well as the NHL. Texas has four games on the schedule. First, a road trip to Peoria will finish the season series with the Rivermen on Wednesday. Then a three-in-three will close the season. The Stars head to Milwaukee Friday, play Oklahoma City at home Saturday and then finish the season on the road against San Antonio on Sunday.
Defenseman Trevor Ludwig is currently out for at least a month with an upper body injury.