The Stars celebrate Matt Fraser's 11th power play goal of the season last night in Cedar Park - Josh Rasmussen/Texas Stars
There was good, and there was bad this week. After winning in comeback fashion in Houston, Texas dropped a 5-4 shootout loss to 14th place Rockford after leading by three goals in the first.
But again, it's not time to panic.
The Stars (27-12-4-3, 61 pts, #1 Western) are still in first place. Every point counts though, and Texas knows they let one get away on Tuesday night against the Rockford IceHogs (Chicago Blackhawks). After leading 4-1 after twenty, Texas gave up three goals as Rockford chased Cristopher Nilstorp from the net in his first start since coming off IR. Nilstorp looked tentative and, for tonight, just didn't have the angles and confidence to win when the pressure mounted.
"That's just rust from not playing," said Texas Stars head coach Willie Desjardins. "He's a good goaltender but for whatever reason he didn't have one of his better games."
On the positive side, Matt Fraser has set a new club record for longest point streak at eleven games. He bested his own previous record of ten. Fraser has eight goals and eight assists in that time and a plus-7 rating. On the season overall he has 22 goals (including 11 on the power play), 11 assists and a plus-13.
Overall, the Stars are on a seven game point streak and looking for more with a Canadian swing coming this weekend. After facing the #14 team in the conferece, they will visit #15, the Hamilton Bulldogs (Montreal Canadiens) on Saturday. That game is a must win after the deflating loss to the IceHogs.
In the playoff race, Texas has a game in hand over their closest follower, the Charlotte Checkers (Carolina Hurricanes) but only lead them by two points. The two clubs won't meet again until mid-March.
The Houston Aeros (Minnesota Wild) would score first, but Texas would surge back to score two and win their 27th game of the season. The newly reassembled line of Matt Fraser, Colton Sceviour and Reilly Smith was on the ice for both Texas goals. Tyler Sloan had his second of the year for the game-winner and Matt Fraser extended his point streak with a goal and an assist. Reilly Smith had two assists in his first game back from Dallas. Jack Campbell stopped 17 of 18.
The Stars and IceHogs saw a three goal lead evaporate in a game between the two for the third time this season. This time, it was Texas on the losing end. After going up 4-1 in the first period, the Stars would not score another goal, losing 5-4 in an eleven round shootout.
"We had a great start and capitalized on the power play," said Francis Wathier, who had his first goal of the season. "But the second and third period [effort] was not what our team stands for."
Coach Desjardins agreed on the effort, "They have a pretty talented team and we had trouble holding them in the corners."
Cristopher Nilstorp ceded three bad goals in the second and third and gave way to Jack Campbell, who stopped eight in regulation and OT and nine of eleven in the shootout, but ultimately took the loss.
Wathier added, "We have to get better, but it's not a panic button."
Texas got goals from Toby Petersen, Francis Wathier, Colton Sceviour and Matt Fraser.
The Week Ahead
Texas goes to Ontario this week for Tim Horton's and hockey. First up are the last place Hamilton Bulldogs. On Sunday, Texas will have a matinee match with the Toronto Marlies (Toronto Maple Leafs). Finally, they will return home for a game against the Houston Aeros on Tuesday.