Last week's games were not a promising lot for the Texas Stars. Games against three teams that were all below the Stars in the standings yielded a single point. Texas got an unexpected two points from Oklahoma City (Edmonton Oilers) and then dropped two against OKC and San Antonio.
The Stars reached as high as eighth in the Conference but now have dipped to tenth after their recent string of misfortune. They are tied in point percentage with the ninth-place Bulldogs (Montreal Canadiens).
The Stars have been unable to string together more than three wins on the season and never more than four games with points.
It seems the cruelest thing that you can see in a game recap by an opposing team is the claim that they defeated the defending Calder Cup champion. The Stars need to kick into gear to have a chance at defending that Cup.
To be honest, it's a pretty decent draw right now if the Stars can get in as the 8th seed. Oklahoma City is tearing up the standings and looks to be the prohibitive favorite for top seeding. Texas has given OKC fits this year, taking half the games from the best team in the conference and handing them their first shutout of the year this past week. In a short series (first round is only five games), could the Stars upset the Barons if given the chance?
It's possible, but you have to be present to win.
After leading 4-1 early in the second period, Texas gave up the next four goals and finished the game with a 6-5 loss to the visiting Rochester Americans (Buffalo Sabres). Coach Laxdal had a blunt assessment of the contest for Texas.
"We didn't play with enough urgency and attention to detail. We laid an egg halfway through the game tonight, a big ostrich egg."
The Stars had a sellout crowd, and new owner Tom Gaglardi was in the building so it was a bad night to lay an egg.
Laxdal continued, "I thought we sat back a bit when we got up 4-1. Sometimes your mindset tends to think it's going to be an easy game. Even though we were up 4-1, we weren't playing great hockey. We got some breaks. We talked the last couple days on details of our game. If anything, we went away from it and it got worse. We touched base on that after the game."
Jussi Rynnas got the start but only stopped 18 of 22 shots against, getting the pull after two periods. Andrey Makarov didn't have a very auspicious start himself, allowing four Texas goals on the first 13 shots of the game. Travis Morin and Justin Dowling each had two goals in the loss.
No matter what the circumstances, the Stars seem to bring their best game against the OKC Barons. After earning just one of six points at home this past week, the Stars handed OKC their first shutout of the year with a 2-0 victory. Vets Travis Morin and Maxime Fortunus, also the team's two AHL All-Star representatives, were the two goal scorers. Jussi Rynnas earned first-star honors with a 39-save shutout, his second shutout of the year, after being pulled on Wednesday at home. It was the first time all year that the Barons have been held without a goal.
Looking to replicate Friday night's magic, the Texas Stars fell short in Oklahoma City this evening by a 5-2 final. Jussi Rynnas got the call again but could not pull off the stellar performance he had last night while Texas' offense was unable to give him much run support in the effort. Texas scored the first goal in the contest, but they would allow the next three, which would be enough to put the game out of reach for the visitors.
Jussi Rynnas stopped 28 of 32 in the game. Richard Bachman halted 30 of 32.
Derek Meech opened the scoring for Texas on the power play halfway through the first. Former Star Richard Bachman couldn't collect the initial shot from former teammate Greg Rallo, and Meech found the net. The goal halted a streak of 36 killed penalties for the Barons.
Andrew Miller got a rebound goal of his own behind Rynnas just 88 seconds later. Iiro Pakarinen had the initial shot on that even-strength marker. That would put the score at one all after forty with the Stars leading shots at 13-10.
Early in the second period, OKC jumped ahead off the fourth goal of the year for Bogdan Yakimov. It was a skill move for the rookie, who picked a corner on Rynnas from the dot for the 2-1 lead. A few minutes later, vet Jason Williams got a close-in goal off the scramble at the net to make it 3-1.
Late in the second, it appeared Texas had cut the lead to 3-2 on a shot by Justin Dowling. Texas alternate captain Cameron Gaunce begged for a review of the play at the next stoppage to no avail. The period would end at 3-1 as a result.
Dowling made sure he got on the scoresheet in the third period though. The 3rd year Star lofted a pass up to Derek Hulak on a Texas penalty kill. Hulak beat Bachman, scoring the first shorthanded goal against the Barons in the 2014-15 season.
Yakimov scored his second of the night with just under seven minutes left in third period to salt things away for OKC. Pakarinen potted an empty netter in the game's final minute to end all doubt.
The Stars opened the scoring but couldn't make it stick as they allowed the next five goals for San Antonio (Florida Panthers). Texas fell by a final score of 5-2 on Scott Glennie's late power play goal. In positive news, Texas was perfect on the penalty kill to extend their lead as the best in the league. Goaltending continued to be an open issue with Jack Campbell stopping just 21 of 26 shots against him (.808 SV%).
The Week Ahead
Texas has two games against the Chicago Wolves (St. Louis Blues) this weekend and then the AHL All-Star Break will give most players a short break. Maxime Fortunus and Travis Morin will head to Utica, New York for the game. It will be broadcast on FOX Sports Southwest locally and across Texas.
Kevin Henderson is added to the injured list this week. He has an upper body injury. The Stars still have Radek Faksa and Branden Troock among the wounded.