You never quite know what you have in a team until it gets tough. You never really know what you have in rookies until they catch a break and show you what they've got.
The Stars rolled into Cox Convention Center in OKC last night with seemingly everything riding against them. The Barons were on a seven-game win streak and had a chance to stretch it to eight against the Stars. It would have been their second eight-game streak of the season. Their goalie, Laurent Brossoit, had lost just once since November 15th and was responsible for six of the seven wins in the standing streak.
The Stars had just lost to second-to-last Charlotte, and the travel to OKC is notorious for being tough on teams.
But they won.
The next week brings three teams that are all below the Stars in the standings. It should be six points. It is a chance to put themselves back above water in the playoff race and make some headway toward the middle of the playoff pack. They are just three points back from fifth place.
Time to prove they belong.
After seeing 3rd period leads collapse through much of the first three months of their season, the Stars got a huge win by coming from behind in the third period for the first time this season on Satyrday. Coming into the contest, Texas was 0-10-3-0 when trailing after two periods. Facing a 1-0 deficit after forty, Brendan Ranford put in two goals on the night, and Gemel Smith tallied his fourth goal of the year, all in the past week.
An uneventful first period saw the teams head to the locker room scoreless after twenty. Matej Stransky had the only penalty for either team in the frame, which Texas killed off.
Justin Shugg got the opening tally for the Checkers, his team-leading eleventh of the season. The winger broke in alone and defeated Jussi Rynnas backhand five hole with Scott Valentine and Connor Hardowa a few strides behind in pursuit.
Texas came alive in the third period to spur the come-from-behind victory. Brendan Ranford's one-timer off the pass from Derek Meech got it started early in the frame. In the back half of the periood, the Stars scored three more times within five minutes.
Gemel Smith, off the pass from Matej Stransky, put in his fourth of the year at 13:40. Brendan Ranford went again with a nice toe drag move to beat John Muse for the 3-1 lead just under two minutes later. Charlotte emptied the net to try for the comeback. Before many had even noticed the missing goalie, Texas had earned possession, and Radek Faksa collected his fourth of the year into the yawning cage.
Looking to break their bad habit of losing the second game against Charlotte, the Stars were unsuccessful this afternoon in North Carolina. Texas dropped a 5-2 decision at the hands of the Checkers to end their winning streak and see their record fall to 14-11-8-0. Without the benefit of the two points from the game, the Stars stayed in 9th place in the West.
Charlotte scored the first three goals of the game, including two in a first period where they outshot the Stars 16-5. Jussi Rynnas got the start but would not last the full game as Jack Campbell relieved him in the third period. Rynnas allowed four goals on 24 shots. Recently assigned Jyrki Jokipakka got into the scoring to break up Drew MacIntyre's shutout in the second period. Derek Meech was the only other goal scorer for Texas.
The Stars attempted a comeback late in the game with a power play that they turned into a 6-on-4 advantage by pulling Jack Campbell. That lasted all of 18 seconds before Trevor Carrick scored into the empty net.
The Barons got the first one, but Texas finished the fight. Three rookies collected goals to drive the Stars to a 5-2 victory over the hot Oklahoma City Barons. Coming into the game, OKC was riding a seven-game win streak. The Stars chased Laurent Brossoit after their fourth goal, handing him just his second loss since mid-November.
Gemel Smith, Derek Hulak (2) and Jesse Root all found the net for the Stars. Travis Morin opened the scoring in his first game of AHL action in almost a month.
The Week Ahead
The Stars get some home cooking this week with a three-game stand at the Cedar Park Center. All three teams rank lower than Texas in the standings and the set should be a great chance for the Stars to collect six points. The Iowa Wild (Minnesota Wild) visit on Friday before the Toronto Marlies (Toronto Maple Leafs) return on Saturday. The Rochester American (Buffalo Sabres) will finish out the set with their only visit to Cedar Park this season.
The Stars had a lot of maladies affecting them over the past week. Rookies stepping up and the return of Julius Honka and Travis Morin also helps to smooth out those issues. Justin Dowling and Radek Faksa are currently out. Branden Troock left last night's game with an injury. He was unable to put any weight on his leg as he left the ice with assistance from training staff.