Texas Stars Report: Giving Away Points at Home
Sounds like a familiar story for Dallas and Texas fans this season...
This could be the Dallas or Texas Stars report at this point. Texas returned home this past weekend and needed a big pair of games against the visiting Rockford IceHogs (Chicago Blackhawks) to get themselves solidified in playoff position.
Well, the post game headline for Saturday's game included the word 'flatulent', if that tells you anything.
In 7th place coming into the weekend, Texas earned just one point out of four and dropped their league-worst eighth game when leading after two periods.
Who's playoff eligible?
This week's trade deadline also serves as a trigger for AHL playoff eligibility. Only players on the AHL roster at the trade deadline are eligible to play in the playoffs. Dallas assigned Curtis McKenzie and Brett Ritchie just before the deadline. They then recalled those two and Patrik Nemeth immediately after. All three are now eligible for the AHL playoffs.
This also means that Jyrki Jokipakka and John Klingberg are not eligible for the AHL playoffs. That's an interesting turn as it had been believed that Klingberg would return for playoff experience and further that Jokipakka was less far along the development curve than Klingberg. If Klingberg was going, surely Jokipakka would be too. In the end, neither will play for Texas in the playoffs.
Rockford IceHogs Hand Texas 12th OT Loss of the Season
If nothing else, the new overtime rules have been exciting for fans in Cedar Park. Unfortunately, they haven't translated to points for the Texas Stars this season. Texas suffered its league-worst 12th overtime loss Friday against the visiting Rockford IceHogs.
"3-on-3 is our nemesis right now," said Coach Laxdal. "We had some chances to score. Meech has a good look. Nemeth has a good look where we don't get a shot off. Usually when you don't score, you know what's going to happen right after that."
Jack Campbell "deserved a better fate," according to Greg Rallo. In his first start for the Stars since January 20th, Campbell played well, stopping several breakaways and power play chances, but ultimately suffered the loss in OT.
Greg Rallo gave the summary of the IceHogs' effort on the night.
"They're the classic case of team without superstars that just plays hard. They are constantly transitioning quick. We have to limit our turnovers and keep it in their ends."
Rockford controlled the action in the first period, outshooting Texas 11-5 and out chancing them 13-4. Their control led to the only goal of the period from either squad. Brandon Mashinter scored on the power play as a strange bounce off the boards put the puck behind Jack Campbell, who had squared to the initial shot.
"Rockford had a good energy early on," said Laxdal. "We battled back to find some energy in the second and we got better as the game went along."
Greg Rallo evened things up on the power play in the second period. Off the pass from Derek Meech in the corner, Rallo beat Michael Leighton for his 19th of the year.
Mark McNeill regained the lead for Rockford on a very nice individual effort, cutting across the crease left to right and beating Campbell to the right post on the play.
The eventful second closed with Scott Glennie scoring his eighth of the season. The play was generated off a nice effort by Patrik Nemeth to sneak down from the point and take the initial shot. Faille's rebound shot went out to Glennie, who found twine for the 2-2 score.
Travis Morin found the scoring touch that brought him the AHL MVP trophy last season in the third period to push the game to overtime. Morin carried the puck through half of the offensive zone, deked a Rockford defender out of his jock and found an open Jamie Oleksiak. The former first-rounder one-timed the puck past Leighton, who was not expecting the shot in the slightest.
The Stars made it to OT on the goal but fell in the 3-on-3 portion. The frenetic frame ended with Pierre-Cedric Labrie's goal immediately after a chance by the Stars at the other end. Such is usually the way in the 3-on-3 OT, as Laxdal indicated in postgame.
Flatulent Third Period Fatal for Texas in 6-3 Loss
Putting it simply, Coach Laxdal had the assessment of the Stars' Saturday night effort.
"If you go back and reflect on the game, I think they outplayed us start to finish. I don't think we deserved to win tonight."
It's not like Texas didn't have chances for the victory. Up 3-2 after two periods, Texas dropped a winnable game by allowing four goals in the final frame.
"We're up going into the third period and we have to find a way to close it out," said Kevin Henderson. "This is a team we need to catch. Being at home, we have to find a way to win."
Texas and Rockford swapped goals in the second period with each club getting an even strength and a power play tally. The Stars saw Justin Dowling score on a one-timer and Kevin Henderson tally his second of the year to make it 2-2 late in the frame.
Travis Morin found himself uncovered in the right wing circle and Gemel Smith feathered a pass over to him for the one-time bid that made it 3-2.
The Stars would start the third on two near-consecutive power plays but couldn't cash in on either.
Laxdal assessed, "They're a physical team and we aren't built to be a big heavy team. They're going to take penalties and we have to take advantage of that."
Greg Rallo and Cameron Gaunce found themselves in the box just after the stars PP and Rockford as able to take advantage of that chance. Laxdal thought the Gaunce cross-checking minor was a soft one, but it made it 5-on-3 for Rockford for 84 seconds nonetheless.
Garrett Ross scored for the Hogs to tie the game on the two-man advantage.
Then the game became The Phillip Danault Show. Coming off a Texas power play, Danault stormed down the ice with Rockford and potted his first of the night. Two minutes later, it was 5-3 thanks to Danault again. He finished the hat trick into the empty net four minutes later.
The Stars tried valiantly to get back into the game after ceding the fifth goal, pulling Campbell with over three minutes left in the frame. Campbell, who started his second game in as many nights this evening, took the loss with 35 saves on 40 shots. He didn't look great, but really this was a team failure more than it could be pinned on any one player.
The Week Ahead
The Stars play the Iowa Wild (Minnesota Wild) this Friday. It's their only game of the week.
Maxime Fortunus appears ready to return from injury this weekend. Branden Troock has missed a few games, day-to-day.