Saturday, February 24, 2018

Four-Goal Second Period Puts Texas Past Milwaukee 5-2

(Credit: Derek Sparta/Texas Stars)
It was tight playoff hockey against Milwaukee for a third game in a row. That is, until it wasn't. In just 56 seconds in the second period, the Admirals saw their 1-0 lead evaporate into a 3-1 deficit as Texas roared to life offensively against usually stingy Anders Lindback.

"Huge weekend for us," said defenseman Andrew O'Brien, who scored the game winner and added an assist. "And it's nice to get two wins against a team that traded you away."

Milwaukee scored first, but the Stars had tons of chances in the period.

"Lindback did a great job keeping the score 0-0," said Texas coach Derek Laxdal. "We had four grade A scoring chances we should have buried on him. He did what he had to do."

However, Texas got even quickly and without mercy in the second period. Petter Granberg kneed one of the Stars, and Brian Flynn stepped up and took exception. It wasn't a full-on fight, but the pair got two each for roughing, setting the stage for 4-on-4.

"Give Brian Flynn a lot of credit because he sparked our team, He stood up for his team and that gave us a bit of a spark in the 4-on-4. It was a huge turning point in the game."

Brent Regner went first with a good keep on the left point, a walk of the blue line and a floating slapper to beat Lindback and tie things at one. With the goal not yet announced in the building, the Stars went again, just 14 seconds later. Sheldon Dries got the rebound on a Tommy Thompson shot for the 2-1 lead. Milwaukee took their timeout, but it didn't stop the bleeding.

Andrew O'Brien scored his aforementioned game-winner on another rebound, his first of the year, just 42 seconds later. In all, Milwaukee saw their lead turn around in less than a minute.

Three minutes later, Travis Morin scored from a sharp angle off the right wing side, and it was pretty clear the game was over. Texas and Milwaukee traded goals in the final frame, but those few minutes in the second put the Ads in too much of a hole to recover.

"[Lindback's] a great goalie," noted O'Brien. "He doesn't let many in like that, so I'm a little bit surprised."

Texas didn't need the goaltending as much tonight, but they got it anyways. Mike McKenna took sole possession of the 10th spot in all-time AHL wins with 35 stops of 37 shots. "He's in a really good groove right now. He's know what that second half is all about. We've been relying on him a bit and he's been giving us great performance."

Texas could have easily won the game by an even wider margin as the offense was clicking all over the ice. Colin Markison had at least three solid chances at a goal, including a scintillating shorthanded opportunity he just missed on.

"He's got great speed," said Laxdal. "Probably one of the fastest guys in the league. The feedback on Markison is that you'll get 9 or 10 breakaways a game, and he'll probably score on one. He's creating with his speed and pushing defense back. He's been a great find. He's been the unsung hero for our team this year."

Dillon Heatherington, who later got an assist on Dowling's third period goal, missed a tough backdoor play by just a few inches in the early third. Every line had chances.

"I'm happy with how the team is responding. It's just simple plays. When we try and get cute, we don't get the chances. The group we have now has done a good job of playing simple hockey, checking well and staying above the puck. When we get [Hintz and McKenzie] back, it will be like getting a player at the trade deadline."

The NHL trade deadline, by the way, is Monday. Texas plays in Chicago on Tuesday for a rare day game.

Tonight's lines:
Gurianov-Dowling-Flynn
Morin-Dickinson-Markison
Thompson-Dries-Rallo
Mangene-Fyten-Laberge

Bodnarchuk-Hansson
Heatherington-Regner
O'Brien-Bayreuther

McKenna

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Kelleher, Scarlett, Paliotta (scratch)
McKenzie, Hintz (injured)

Roope Hintz is day-to-day. The Stars tried to get him in today, but he wasn't ready this morning. He will try again Tuesday in Chicago.

Tonight's attendance was 6,110.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Milwaukee - February 24 2018

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Milwaukee Admirals

            Texas Stars                         Milwaukee Admirals
    28-19-5-2, 58 pts, .583      v.      26-23-4-1, 57 pts, .528
   #3 Pacific Division                       #5 Central Division

February 24th at 7:00 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

The Stars have had Milwaukee's number this year, but that doesn't mean past results guarantee future success. The Ads had a bucket load of shots last night, 36 in total, but it was Mike McKenna who got Texas the W. Really, both goaltender played very well. It could have easily been a 6-5 final either way.

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Coach Laxdal mentioned last night that he didn't want to concentrate too much on mentioning slow starts as it might become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Coming out of the first scoreless, as Texas did last night, would be a great outcome if for no other reason than the club isn't behind to get started.

The Admirals haven't had a chance to flex their top ten power play against the Stars. In two games the Ads have scored just once, last night on a weird 5-on-5 play that was technically shorthanded with Anders Lindback on the bench late. If Texas can continue not giving up opporutnities to play 5-on-4, as they did last night with just two penalties, the point will be moot.

Stars injury/call up report:
McKenzie (injured)

Admirals Web Resources:
Twitter: @mkeadmirals

Friday, February 23, 2018

Stars 3-1 Win Over Admirals Puts McKenna in Top 10 in AHL Wins

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Coming off a pretty successful three game road trip in which they collected four points, the Texas Stars continued trending in the right direction with a 3-1 hard-earned win over the Milwaukee Admirals. Mike McKenna put together another excellent performance between the pipes, stopping 35 of 36 shots and moving into the top 10 of career wins for AHL goaltenders with 218.

Stars coach Derek Laxdal was complimentary of the veteran netminder after the game. “If you look at his last year down the stretch, he was one of the best goaltenders in the league. He really stepped up his game. He’s a veteran goaltender that’s been real solid for us. He’s a little unorthodox in his style but he gets the job done.”

The top line for the Stars, which consisted of Justin Dowling, Denis Gurianov and Brian Flynn generated five total points in the game. Laxdal liked what he saw from the group and explained his lineup decision after the game. “We’re trying to get [Dowling and Flynn] to shoot the puck more so that was the idea with that group. That was the idea with putting [Gurianov] on the left side because we knew that [Gurianov] always shoots the puck and creates offense.”

The Stars were the beneficiaries of two power plays within the first 10 minutes and generated plenty of decent looks. They were getting pucks to the net through traffic but couldn't quite get one past former Star Anders Lindback. The Stars finished the game 1-for-5 on the power play.

The first period was scoreless, but the Stars had a couple of nice looking odd-man rushes in the frame that just missed including one from Gurianov setting up Matt Mangene across the crease. That play was a foreshadowing of things to come in the third period when Mangene would return the favor on the power play, setting up Gurianov for a goal.

Dowling commented on Gurianov’s play saying “Denis was great tonight. Once that kid gets his feet moving he’s hard to stop.”

A little over five minutes into the second period, rookie defenseman Gavin Bayreuther broke open the scoring with a slapshot from the point. Dowling made a clever play along the boards, protecting then dropping the puck back to Bayreuther on the right side where he was able to play the puck with his forehand.

Flynn had the secondary assist on the goal and initiated the play with deft puck protection. It was a common theme for Flynn in the game as the winger was quietly making the right play on every shift, especially on the power play. He and Dowling both had two points a piece in the game.

“He’s played in the NHL the last five years,” said Dowling about his connection with Flynn. “So that makes it pretty easy. We’ve had chemistry right from camp. I think we got away from it a little bit at Christmas time, and obviously you didn’t see us playing together. Now you can see it where we’re finding our chemistry again and finding our touch.”

Other than the Bayreuther goal, Lindback was strong in the second period, especially when he had to break up a couple more rushes. “Lindback was outstanding and kept them in the game,” said Laxdal. “It could have been 2-0 or 3-0.” In the opposite net, McKenna stayed perfect through two periods while the Admirals fired 21 shots on net.

The Admirals held onto the puck for well over a minute during a delayed penalty five minutes into the third period. McKenna had to make his best save of the night on a quick wrister from the slot. McKenna didn’t think his in-game heroics were anything special. “Just trying to get my eyes on the puck and be steady, and square, and all those things that can bring you success. Nothing too different than normal.”

As well as Lindback had played up to that point, he committed a serious blunder a few shifts later. Staring down an incoming forechecker, he hastily played the puck up over the glass for a delay of game penalty. The Stars finally cashed in on the fourth chance of the game with the Mangene to Gurianov connection that almost worked in the first period.

With 2:26 remaining in the game, the Stars went on another power play, and the Admirals emptied their net when they got possession. It paid off momentarily when defenseman Trevor Murphy scored on the rush, ending McKenna’s shutout bid. Though he didn’t get the goose egg he wanted, it was still a special night for him.

“I did have one goal and that was to at least crack to top 10 this year. So it’s really cool. There’s some really good goaltenders that have been in that club, and I’m honored to be there with them.”

With a minute to go, Dowling rewarded Flynn with a pass that set up an empty net goal, and both players picked up their second points. Dowling expects more of the same playoff atmosphere in tomorrow night’s game. “The last few games have been playoff style games. I think it’s going to be like that the rest of the way. If you look at our division, every team is solid. You’re not going to get any easy games anymore.”

The Stars wrap up their back-to-back set against the Milwaukee Admirals on Saturday, February 24th. The puck drops at 7:00 PM CST.

Tonight's lines:
Gurianov-Dowling-Flynn
Morin-Dickinson-Markison
Thompson-Dries-Rallo
Mangene-Fyten-Laberge

Bodnarchuk-Hansson
Heatherington-Regner
O'Brien-Bayreuther

McKenna

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Kelleher, Hintz, Scarlett, Paliotta (scratch)
McKenzie (injured)

Tonight's attendance was 5,839.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Milwaukee - February 23 2018

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Milwaukee Admirals

            Texas Stars                         Milwaukee Admirals
    27-19-5-2, 56 pts, .575      v.      26-22-4-1, 57 pts, .538
   #4 Pacific Division                       #5 Central Division

February 23rd at 7:30 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

Coming off a successful three-game road trip that netted them four points, the Texas Stars return home to take on the Milwaukee Admirals. The two teams squared off last week in a matinee affair that saw Sheldon Dries score the lone goal and Mike McKenna posting a shutout. 


(credit: Milwaukee Admirals)
The Admirals have had a similar roller coaster arc to their season in a less forgiving division. They are backstopped by former Star Anders Lindback, who is having a solid season. The Olympics are over for their leading scorer, Bobby Butler, but don't expect him to play in this game. In Butler's absence, Emil Pettersson has tied him in points (34) and is carrying the pail offensively.

 One lingering unknown for the Stars is the availability of Jason Dickinson. He could be called up again to the Dallas Stars at any second given the status of Martin Hanzal, who suffered another injury in Thursday's game against Anaheim. Hanzal has been graded as day-to-day for the rest of the season, so expect Dickinson's status to continue to be tied to Hanzal's health.

Before last week's game against Milwaukee, we at 100 Degree Hockey had our annual exchange with Daniel Lavender at Admiral's Roundtable. You can go a little more in depth by reading Daniel's takes on the Admirals here

Stars injury/call up report:
McKenzie (injured)

Admirals Web Resources:
Twitter: @mkeadmirals

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Texas Stars Assign D Shane Hanna to Idaho

The Texas Stars have assigned defenseman Shane Hanna to the ECHL's Idaho Steelheads. With Texas adding Andrew O'Brien to the lineup, the Stars have been scratching three defensemen in the past three games. Hanna was the odd man out, so he heads to Boise.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Wednesday that rookie defenseman Shane Hanna has been returned to the ECHL affiliate of the team, the Idaho Steelheads.

Hanna, 22, has appeared in 14 games for the Stars and tallied two assists this season. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound defenseman spent the previous four seasons playing at Michigan Tech before beginning his pro career. In 28 games with the Steelheads, the Salmon Arm, British Columbia, native has 15 points (4-11=15).

Monday, February 19, 2018

Texas Stars Drop Tight Contest Against Iowa 2-1

(Credit: Iowa Wild)
The Texas Stars picked up four of six points on the weekend but couldn't come back in tonight's contest against Iowa to make it a clean weekend sweep. Michael Paliotta opened the scoring with his first as a Star but Iowa tallied a goal in each period thereafter to eke out a 2-1 win in Des Moines.

Landon Bow drew in for his first start of the weekend and stopped 25 of 27 shots against him. Overall, shots in the game were spread very evenly across the teams and periods with 27 for both sides and 18 combined shots in each period. Iowa's game winning goal came in the final frame on the power play with Greg Rallo in the box for hooking. Texas could not convert on their pair of opportunities, both coming in the last 10 minutes when they were down by a goal. Viktor Loov picked up a rare penalty in the game as well with an unsportsmanlike call for "disputing decision". That is likely what most unsprostamnlike calls are, but it is rare to see that in the game sheet.

The loss dropped Texas to fourth place but only by a thousandth of a point. The Stars return home for a pair against Milwaukee this weekend.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Kelleher, Hanna, Scarlett, Hansson (scratch)
McKenzie (injured)

Today's attendance was 3,212.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Iowa - February 19 2018

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Iowa Wild

Texas Stars
27-18-5-2, 61 pts, 0.587
#3 Pacific Division
atIowa Wild
25-16-7-3, 60 pts, 0.588
#4 Central Division
February 19th at 7:00 PM
Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, IA

A rare Monday game comes into focus tonight as the Stars finish off a 3-in-3 weekend, all on the road, with a chance to sweep the trip and further cement their place in the playoff race. A win keeps them in 3rd, but a loss will drop them to 4th. Yesterday's loss for the Wild dipped them all the way to 4th place in the Central, technically a tie for 3rd with Chicago. However, it's extremely clear that the entire Western Conference is highly competitive this season.

(Credit: Iowa Wild)
Landon Bow has to figure in today as Mike McKenna has started the last two games, both wins. As always, Texas should expect a second night response from the Wild. Iowa has only lost in regulation back-to-back twice this season: to open the year against Milwaukee and two weeks ago in California. This will be the last game of the season in Iowa for Texas, and the season series will complete in two weeks at home on March 7th.

Stars injury/call up report:
McKenzie (injury)

Wild Web Resources:
Website: iowawild.com
Blog (Official): I Wild Blog
Twitter: @IAWild