Just 1:46 into the game, Francis Wathier and Oreskovic dropped the gloves for a fight that was really more of a bear hugging match but still got the crowd going. The Stars had a lot of great opportunities in the first period but couldn't put one in. The crowd gasped and cheered as the Stars put on one of the best 6 shot first periods I've ever seen. We went to the first intermission tied 0-0.
Matt Climie had a bit of a scary moment just 2 minutes into the second. With the Marlies swarming the net, Francis Wathier got in the crease and kneeled down to stop a puck from going in. This, of course, is not allowed. Only goalies can fall on pucks in the crease. The ensuing penalty shot was almost a goal, but as Kyle Calder came in right to left, the very weak backhand hit the post Climie collected. He looked very good tonight, got the bounces he needed and tracked the puck well.
The Stars didn't waste much time getting on the board after that. Maxime Fortunus bombed one from the top of the blue line in on net. It seemed like it had to go through 3 or 4 players of both teams to get there, but it did. Warren Peters tipped it just enough to get it passed MacDonald, 1-0. This was the type of offense that the Stars needed; take shots even when they aren't pretty and put a guy in front of the net.
The Stars drew up an almost identical play 92 seconds later when Garret Stafford this time nailed a puck from the blue line that was tipped in by Travis Morin, his 8th of the season. Toward the end of the second, the Stars had a 5-on-3 advantage for 53 seconds. It took them 54 seconds to score though, so both minors expired. Again, a defenseman, this time Andrew Hutchinson, slapped one from the blue line. His shot went wide right, and Greg Rallo was there to redirect it behind Joey MacDonald. Now the house was rockin'.
The Marlies scored one right back just 27 seconds later to make it 3-1. Matt Stephenson failed to clear the puck, and on the resulting play, the Marlies managed a good cross crease pass to setup Greenop for his first of the season. This one wasn't on Climie; there should have been a defenseman there to occupy Greenop and Stephenson should have cleared it in the first place.
At this point, though, the game was very much in hand. The Marlies weren't getting much and Texas was playing lockdown defense for the most part. On the power play 11 minutes into the third, Fortunus would add another insurance goal to make it 4-1. Then with 5 minutes left in the game, Greg Rallo found Francis Wathier on a 2-on-1 breakaway to make it 5-1. The goal celebration was cut short by the petulance of Marlies' RW Berry, who came into start a fight with Warren Peters but ended up getting pummeled by Francis Wathier. Wathier was an assist away from a Gordie Howe hat-trick tonight.
The Stars didn't give up soft goals early or much at all. They took the shots they were given and didn't try to be pretty with their shooting. It was a great game from the net on out. Matt Climie has got to feel good about this win, his first since his last home start on January 6th. The last time the Stars got a 1 goal or less game out of him was a month before that on December 6th. Maybe I was wrong about needing to start Ford tonight?
By the way, how good is Max Fortunus? He played last night in Montreal with the Stars then came into the CPC tonight and had 1 G, 1 A, was +1 and 2nd star of the game. You have got to love this guy.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:Wilson, Gazdic, and Krahn (injured)
McCulloch and Ludwig (scratched)
Lukowich (NHL call up)
The Stars and the entire AHL now take a break for the AHL All-Star game in Portland, Maine. Vishnevskiy will be the Stars' representative in the contest, and he will start the game. Todd Ford will also participate in the ECHL All-Star game, an honor he earned after garnering a 16-6-1 record with the Stingrays. No worries though; he will be with the team for a while.