After a night with 7 goals and 4 fights between the these same two teams, tonight's game was almost boring in comparison. No, just kidding, it was still a great game.
The Stars drew first blood at 13:32 of the 1st period when a simple dump-in went wrong for the Heat. The puck rimmed around the dashers and Keetley, the Heat goalie, tried to stop the puck. Failing this, he left the task to his defender. He fumbled the puck and Travis Morin's strong puck presence got it back for a shot on net that rebounded to Greg Rallo for a 1-0 lead.
All night it seemed like the Stars and Heat wanted to go at it, but the refs were quick to jump into any scrums very quickly, including one 3 minutes into the 2nd between Grantham and Ludwig in front of the net, which resulted in matching roughing minors. Grantham racked up two fighting majors last night, but none were assessed to any player tonight.
Texas put another one on the board on a bang-bang play. Aaron Gagnon won an offensive zone faceoff back to Maxime Fortunus at the right point. Fortunus bombed it in on net and scored. The goal reaction from the crowd even had a delayed reaction as not everyone was sure a goal had been scored, given the velocity with which the puck rebounded out of the net. Texas was up 2-0.
Texas would give back two in the last 3 minutes of the second though. Cunning scored from Murray and Meyers on the gloveside with a shot from the left-wing circle. And on a Texas power play, Van der Gulik would score shorthanded. Maxime Fortunus attempted to stop a puck along the dashers that had come out of the zone. He tripped and fell to the ice, leaving Sutter to come in unmolested. Climie stopped the initial shot but Van der Gulik put home the tying goal over a sprawled-out Matt Climie. So we went to the 2nd intermission tied at 2.
Texas got on the power play half way through the third period and broke the tie. Greg Rallo fed a pass along the blue line to Vishneskiy who had his stick back cocked and ready to fire. His shot ticked off Francis Wathier's stick in front of the net to score 3-2. Less than 40 seconds later, McCulloch broke out all alone from the blue line in, including a beautiful fake out on the defender, to beat Keetley over the shoulder. The Heat would take a timeout with the score at 4-2.
The rest of the period was chippy, including two Stars penalty kills that were both successful. The Stars even killed off 37 seconds of 6-on-4 to end the game.
I think the biggest stat line that you can look at for this game is the shots on goal. At one point when the Stars were up 2-0 on the scoreboard, the shots were 7 for the Stars and 20-something for the Heat. When the game ended, the Heat had doubled up the Stars in shots at 36-18, but the Stars had doubled up the Heat where it counts, outscoring them 4-2. I think this points to good things ahead for Matt Climie. Stopping 36 of 37 last night and 34 of 36 tonight is an excllent stat line; it gives him a .959 save percentage over these last two games.
It's also a lot of work. Ford has to get the start tomorrow in Peoria. I found it interesting that the Stars started Climie tonight, but perhaps I'm just too used to the NHL's back-to-back game tendencies for goaltenders.
The Stars now have a 6 game point streak overall and a 6 game home win streak. They have climbed back to the top of the standings for tonight at least. They are tied with the IceHogs at 61. The Admirals are only one behind at 60. The Wolves from Chicago also remain in striking distance at 59 points. However, the Stars have games in hand against all of those teams (IceHogs, 5; Admirals, 2; Wolves, 1). The Admirals are in action again tomorrow against the Bulldogs at home. Chicago is idle until the 4th when they take on the Heat for a two game set. If the Stars' set with the Heat is any indication, Chicago has a good chance of getting 4 points there. It's tight out there and it's getting tighter. Now's the time to excel.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson and Krahn (injured)
Korostin and Stephenson (scratched)
Peters (NHL call up)
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Abbotsford - January 30 2010