The Stars jumped on an early power play after some pushing and shoving in front of the net ended with Scott Ford's fist in Mathieu Tousignant's face. Texas only took 22 seconds for Maxime Fortunus's slapshot to find the back of the net with a redirect in front from Aaron Gagnon. Texas was up 1-0 just 4 minutes in.
Again, Milwaukee found themselves in penalty trouble when Triston Grant took a charging minor 200 feet from his own net in one of the all time most unnecessary penalties I've ever seen. This time, Texas took a whole 68 seconds to score on the power play. Andrew Hutchinson's blast was aided by Mathieu Beaudoin occupying Chet Pickard and a Milwaukee defender in front of the net. Texas had a good front of the net presence when they were in the offensive zone tonight. Fourteen minutes into the game, Texas had scored two goals on five shots.
Milwaukee would get one back at even strength before the period was finished. Triston Grant made up for his unnecessary penalty by getting one back. Maxime Fortunus got rocked behind the net on the play and Grant managed to come across the crease and put one past Krahn for a 2-1 game.
The second was mostly quiet until Dave Scatchard took a tripping minor at 15:15. Milwaukee did not agree with the call. In general, there were a lot of questionable tripping calls on both sides of the ice tonight. Francis Wathier put in his 15th of the year on the doorstep on the backhand on the ensuing power play.
With just 48 seconds elapsed in the 3rd, Ray Sawada leveled Nolan Yonkman, who is not a small man by any means, and Yonkman took exception. Nolan cross-checked Ray to the ice and then started waling on him. Sawada took to the challenge but already being on the ice the fight was over quickly. Yonkman got the extra two minutes for cross-checking, and Sawada got under the skin of the Admirals.
Texas staked itself to a 4-1 lead late in the third when Greg Rallo scored his 19th of the year and his first since the Grand Rapids game on February 21st. The play was simple really. Greg outdeked a defender and snapped a sick wrister glove-side high on Pickard, and Chet just didn't get to it in time.
With only 4:35 left in the game and a 4-1 lead, Texas seemed ready to lock up two points. No one told Milwaukee they were out of this game yet, though. The Ads scored two in the next 3 minutes to bring the score to 4-3. Both goals, score by Thuresson and Jessiman, were put in off the backdoor. On the first, Krahn did not even have time to move back. It looked like a blown assignment, as no one was covering Thuresson in front of the net. It was an extra attacker goal, but he was in a very juicy scoring area so I would expect some coverage. Instead, he was basically shooting for an empty net. The Jessiman goal was scored five-hole as the puck went through just before Krahn went full splits on the ice. As has been mentioned before, I don't think I've ever seen a goalie so quick to get down in the splits for his butterfly style.
Texas managed to lock it down with 93 seconds left in the game and seal the 4-3 win. There was a little bit of nastiness at the end of the game by the door where the Stars enter and exit the ice. A few punches were exchanged and surely some unprintable words. The officials doled out three 10-minute misconduct penalties for the fracas, one each to Jessiman, Sawada, and Wathier.
Maxime Fortunus had a bit of an off game. He was on the ice for two of the power play goals for but also two of the goals against. He took an uncharacteristic tripping minor and had a few blown assignments.
Ray Sawada continues to impress me with the elevation of his game. He has 3 goals and an assist in March's 6 games and 10 penalty minutes. He also brings an all-important element of energy to the team by leveling good legal hits that get the team and crowd pumped up. Also, it has to feel good for Greg Rallo to find the net again after a month without it. Once the Stars leading goal scorer, Rallo was surpassed by Aaron Gagnon but now is only two goal behind Gagnon's 21, a Stars record. Of course, then again, every "best" stat this year is a franchise record, eh?
Texas had a great game on special teams as well. The Stars scored on three of six opportunities and did not allow a power play goal on three chances. Milwaukee outshot Texas in the contest 29-20.
The Stars now head out for a seven game road trip that will help decide their fate in the playoff seeding. Everything is still up in the air right now for the West Division, but this trip is key for Texas with 6 of the 7 games coming against division opponents. It all starts Saturday against Rockford.
Tousignant-Morin-Rallo (Morin double shifted)
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson and McCulloch (injured)
Gazdic and Tyler Ludwig (scratched)
Stars only dressed 11 forwards again, but the extra d-man, Matt Stephenson, did not see the ice in this game. Doing the math, I think this is a matter forced by the clear day roster. Currently we only have 3 players "out": Benn, Wilson, and McCulloch. We can thusly only sub in one player who is 'in residence' Tousi gets the call, and we can't add anyone else. This situation won't be alleviated until Wilson or McCulloch gets healthy. I'm guessing McCulloch, since his issue is the flu.
Tonight's attendance was 6,381.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Milwaukee - March 18 2010