Friday, April 16, 2010

Stars take Game 1 over Rockford 2-1

Texas got the first playoff win in franchise history tonight, defeating Rockford 2-1 in a game that was very contentious at times. Let's break it down.

Texas came out of the gate like a shot. Jamie Benn's line with Aaron Gagnon and Greg Rallo had a lot of quality scoring chances. It seemed like those schances were going to reach a climax and result in a goal when Petiot took a tripping minor and the Stars went on the power play. The man advantage sputtered and stopped the momentum. Rockford took control for the next five minutes of the game. Coach Gulutzan thought the Stars made some "overzealous" plays early in the game, but Rockford was unable to capitalize, which kept Texas in it.

The first playoff goal on Stars history was scored by its most recent addition at 17:41 of the first. Travis Morin fed a breakaway pass to Jamie Benn, who went in alone on Crawford and beat him backhand five hole. Benn had a target on his back all night, despite having no history with the IceHogs. Benn commented, "That’s part of the playoffs, and you’ve got to battle through that. It’s definitely fun to meet a challenge like that."

Aaron Gagnon got a stick in the face and bled for the extra two minutes on the penalty toward the end of the 2nd period. Ray Sawada cashed in on the first penalty, popping one up on Crawford that landed on his back and rolled into the net. The assist on the play went to Stafford. Coach Gulutzan had previously commented about the importance of the power play in the playoffs and tonight he mentioned it again in reference to the Sawada goal. It is clearly a big emphasis for the team, which is more known for its defense than offense. Texas was 1 for 5 on the man advantage tonight.

Rockford had the exact same fortune in the 3rd period. On almost the exact same play, Rob Klinkhammer scored on Brent Krahn on a pop up that rolled down his back and into the net.

The last 3 minutes of the game were filled with all sorts of unpleasantness between the two teams, including a scrum behind the Texas net involving all 11 skaters with 1.7 seconds left in the game (Crawford was pulled, hence the extra skater). Coming out of the scrum, Rockford was assesed a major penalty for cross-checking. Kyle Greentree cross checked Warren Peters in the face and got the game-misconduct for his actions as well. The scrum moved the faceoff outside the Texas zone and sealed the victory.

As to the level of hatred between these two teams, Coach Gulutzan promised after the game, "It's only getting started. It's going to heat up."

Tonight's lines:
Sawada-Peters-Wathier
Benn-Gagnon-Rallo
Morin-Lindgren-Sceviour
Wilson-McCulloch
Korostin

Fortunus-Hutchinson
Tr. Ludwig-Stafford
Stephenson-Jancevski

Krahn

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Beaudoin (lower body)
Shelast, Ty. Ludwig, Graham, Chupp, Gazdic (scratched)

Sergei Korostin dressed for the game but did not take a shift.

Jamie Benn played on the wing and at center in the game, switching with Gagnon. Regarding the switching, Benn said, "Just mixing it up a bit and giving them a different look. It's nice that we can play both positions, and I thought it went pretty well tonight."

Aaron Gagnon played the remainder of the game after the double minor for high-sticking with a clear face shield. He had stitches to close the wound on his nose.

Tonight's attendance was 5,826.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Rockford - April 16 2010

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