Jamie Benn looks on as Perttu Lindgren's shot finds the back of the night behind Peter Mannino. Benn scored or assisted every goal in tonight's game.(Photo credit: Brian Hackert)
The Stars built an early lead and held on to power past the Chicago Wolves in Game 5 of their best-of-seven series by a score of 5-3. Texas takes a 3-2 lead with the win and has to wrap it up in Rosemont to move on.
Texas started out the game just the way they didn't want to, killing a penalty. Trevor Ludwig got his stick up on a Chicago player and Texas went on the PK just 39 seconds into the game. With only 16 seconds left to go in the penalty, Chicago's Anthony Stewart scored his seventh of the playoffs down in the crease. on a pass from the left side. The Stars were in an early hole 1-0. Texas was facing a 6 to 2 shots deficit when Joey Crabb was called for a delay of game penalty. Chicago's Arturs Kulda, owner of the highest regular season plus-minus, put his team down 5-on-3 just 36 seconds later. Texas had a crucial 5-on-3 power play.
From practically on the goal line to the right of the net, Jamie Benn snapped a shot high left corner that beat Mannino and tied it at 1. Benn did it again just 3 minutes later. Hanging out in Mannino's crease, he collected a rebound off of Ray Sawada's shot and managed to maneuver around Mannino and roof it for a 2-1 advantage. A questionable tripping call on Aaron Gagnon was evened out when Tim Stapleton took a cross-checking penalty in the offensive zone and set the man power at 4-on-4. Perttu Lindgren tallied his 4th of the playoffs on a deft pass out of the crease to the left wing circle from Dan Jancevski. Texas would end the period with a 3-1 lead and a 14-11 shots on goal lead.
Jamie Benn had a say in everyone of the Stars' first period goals and wasn't done yet. Almost 6 minutes into the second period, Jamie Benn did the hard work breaking into the zone and ripped a sick wrister past Mannino glove side high. The goal completed the hat trick for Benn; it was the first home hat trick in Texas Stars history and caps flew down to the ice. The goal also marked the end of Peter Mannino's night, with Drew MacIntyre coming on in relief. Some how Texas did not manage another shot on goal in the period after MacIntyre took over the net.
Chicago did though. Anthony Stewart scored his eighth of the year and second of the night just past the halfway point in the period. With three Stars defenders bunched around him, Stewart managed to take the feed from Jason Krog behind the net and convert it into a five-hole even-strength tally. Texas would close the period up 4-2. The shot count was the real story of the period though. Texas only managed 2 shots and scored on one of them. Chicago had 20 shots on goal in the middle frame and also scored once. The shot count through two periods was 31-16.
Texas had a scary moment to start the third. Brent Krahn got bowled over by Tim Stapleton and the puck began to dribble into the net. Andrew Hutchinson got in there to start sending it out but the net came off its moorings before the puck crossed the line. No goal.
Texas's Krahn continued to be pummeled with shots through the period, but did not yield until the last few minutes. With the score still at 4-2 and Drew MacIntyre on the bench for the extra attacker, Nathan Oystrick bombed one in that came off traffic in front and out to Tim Stapleton. Stapleton spun with it and wired it to the top-right corner of the net, beating Krahn stick side. Texas was only up by one. With the net empty at the end of the net again, the Stars got one more for insurance. Jamie Benn, once again, passed to Aaron Gagnon who netted the empty goal tally. Texas finished the game 5-3.
Texas won the game despite giving up the first goal, something that had usually been a bad omen for the team (or any team for that matter). Also, Texas was outshot in the game by a factor of two, 46-23. Brent Krahn's 43 saves was playoff record for the Texas Stars. "Shots were 20-something [in each period]," said Krahn after the game, "but a good 60-70% of those were just routine saves and they're just trying to wait for a rebound or bad bounce." Krahn added, "Just because the shots aren't up, doesn't mean we aren't taking it to 'em".
The story of the game was clearly Jamie Benn, who stepped up in a big way tonight. After being kept off the scoresheet for three games, his 3 goal, 5 point night was the first home hat-trick and a team record for points in the regular season or playoffs. It was Benn's first professional hat trick. Of Benn, Brent Krahn mused, "90% of the guys would say 'I don't even want to be here, I played in the NHL all season long' and to his credit the guy has character. He's a young guy; he's battled and worked hard."
Texas now takes a 3-2 advantage in the series back to Chicago. The Stars have two chances to close it out, Sunday and Tuesday. We'll talk about what the players had to say about that game in Sunday's gameday preview.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Stafford (suspended, game 3 of 3)
Peters (suspended, game 1 of 1)
Shelast, Ty. Ludwig, Chupp, Gazdic (scratched)
I did not see Korostin take a single shift. Jamie Benn double shifted with Wathier and Sawada. Sawada assisted on two of Benn's three goals. "We played a little hot tonight," said Coach Gulutzan. "A lot of guys got a lot of ice."
Tonight's attendance was 5,112.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Chicago - May 7 2010