After a first in team history four game skid in late October/early November, the Stars have rattled off seven wins in the last nine games. Their wins have included some of the division leaders such as San Antonio and tonight's victim, the Oklahoma City Barons. "It wasn't the prettiest two points tonight," said Francis Wathier, who had a goal in the game, "But it got the job done."
Even though it was ultimately Texas's night, the Barons opened the scoring with former Wolf Greg Stewart tallying his second of the year just 6 minutes into the game.
Just over a minute later, Luke Gazdic would tally his second off the year on a tap in at the post from Brad Lukowich's shot. Gazdic was playing on a new line this evening with Tomas Vincour and Cody Chupp.
Texas scored again only 70 seconds later off the stick of the Stars' leading scorer, Travis Morin. Morin scored by collecting a rebound in the crease for his 8th of the year.
Coming off a penalty kill for Mathieu Tousignant's holding the stick penalty, Tousignant collected his 4th of the year. At Texas's blue line, Tousignant beat a pinching Barons D-man and generated a 3-on-1 against Shawn Belle. Tousi took it in himself and beat Deslauriers easily, as Deslauriers seemed to think the shot would go wide and didn't even go down for it. Texas would end the period ahead 3-1 by score and 15-10 by shots.
Bryan Pitton came out of the tunnel for the Oklahoma City Barons in the second period, his first game action since October 23rd. Liam Reddox cut the lead in half for the Stars at the midway mark of the period.
This was one of those points that Coach Gulutzan has talked about, buckling down when things get tight. Texas came together and generated a goal from Colton Sceviour on a backhand into a wide open net just 5 minutes later to make it 4-2. Texas led on shots 29-16 at the end of the second.
The Stars got one more for insurance in the third period on a great forechecking effort from Sean Backman. Backman got in deep and forced a stickhandling error by goalie Bryan Pitton. He sent the recovered puck out front where Francis Wathier buried his eighth of the year.
Richard Bachman turned aside 29 of 31 shots on the night and earned first star honors yet again. The rookie graciously deflected praise onto his teammates, "They're clearing a lot of pucks for me and letting me see it so they're making my job pretty easy back there actually." Bachman has now brought his stats to an enviable 8-3-0 record with a 1.94 GAA and .933 SV%.
There are still points for improvement though. A power play that is struggling to maintain consistency will need to step up before the team goes out on the road, where they have the worst power play percentage in the league (8.1%). The Stars have 3 more home games to tune up before heading out on the road for a four game road stretch.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Benn, Stephenson and McCulloch (scratched)
Krahn (day-to-day, lower body)
Roman (unspecified injury)
I like moving Sean Backman to a line with Gagnon and Wathier. It worked tonight, generating a goal. Greg Rallo had a fight, of all things, in the game, throwing down with Colin McDonald in the first period.
Tonight's attendance was 3,368.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Oklahoma City - November 30 2010