The Texas Stars came into tonight's game hoping to right the ship on home ice and avoid the team's first ever four game losing streak. The Marlies were too much for the Stars as Texas fell for the 4th game in a row.
Texas had a lot of chances in the game overall, including a highly energetic first period. Despite leading on shots 10-3 at one point the period, Texas went to the locker room with a 1-0 deficit on a drive-by garbage collection goal by Ryan Hamilton. Overall in the period, Texas outshot Toronto 15-8.
Toronto collected a second goal in third period, a laser beam from Joey Crabb that beat Krahn stickside high. The play came off a turnover by Texas during a messy breakout on a line change. The Marlies polished off the night with an empty netter. The Stars pulled Brent Krahn with 2:30 left in the game and could not come up with the goal to cut the lead. Texas led on shots overall 32-28. Brent Krahn stopped 25 of 27 Toronto shots.
The Texas power play struggled mightily in the game and has continued to struggle on the season. The power play was 0/4 on the night and has not scored in 22 opportunities since the win at Chicago. Coach Gulutzan summarized, "Our power play is non-existent."
The power play is not the only issue. In general, the Stars are having offensive issues of late. In the past 4 games, Texas has scored only 4 goals. Before tonight's game, Texas was ranked #23 in goals for in the league. Including tonight's stats, Texas is now averaging 2.33 goals per game.
In general, 2 goals against in the AHL is enough to get yourself a win. Brent Krahn did his part this evening but the skaters have to hold up their end of the bargain.
"We're not panicking," says captain Brad Lukowich. "We've got some [young guys] who are still getting their feet wet." Lukowich pointed to last year's veteran team as the reason why the Stars have not experienced a run like this yet. "[Team defense] has been our focus," Lukowich added. "We haven't really focused on offense too much. Maybe we should."
Coach Gulutzan's system, which is highly defensive minded, is certainly one that is harder to ingrain in younger players. However, with the run to the Calder Cup last year, the younger guys get great feedback from the veterans of last year's team that the system does indeed work.
The captain certainly put the onus on himself and the players though, "We have no excuses. They scored more goals than us tonight."
Texas is now idle until Wednesday's game against Chicago. The Stars could enter that game in last place in the conference with Toronto, Rockford and Lake Erie all having games between now and then.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Benn, King (scratched)
Sawada (undisclosed injury)
Blindenbacher (concussion-like symptoms)
Tonight's attendance was 5,734.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Toronto - November 6 2010