Texas built a solid two goal lead through two periods tonight but lost it in the third period, giving up two goals with less than 7 minutes left in the game. It was a tough loss in front of a packed house at the Cedar Park Center. Texas did take the game to overtime, earning one point in the standings. Despite taking 3 of 4 points against the #1 teams in each of the Western Conference divisions, Texas was understandably upset postgame. Maxime Fortunus pointed out that the team has its collective eyes on a prize in April: "We're fighting for the playoffs right now. you might think it's far away, but it isn't."
Texas and Hamilton skated to a scoreless first period, but that doesn't mean it was without action. Hamilton led the Stars in shots in the period 13-10. Each team had only one power play in the period as referee Jeff Smith "let 'em play". The power plays were actually both for too many men and at least one of them was called by the linesman. For the record, too many men is the only penalty that a linesman can call.
The Stars opened the second period on the right foot. Two minutes and thirty-eight seconds into the period, Travis Morin found the back of the net for his team leading 13th of year. Morin managed the shot reaching his stick across Curtis Sanford to pot a rebound from a Philip Larsen point shot on the wide side of the net. Fabian Brunnstrom had the secondary assist.
Texas got a rare power play to end the period for a hook but could not capitalize. The Stars outshot Hamilton 11-8 in the period to tie it at 21 after 40 minutes.
Scoring heated up in the third period, as much as it can for two teams with as stellar goaltenders as these two. Texas struck first in the 12th minute of the period. Aaron Gagnon skated in across Curtis Sanford's crease to tip home a Cody Chupp shot from the left wing circle. The goal was Gagnon's 6th of the year and assists went to Chupp and Wathier, his linemates.
The Bulldogs roared back thereafter to tie it up at two. J.T. Wyman took his turn first, scoring off a Ben Maxwell faceoff win and going five hole on Richard Bachman. Then on the power play, Dustin Boyd broke in on the left wing side and tapped home a pass from Deshairnais over the outstretched right pad of Bachman.
The game would go to overtime to decide the extra standings point. Hamilton's first and only shot of the overtime period beat Bachman to make the final score 3-2. Texas will not see Hamilton again in the regular season at the CPC. The Stars will visit Hamilton for their only other game of the year on March 12th.
So where did Texas come apart in this one? The Stars have had recent difficulty in the 3rd period keepign pucks out of their own net. Fortunus pointed to the game plan: "In the games that we've won this year, we've applied our [game plan] for 60 minutes. As soon as you don't apply it, you make mistakes. In this league, those mistakes end up in your net."
Ultimately, Texas knows that they had an extra standings point sitting in front of them for the taking. Aaron Gagnon, fresh off his callup from Dallas, echoes Fortunus's sentiments, "It's a tight race. You win one night, you're in. You lose the next night, you're out. Come April, you need anything you can get right now."
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Blindenbacher, Vincour, Gazdic, King, Stephenson (scratched)
Krahn (lower body)
It was a quick game despite the overtime, ending in 2:17.
Tonight's attendance was 6,518.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Hamilton - December 18 2010