If nothing else, the Texas Stars certainly delivered a thriller to the sellout crowd tonight in Cedar Park tonight. The Stars came back from a two goal deficit to go to overtime and needed more than 60 minutes to decide a winner for the 4th straight home contest. Coach Gulutzan told the team afterwards that they need to be more prepared to play at home in the future, "At home, we have to be a harder team to play against."
Abbotsford took the lead in the first with a power play goal scored from the left wing side. Shots were 12-8 after the first 20 minutes with half of Texas's shots coming on the Stars only power play of the period.
Texas tied it up early in the second period. Aaron Gagnon backhanded the puck past Leland Irving for the 1-1 tie only 25 seconds into the period. Philip Larsen picked up his second of the year to give Texas its first, and only, lead of the game at the seven minute mark. The power play tally was assisted by Travis Morin and Dan Spang.
Abbotsford then went on a tear. The Heat scored the game tying goal at 12:22 with Richard Bachman sprawled out in the crease after getting a puck up in his mask. Bachman was clearly at least stunned on the play and put up no resistance on the second shot. The Heat scored again on a 2-on-1 just eleven seconds later to make it 3-2. Despite the Heat's two goals, they only had 5 shots to Texas's 12 in the period.
The third period opened with Sean Backman in the box for high sticking. The Heat made the most of it, scoring their second power play goal of the night. Ultimately they were 2/3 on the man-advantage this evening.
Down 4-2, Texas got to crashing and banging. "We had no effort in the first 10 minutes [of the game]," said Coach Gulutzan. "But supreme effort in the last 10." The Stars got physical and with just over 4 minutes left, Dan Spang cut the lead in half for the Heat.
With 2:32 left, Jon Rheault was called for goaltender interference after knocking Bachman down as he tried to play a puck at the top of the left wing circle. The lucky turn for Texas gave them a chance for a 6-on-4 advantage, which they cashed in on. Francis Wathier tipped Severin Blindenbacher's point shot to tie the game at four with only 60 seconds left.
The Stars went to overtime but ultimately fell in the shootout, failing to score on four shots while Abbotsford beat Bachman for 2 of 3. Final shots were 39-30 for Texas.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Neal, Stephenson, (scratched)
McCulloch, Krahn (lower body)
Chupp (upper body)
Fortunus (unspecified injury)
Tonight's attendance was 6,863.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Abbotsford - January 29 2011