Tonight's game in Cedar Park Center was a back and forth battle that definitely didn't have to be. The Stars ended up getting the two points, but not without considerable gray hairs being added to Coach Gulutzan's head. "It was not a pretty two points. It's not the way we wanted to win," said winger Luke Gazdic, who had a goal and an assist in the game. "But a win's a win."
The Stars allowed a goal in the first 60 seconds of the game for the second straight contest, with Igor Makarov tallying his sixth of the year after a mishandle behind the net from goaltender Brent Krahn. From there on out, however, the first period was all Stars.
Texas rattled off four goals before going to the locker room. Power play goals from Luke Gazdic and Brad Lukowich were bolstered by even strength tallies from Michael Neal and Cody Chupp to make it 4-1 after 20 minutes. The crowd was energized with the final two goals coming in the last 62 seconds of the period.
The second period brought Alec Richards to replace Hannu Toivonen in net for the IceHogs. It also brought three IceHog goals. Slamming away at rebound on the power play, Pierre LeBlanc got the first goal of the period to make it 4-2. A sequence of failures to clear the puck and establish a good first pass out of the zone allowed Rockford to score a 3rd and 4th goal as well. The buzzword in the room postgame for the second period was "complacent". "We need every point we can get right now so we can't give up leads like that," said defenseman Dan Spang.
Rockford reclaimed the lead in the third period, and the crowd was deflated. Texas clearly was as well and brought out the physical play. With Luke Gazdic just doen serving a penalty, he accepted a Fortunus break out pass and threw it towards the net where it was tapped in my a hard-charging Spang.
The game would need more than 60 minutes to be decided. Texas fought hard in the OT period and was rewarded after a mental mistake by Rockford forced a too many men penalty on the visitors. With just 3.3 seconds on the clock, Spang found Greg Rallo in the left wing circle. Rallo slapped home a one timer that beat Richards clean and set the score at a 6-5 final.
The first half of the weekend's must win games completed, Texas sets its sights on these exact same Rockford IceHogs. As we have experienced in the past, the second game of a back-to-back series is usually chippier and more physical. The Stars are expecting that for tomorrow night, especially since tonight's game was so disappointing for the Hogs.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Stephenson, Larsen (scratched)
Morin, McCulloch (lower body)
Gagnon, Sawada, Wathier, Vincour (callup)
Larsen did not play tonight. No comment from Stars staff on his status. Former Star Ivan Vishnevskiy did not have a point in tonight's game but was plus-2.
Tonight's attendance was 5,545.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Rockford - February 11 2011