|Jack Campbell tracks a puck into his pads, one of 42 saves on the night. (Credit: Josh Rasmussen/Texas Stars)|
"This was a must win game, and I knew I needed to step it up and get back to how I played in January and February," said Campbell.
Texas allowed the first goal of the game to Grand Rapids but shut the door on all further attempts. Justin Dowling evened the score and Travis Morin put the Stars ahead for good in the dying seconds of the first. Matt Fraser added his 33rd of the year on the power play in the final frame to put the game out of reach for the Griffins.
"It was a playoff atmosphere a bit," said Coach Desjardins. "We were lucky Jack played well. He won the game for us tonight."
Texas moves to 89 points with the win and continues to hold the top spot in the American Hockey League.
Early in the first, Texas did need a lot of help from their rookie tender. The Griffins and Stars traded extended offensive zone visits. Texas turned the puck over several times but Campbell stood tall.
"We don't usually make those mistakes," said Desjardins. "We weren't moving our feet. I don't know why. We turned a couple over, and he bailed us out."
Grand Rapids scored the first goal of the game as Jan Mursak picked the top-right corner of the net while Campbell was screened by bodies from both teams. It would be the only goal he allowed on the night.
Justin Dowling scored his 13th of the year just over a minute later.
"You've got to drive the net and create havoc," said Travis Morin. "It was a prime example in [Dowling's goal]."
Dowling was the beneficiary of a rebound which he put between Mrazek's pads for the 1-1 tie. Alex Chiasson assisted on the goal.
With time ticking down in the first period, Texas picked up the eventual game winner off a crafty play by Colton Sceviour and Travis Morin.
"I was going to the net," said Morin. "Sceviour made a great play getting it through to me. I tipped it, and it just found a hole."
With 7.4 seconds left in the period, Morin's goal set the score at 2-1.
As the second period wore on, Texas and Grand Rapids both poured on the shots. Fifty seven total shots were racked up in the first forty minutes alone.
"The guys started to take over the game in the second half," said Campbell.
After fifty one minutes of five-a-side hockey, the game's first and second penalty were called back-to-back against Grand Rapids. This led the to the Stars' third goal of the night, an insurance power play goal off the stick of Matt Fraser.
"It's sure nice to get that third one," said Desjardins. "It was a great shot by Fraser and a great screen by Sceviour."
Texas immediately went on the kill with Tyler Sloan in the box for high-sticking. The Stars closed out the penalty and the game with solid defensive play and stout goaltending. Both are things Texas and Grand Rapids will need as they hurtle towards the playoffs.
"It really was a playoff game," said Campbell. "We're both battling for that top spot in the Western Conference."
What a difference a year makes.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Roussel, Benn, Vincour, Petersen (call up)
Nemeth, Nilstorp, Wandell (injured)
Commodore, Labrie, Baldwin (scratch)
Tonight's attendance was 6,462.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Grand Rapids - March 30 2013