|Joe Morrow's fifth of the year wasn't enough to get Texas past Houston one last time. (Credit: Josh Rasmussen/Texas Stars)|
"We knew they were going to come out strong," said captain Maxime Fortunus. "It was a game they really needed. We always have good games against Houston."
Fortunus was alluding to Houston's need to clinch their playoff berth, which they did with the victory over the Stars this evening. Texas only lost by one but never held the lead in the game, constantly battling back from one goal deficits to tie the contest.
"Once you get back, you have to keep it," said Coach Desjardins. "We turned it over a couple of times. I don't think we had enough desperation in our game. We thought it was just going to happen. It doesn't just happen; you have to work for it."
The Stars are still in search of the top seed in the West as Toronto won tonight to keep their hopes alive of surpassing Texas. A Marlies loss or Texas win or overtime loss will clinch that top seed for the Stars.
"The number one seed is the goal," said Fortunus. "You work all year to be on top."
Cristopher Nilstorp took the loss for Texas, stopping 26 of 30 shots on net. Josh Harding got the win in his first of two conditioning starts for the Aeros, stopping 33 of 36.
Houston struck first early as Dan DaSilva roofed a rebound over Nilstorp for the 1-0 lead. The Stars answered back a few minutes later as Justin Dowling netted his 16th of the year, a delightful wrister from the top of the right wing circle that glided past Harding and into the net. The score was set at one all after twenty minutes with Texas leading shots 14-13.
Chad Rau started his two goal night in the second period with a power play goal unassisted through the five hole of Nilstorp. Exactly one minute later, the see saw continued with Joe Morrow scoring his fifth on the season, polishing off a bouncing puck to tie things at two.
Texas had a chance to go ahead 3-2 with a power play midway through the period, but instead it was Houston taking advantage. Chad Rau collected the puck at the point and began to break out. Jamie Oleksiak hesitated on his decision whether to pinch and force the play or back up and play it safe. That hesitation cost Texas as Rau danced around Oleksiak unimpeded and Morrow didn't have a chance to catch up to the hard skating Rau. The Aeros' center scored his second of the night and sixteenth of the season shorthanded.
The Stars got their tying goal to open the third. Francis Wathier was almost caught by surprise as his attempt on net caught Harding unawares and went five hole for the three all marker. Fortunus collected his second assist of the night on the play. It was an old school goal as Travis Morin completed the scoring line; all three players have been with Texas since the first season.
Houston's game winner came off a turnover in the third. Chad Rau pinched the puck from the Texas fourth line and sent McMillan in for the 4-3 goal. There was a lengthy review of the goal, however, as Houston appeared to interfere with Nilstorp's ability to play the puck.
Fortunus repeated the ref's explanation, "The goalie was out of the crease so that was a fair play. I asked him to look at a hand too. They reviewed it and didn't see it."
The Stars couldn't pull off one last comeback to get that needed point. Despite the last 72 seconds 6-on-5, Houston won the final regular season match-up between the two teams.
Texas is in action for their final game of the regular season tomorrow as they host the Rockford IceHogs.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
R. Smith, Fraser, Chiasson, Benn (call up)
Vause, Cameron, Montgomery, Sloan, Commodore, Wrenn, Ritchie, Jokipakka (scratch)
Desjardins on the fourth line: "It was a tough night for them. They were on for a couple goals. One was a turnover but outside of that they played OK."
Tonight's attendance was 5,416.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Houston - April 19 2013