|Justin Dowling (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)|
"We had a good start to the game, putting up a lot of shots," said Coach Desjardins.
Texas volleyed twenty and twenty-one shots on net in the first two periods, respectively. Lieuwen stopped 45 shots in the game total, including some athletic saves to keep Rochester in it. The Amerks only trailed 1-0 after a first period where they were outshot 20-4.
"I remember playing him in junior, and he was a really good goalie then too," said Justin Dowling, who had a goal on the night. "I'm not surprised he played that well. He kept them in it."
Taylor Peters, who scored his fourth of the year in the game, philosophized on the genesis of the Stars' shot total, "When you have speed you have time and when you have time, you get shots off."
Dowling's goal was the game winner in the franchise-record tenth's home win for Texas. Dowling intoned, "We just have to keep pushing and not stop at ten."
The win came without a point for either Colton Sceviour or Travis Morin. That hasn't happened since November 30th's loss to Grand Rapids. Two goals from the newly created line of Stransky, Peters and Mueller made that an inconsequential point.
Cristopher Nilstorp stopped 26 of 27.
Despite the shot-heavy first period for the Texas Stars, the club only found the net once in the twenty minute frame. After failing to score on a 59 second long 5-on-3, the Stars put one in on Nathan Lieuwen on the 5-on-4 portion that immediately followed. Jyrki Jokipakka was the tail-gunner for the power play tally, which was assisted by Derek Meech and Mike Hedden. Traffic assisted the puck in finding twine, as Lieuwen was screened on the play. The assist by Meech was his first point as a Star.
Otherwise, Lieuwen was stellar in the period. He put the clamps on the high-scoring Stars with a few solid athletic plays. For example, after getting completely out of his net on the right side, he dove back across the crease to snare an open-net Travis Morin bid with his glove hand. The Stars appeared stunned. All told, Lieuwen stopped 19 of 20 Texas shots in the first, while Nilstorp only faced four.
The Amerks backed up Lieuwen's solid play in the first seven minutes of the second, scoring the tying goal. Jokipakka was guilty of an ill-advised pinch on an on-rushing Amerk forward and left William Wrenn with a two-on-one. Alex Hutchings finished the play with a bell-ringer of a goal off the crossbar. Phil Varone assisted.
"It was off the faceoff and Jokipakka got caught halfway," said Desjardins. "He thought he could get to the puck, and he didn't get there. He's not a rookie anymore. He's got 40 games and he shouldn't be making those mistakes."
Lieuwen had a bit of bad luck just a few minutes later as the puck, instead of finding his stick, passed under it on a play behind the net. On-coming forechecker Justin Dowling snagged it and scored on a backhanded wraparound for the 2-1 lead.
"I got fortunate that there wasn't a goalie in the net, so it made it a little easier," said Dowling with a laugh.
Taylor Peters extended the lead to 3-1 with his fourth of the year, collecting a meaty rebound off the right pad of Lieuwen and depositing it in the yawning cage behind him.
"Matej had a great play behind the net there, came out and passed it to Wrenn," said Peters. "He hit the shot, and I pushed off a bit and was lucky enough to pull the puck out of the scrum."
Coach Desjardins heaped praise on the line of Peters, Stransky and Mueller: "I thought Peters' line had a great night. Their shift to start the first, they had a few big hits. I was a bit worried where that line would fit in with some young guys on it. I was worried if I could play them or not, and they did a really great job for us."
The Stars somehow exceeded their shot count for the first period with 21 in the second, totaling 41 through two, despite not putting a shot on net after the thirteen minute mark of the period.
That low-shooting trend continued into the third period for the Stars but not for the Americans. Rochester picked up their shot total with 12. As the Amerks rang one off the post early in the period, Texas surely didn't want to find itself in a situation similar to Saturday against Utica where they let the Comets back into the game by letting off the gas.
Matej Stransky put the game out of reach for the visitors with his fifth of the year, scoring by flipping one over Lieuwen's glove with a one defender on his heels. Stransky's goal was assisted by Dowling and Derek Meech.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Labrie, Sinkewich (scratch)
Nemeth, Glennie, Campbell, Petersen, Ritchie, Wathier (injury)
Ritchie and Wathier are unlikely to travel with the team to Charlotte. Jack Campbell is 'close', according to Desjardins.
Tonight's attendance was 4,840.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Rochester - January 15 2014