|Travis Morin and Colton Sceviour celebrate Morin's first goal of the night.|
(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
"We have a lot of guys capable of scoring," said Coach Desjardins. "We're going to need that. We need all the lines going, and it's good to see different lines lead us every night."
Morin added, "You get down to the playoffs and the grind of the season, you can't count on just certain guys to score. Everyone has to contribute."
The veteran center, Morin, put in the first three of the night in succession over the first and second period while Colton Sceviour added another to make it 4-0 in the second. Two of Morin's goals were unassisted, including the shorthanded third tally. Morin's natural trick and Sceviour's goal tied the two for the league lead in goals at 23.
Utica mounted a comeback bid as Mathieu Corbeil relieved started Joe Cannata in net following Sceviour's goal.
"I think they're a team that plays hard all the time. They were like that in the first, too. We sat back [after going up 4-0], and they played with the same pace. When you sit back, teams will catch up with you."
Curtis McKenzie salted away the game with an empty net goal late in the third. Cristopher Nilstorp got the start and stopped 30 of 33 on the night.
Sceviour and Morin got things started early on a breakaway under five minutes into the game. A textbook two-on-one put the puck behind Cannata off the stick of Morin, who streaked down the right wing side.
Morin scored again, unassisted this time, four minutes later. This time it was a long-range shot to the top left corner on Cannata.
Things started to get chippy as play continued. Cameron Gaunce and Pascal Pelletier dropped the gloves late in the first. Travis Morin took a minor for cross-checking in front of the net, which was offset by roughing on Kellan Lain.
As the game rolled into the second period, Hubert Labrie took a minor for slashing a Utica skater as he barreled in on Nilstorp. It ended up benefiting the Stars quite a bit as Travis Morin potted his third of the night on the ensuing penalty kill. Morin picked the pocket of the Utica defender at the blue line and went in alone on Cannata down the left side. He rifled the puck to the top right corner to complete the hat trick. According to Morin, it was his first since his time with the South Carolina Stingrays (October 31st, 2007).
Colton Sceviour added to the score with a bad angle shot that found the net and ended Cannata's night. After Sceviour scored the goal, Morin had a quip for him at the bench: "I told him he obviously didn't want to let me have the lead for very long there. When I tied him with my second one, I told him, 'I heard I tied the league lead with some guy'."
Texas relaxed a bit up 4-0 and Utica took it to the Stars.
"We gave them one late in the second and it's always bad to give up a goal late in the second," said Coach Desjardins. "We have to be smarter with the puck and how we manage it. We worked hard to get the lead. That's why we got four because I guess we knew we were going to need them."
Texas got caught deep in the Utica zone and gave up their first to Cal O'Reilly. In the third, the Comets' Grenier was the recipient of nice pass from O'Reilly behind the net, which he completed for the 4-2 score. Just two minutes later, Brandon DeFazio pulled it within one as he got three or four chances at a rebound in front of Nilstorp.
Some frantic moments followed as Utica had injected some drama into the game. The Comets rang one off the post and had solid pressure in the Texas zone, but the Stars stood tall.
After pulling Mathieu Corbeil, who was excellent in relief, the Comets ceded the final blow. Curtis McKenzie broke free and skated in for an empty net goal to seal the deal at 5-3.
The Stars now wait for the Rochester Americans, who will face off at the Cedar Park Center on Wednesday.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Montgomery, Wrenn, Sinkewich (scratch)
Nemeth, Glennie, Campbell, Petersen, Vause (injury)
Morin on his bobblehead: "I got a glimpse of the bobblehead. It's not bad. It's got some good flow. It's always hard with those things. I don't think it looks a whole lot like me. I guess it looks more like me the past few years with my hair grown out. It's nice to have."
Desjardins on Meech: "I thought Meech was really really good. He showed a lot of composure."
Tonight's attendance was 6,028.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Utica - January 11 2014