|Justin Dowling (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)|
"It was a tough game all the way along," said Texas coach Willie Desjardins. "We played hard and Oklahoma City played hard as well. It could have gone either way."
After going down by two in the first period, the Stars battled back in the second period to end forty tied at two a piece.
"We have a lot of scoring power on the team," said Justin Dowling. "We're always confident we can come back no matter what the score. We treat each period the same."
Dowling was that scoring power tonight in the third period as his pair of goals to push Texas ahead 3-2 and 4-3 were huge. Coach Desjardins commented on the scoring balance the team enjoys. After Jeffrey and Glennie keyed the offense last night, Morin and Dowling made the difference tonight.
"It's nice to have. I think you need more bounces as you go towards the playoffs. It takes guys off keying on Morin's line. Now they're looking at all the lines. You need those guys to be successful."
One aspect of the game that certainly screamed playoffs was the physicality of the game. The two teams combined for 38 minutes of penalties solely in minors. Many were of the matching variety. As the third period rolled on, OKC took four straight minors late in the frame. Dowling capitalized just after the final power play expired.
"The power play that we have, the more time we have the more chances we'll generate," he said. "Give us too many chances, the puck is eventually going to find the back of the net. On my goal, they were stuck out there for a while, and they were in scramble mode."
Most of Texas' physical penalties were matching minors, which Coach Desjardins felt showed good discipline out of his club tonight.
Jack Campbell improved to 10-1-0 on the season with the win. It was the first time he allowed more than two goals this season. The second-year goalie also took a minor in the second for roughing.
Texas pulled into a tie for the league lead in points at 90. Manchester is the other club at 90.
For the second night in a row, the Barons opened the scoring. Travis Ewanyk scored off a rebound of the Curtis Hamilton initial shot. Matt Ford extended the lead late in the period on another rebound goal, this time on the 5-on-3 power play. Texas went to the room down 2-0.
Unlikely goal scorer Patrik Nemeth opened the scoring early in the second period. The puck slipped out to him at the left point and he blasted it past Brossoit with no traffic in front, just a simple slap shot that befuddled the Barons backstop.
The Stars and Barons traded pleasantries as the period went on. The Barons charge on Campbell earned a solid punch to the head from the Michigan native. No power play resulted from the fracas.
"They played hard and went hard," said Morin. "It was a physical game. We just stuck to our game plan and knew we could get it in the end."
Morin contributed to that game plan with his 30th of the year next up.
"I won the faceoff, and it didn't go much to my side. The puck coasted into the slot, and I managed to jump over and grab it. I had a point blank opportunity from the hash marks."
He would not miss and put the Stars even at two all.
Justin Dowling opened the third period on a nice individual play to put Texas up by one. With Brandon Davidson draped on him like a coat, he outlasted Brossoit on a semi-breakaway and tucked it home on the backhand.
Andrew Miller scored three minutes later to keep up the seesaw battle at three all. Dowling again came up huge as the Stars' power play expired near the end of the third. From the right wing goal line, Dowling narrates the play.
"I actually wasn't even trying to shoot it. I was trying to hit Ritchie on the backside. He snuck in behind the D. It was one of those nights. Luckily it went off their guys' shin pads and ended up going in."
Up one, Texas locked it down. Morin added, "It's game awareness on the bench of how much time is left and not taking too many chances and playing smart situational hockey."
Morin was the beneficiary of that situational play when he iced the game with an empty netter.
The Stars are next in action on Tuesday against Hamilton.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Sceviour, Mueller (callup)
Wrenn, Labrie (scratch)
Today's attendance was 6,439.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Oklahoma City - March 22 2014