Texas needed two points to clinch the top seed in the Western Conference. They got them in the most vociferous of fashions with an eight-goal outburst in San Antonio tonight. Five of them were in the first ten minutes of the game. The win also extended the current win streak to eleven. Curtis McKenzie had his first professional hat trick. Travis Morin had a goal and three assists. Radek Faksa put in his first pro goal and added two assists to boot.
"Coming in tonight, we had first place on the line, so it was a big game for us," said McKenzie. "We wanted to have a good start. Tonight, we wanted to get the big lead and keep it going."
Coach Desjardins continued, "You always like to have a good start. It's great when they go in because they don't always. We're not playing as great throughout the game, but we're certainly having great starts.""
San Antonio didn't let up and put in four of their own as the night wore on. Coach Desjardins expanded, "San Antonio plays hard, and they just had bad breaks in the first. In the third, they didn't have the bad breaks and they were right there."
"They were really resilient," McKenzie elaborated. "They have a lot of good players on the team, and they play with a lot of pride. We know they weren't happy with their start."
Cristopher Nilstorp got the start and stopped 26 of 30 shots against. The Stars put their season point total at 103 and lowered their magic number for clinching the league's best record at three.
It didn't take long for the Stars to get on the board. Pressure down low by the fourth line put in the first tally of the night just 1:50 into the game. Kevin Henderson scored his eleventh of the season off the assist of Matej Stransky. On the right wing side, Henderson backhanded it gloveside on Michael Houser, beating him below the catcher. Radek Faksa had the second assist.
Texas got on the power play within the next minute as Mike Mottau took a slashing call and found himself confined from the herd. Maxime Fortunus blasted the puck from the point and got a nice tip from Curtis McKenzie in the high slot to make it 2-0. The Rampage wanted it waved off, insisting McKenzie had touched it above the crossbar. There is, of course, no review for that sort of play in the American League, so it was a fruitless.
Just over a minute after that, a strange play gave Texas the three goal lead and ended Michael Houser's night. Hubert Labrie had the hard shot from the red line in on the Rampage zone. It hit Ryan Whitney in the back of the leg, felling the veteran defenseman and allowing Radek Faksa to break in all alone. He beat Houser and scored his first professional goal on the play.
"We got some lucky breaks like Faksa's goal," said Desjardins. "He played hard and was smart defensively. He's made a big improvement over last year."
With Rob Madore in net, things kept steaming ahead for the visitors. With a delayed call coming against Bobby Butler for a slash, Travis Morin scored his 32nd of the year and tied Colton Sceviour's team lead. Two minutes later, Maxime Fortunus picked up his second point of the night with a goal from the point. This time, he needed no tip from the forwards as this one beat Madore five hole clean. Radek Faksa picked up his third point of the night on the play, Stranky his second. It was 5-0 Texas with 9:26 still left in the first period.
San Antonio began to battle back with a late period goal on the power play. After initially missing on the shot, Wade Megan sent it in on Nilstorp where it was hacked and slashed home by Joey Crabb. As the period ended, San Antonio coach Tom Rowe and Texas coach Willie Desjardins exchanged words. Rowe approached Desjardins and had to be separated by the refs. Rowe came to Desjardins as the second started and they appeared to end things amicably.
The Rampage continued the comeback bid in the second period with Bobby Butler finding a puck that had settled behind Cristopher Nilstorp in the crease after the initial shot from John Lee. The Stars got it back a few minutes later as Travis Morin banked the puck off a crashing Curtis McKenzie's skates.
McKenzie commented, "I think Morin was aiming for my stick there, and it was just a little behind. With Morin, you just have to go to the net hard. He knows how to make those plays and get the puck to the net."
Morin, McKenzie and Fortunus all registered their third points of the night on the 6-2 goal.
Justin Dowling added to the lead in the third period with his twelfth of the year. The goal extended Dowling's point streak to seven and Hedden's to eight. Brett Ritchie had the second assist.
The Stars let San Antonio back into the game as the period progressed. Cameron Gaunce attempted a pass out from behind the net that he missed on. Forechecking Garrett Wilson scored his second of the game easy with Nilstorp unready for the shot. Five minutes later, the Rampage scored shortside on Nilstorp after Texas thought San Antonio had been guilty of a hand pass. It was Wilson's third of the game.
With four minutes left, Rowe pulled Rob Madore to make it 6-on-5 for the rest of the game. Texas' Curtis McKenzie would score into the empty net with 17 seconds left to seal up his first professional hat trick on his 26th goal of the year.
The Stars play the Rampage in San Antonio again tomorrow in an afternoon game.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Sceviour, Jeffrey, Nemeth, Mueller (callup)
Meech, Hulak, Glennie, Wrenn, Petersen (scratch)
John Klingberg left the game in the first period with the trainer and did not return. Coach does not expect he will play tomorrow. Toby Petersen is expected in the lineup, however.
Today's attendance was 8,252.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Antonio - April 12 2014