Friday, May 16, 2014

Chris Mueller's OT Blast Gives Texas 3-2 Series Lead

Calm cool and collected Chris Mueller had the GWG in OT.
(Credit: Mark Newman)
They would need overtime to do it, but the Texas Stars emerged with a 3-2 win in tonight's game and will take a 3-2 series lead into Sunday's Game 6 back in Cedar Park. Chris Mueller scored his second of the playoffs off a nice drop pass from Kevin Henderson just 3:18 into OT for the huge win by Texas.

The game wasn't without adversity. The Stars led 2-0 early but then gave up two in the middle frame for a tie game after forty. Over the final two periods, Texas was atypically outshot 32-18. In the third period, starting goaltender Jack Campbell was injured on a routine save. He had to leave the ice, and Cristopher Nilstorp took over with the game in the balance.

Campbell stopped 34 of 36 on the night before leaving the game, including a penalty shot. Nilstorp stopped all five he faced in the relief appearance. Texas also lost Justin Dowling in the game to an unknown injury. He didn't not play after the first period.

Needing to get a good start, Texas led the way in a tight first period as far as chances. The first power play chance of the game for either team drew blood for the Texas Stars. Derek Meech slid the puck over the Jyrki Jokipakka on the right wing. Jokipakka blasted the puck just wide of the net on the right side, and it was tipped in by Mike Hedden.

Just under a minute later, Brendan Ranford picked up his seventh of the playoffs at even strength. With an offensive zone faceoff, Curtis McKenzie won a puck battle below the goal line. He dished the puck between the legs of the Griffin's defender to a waiting Ranford in the low slot. He beat Mrazek high on the blocker side for the 2-0 lead.

The Stars lost Justin Dowling in the first period to an undisclosed injury. It was unclear when he was injured, and he would not return in the game.

Texas capitulated in the second period. Thanks to three power plays in the frame for Grand Rapids, the Griffins outshot Texas 16-7 in the period. They scored on two of those shots, including a power play goal.

Tomas Jurco, who did make it into the game after being a gametime decision, got the shot on the first goal. It was tipped in front by Mitch Callahan to open the Griffins' scoring on the power play.

Xavier Ouellet picked up a penalty of his own late in the third period. After the successful penalty kill, he broke in on Jack Campbell with a breakaway pass. Patrik Nemeth caught up but hooked Ouellet in the process. Grand Rapids was awarded a penalty shot. Jack Campbell stood tall on the play, a huge save on the first penalty shot for or against the Texas Stars in playoff franchise history.

The Griffins would get their goal anyways a few minutes later. At even strength, rookie Teemu Pulkkinen blasted one by Campbell on the far side. It was a smart play by Cory Emmerton, who broke in on the far left wing side and passed through a few Stars to Pulkkinen on the far right wing. The quick change of angle got Campbell moving and opened a hole for the Finnish rookie on the blocker side. Campbell got a piece, but not all of it.

Neither club would score in the third period, but there would be a huge game-changing injury late in the period. On what appeared to be a routine save, Jack Campbell doubled over in pain and had to leave the ice. With less than two minutes left, Cristopher Nilstorp had to come in cold. He had one sparkling save in those final two minutes before heading to overtime.

Some early back and forth in the overtime led to some tense moments. Jamie Oleksiak broke up a 3-on-1 against Texas in the first few minutes.

Derek Meech's quick outlet pass led to the eventual game-winner. Henderson up the right side dropped the puck to Chris Mueller, who had room to get an excellent shot off. He beat Mrazek far-side past the blocker, sending his teammates flooding onto the ice to dogpile him.

The Texas Stars will have a chance to close out the series in Game 6 at Cedar Park Center on Sunday night.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-Ranford
Hedden-Dowling-Glennie
Jeffrey-Mueller-Henderson
Hulak-Faksa-Stransky

Jokipakka-Nemeth
Oleksiak-Meech
Labrie-Fortunus

Campbell

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Gaunce, Guptill, Robinson, Troock, Peters, Vause, Wrenn, Byström (scratched)
Klingberg, Ritchie, Petersen (injury)

Toby Petersen was out tonight with an injury from Game 4. He was in a walking cast today.

Justin Dowling left the game in the first period with an unknown injury. He did not return.

Today's attendance was 8,057.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Grand Rapids - May 16 2014

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