Thursday, January 29, 2015

Texas Squanders Two Goal Lead, Falls in OT 3-2

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Looking for two points to stay afloat in the playoff race, Texas squandered a two goal lead against their closest geographic rival to fall in overtime. It was their AHL-worst tenth overtime loss of the season.

"We came out flat plain and simple," Fortunus said of the third period effort. "We have to find a way to come out with the lead and stick to our game. It's an issue we've been working on this year."

After going up 2-1 after forty, Texas allowed an AHL season record 25 shots in the third period and a San Antonio goal to even it. The Rampage's first shot of overtime beat Jussi Rynnas, his 45th shot faced on the night.

"Jussi was outstanding," said Coach Derek Laxdal. "He gave us a chance to win the game."

"At 2-0, we had good control of the game. A bad call stung us on the penalty kill, an icing that should have been called. But that seems to be a common happening in the AHL right now with some of the local linesman, so that's something we may have to address with the AHL."

Regardless of the officiating, Laxdal conceded, "We didn't show a lot of composure in the third period. We sat back a bit. San Antonio had their way with us."

Texas' combo of Eric Faille, Branden Troock and Jesse Root again had a positive impact in the first two periods despite the loss. They generated the first goal and earned Texas a power play in the second. At the same time, they had a penalty that led to the Rampage's first goal of the night. The fourth line frustrated the Rampage in their defensive zone and drew the holding call that led to Morin's second period power play goal.

Early on, it was Julius Honka breaking in alone thanks to the aforementioned nifty work in the neutral zone by the third line. Eric Faille took a hit at mid-ice and sent a pass to Jesse Root at the blue line. Faille took that hit from two players, giving Julius Honka a chance to walk in unaccosted and backhand the puck over Dan Ellis for the opening goal.

The bottom six contributed further in the second period as William Wrenn drew a holding call on Vincent Trocheck and put his top six on the power play. Derek Meech swooped in low from the left point on the advantage. His initial bid bounced off Ellis and out to Derek Meech.

The Rampage would get one back on the Stars late in the second period. With Branden Troock in the box on a 'closing hand on the puck' call, Jesse Blacker found twine from the left wing dot to set the score at 2-1 after forty. Troock had been attempting to setup a 2-on-1 but got caught being a little overzealous.

The third period was a rough one for Texas. Jussi Rynnas faced 25 shots in the third period alone and stopped 24. The single Rampage goal that did pierce his armor came off a hard rebound from the shot of Steve Kampfer. Connor Brickley finished the play on the backdoor for a 2-2 tie.

Texas managed its way through 4-on-4 overtime and dropped to 3-on-3 overtime with 2:25 left in the frame. Greg Rallo got the initial shot and Maxime Fortunus jumped up to attempt the rebound. Rocco Grimaldi beat him to the puck and counterpunched for the 3-2 game winner.

"Inches make the game," said Fortunus. "If you don't put that puck in, they're coming back at you."

Laxdal added, "It's one of those plays where you get stuck in between. When you go against a speedster like Grimaldi, good luck."

Texas stays in town to play Charlotte on Saturday.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-Ranford
Hulak-Dowling-Rallo
Troock-Faille-Root
Wrenn-Smith-Stransky

Valentine-Fortunus
Honka-Meech
Gaunce-Jokipakka

Rynnas

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Ritchie (call up)
Mangene, Glennie (scratch)
Henderson, Faksa (injury)

Tonight's attendance was 3,106.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Antonio - January 29 2015

10 comments:

  1. I don't understand the tendency of Laxdel to play defense men as forwards, Is Wrenn so good they just need to find a way to keep him on the ice? I just don't see it. Also I though it was a bad decision to go into the three skater overtime with the line he did, seems to me with open ice like that I would lean on my skaters who were a little more "spry", Two defense men and a forward just looks like a "trying not to lose" lineup.

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    1. Laxdal calls San Antonio a heavy team and you can partly translate that as a physical team that will fight. Wrenn is partly there, in my estimation, over Peters or Glennie because he will fight.

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    2. I don't know Stephen, at this point do we get points in the standing for fighting? Maybe one could say Wrenn plays chippy but he sure isn't a fighter, at least not more-so then Peters. I'm all for bringing a guy in that will fight but you know, let's not tease ourselves, that guy isn't on our roster. I don't think the Stars have a Heavy-Middleweight anymore much less a Heavyweight. Additionally it almost appears Texas has had no openings on the roster the past three years for a tough guy so maybe we are seeing a roster that that has been "breed" out of tough guys. I have no problem with Wrenn but just find it hard to believe he is the best option to fill in the gaps of the roster, really, has this technique proven to work for Laxdel in Cedar Park to this point? Willie pulled it off but to be fair Willie had some bigger guys out there last years than Laxdel has. I've said all along Texas should fill the Gazdic years 1-2 roll again (even Gazdic didn't fill it beyond year 2), the Stars got pushed around like a high school team in the third, Laxdel just can't or doesn't know how to coach around that.

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    3. Texas definitely doesn't get points for fighting. In the past two years, Texas defeated the pugilistic side of teams by just having four solid lines. Teams that iced an enforcer would get railroaded by a highly capable Texas fourth line that could skate and score. This year, the tools aren't there on the bottom six as much as in the past two years. If you can't beat 'em on scoring on the fourth line, you go to enforcing.

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  2. The difference tonight was turnovers. Oh, my, how many times did we have the puck and fire it directly to an opposing player? I lost count. Also, worst attendance I've ever seen there. I guess everyone has tickets to Saturday. At least we got 1 point, but we should have had that one!

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    1. The attendance wasn't the worst ever announced, but it surely didn't look too full. It is the first home Thursday night game this year.

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  3. I was not bothered by the attendance, the team does not typically pack it in on weekdays, so no big surprise. They did not announce it last night because the number did not look anything like what was in the arena, lots of empty season ticket holder seats last night.

    The third period looked like we were out to defend. Like a prevent defense instead of playing the same game that got lead to begin with. This is not the first time that we have seen this and not the first time that it has failed to produce 2 points.

    I wonder if this is a mind set or a coaching call. I am not as down on Laxdal as some of the ticket holders around me at the games, but if we keep seeing a prevent when we are up by one goal, then I may change my tune.

    It was good to see the power play score and to see them working to set things up. We had issues getting the puck into the zone to setup the power play, but it did look like last night they were working to get plays setup and executed. There were a few goals that were simply inches away down close throughout the game.

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  4. Rynnas was excellent. I thought he made a mistake charging as far out as he did on the winning goal, but until then he was deflecting shots coming at him from all angles like it was a free skate. Surely he is the full time starter now.

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    1. He has to come out at that point when it was obvious that we did not have anyone that was going to catch Grimaldi. If you don't come out then you don't cut down any angles and you leave large sections of the net open for a shot. The problem is that giving someone like Grimaldi a full run up to the goal, it is hard to get to your backside before he can get that shot off. So Rynnas has to make a split second decision to make Grimaldi beat him with a shot and stay close to the net, or make him beat him with a move and come out and cut down the angle. This time Grimaldi made the best of that choice.

      He was great all night. Even the tying goal was a great save and did knock the rebound away, just happened that it went directly to an uncovered SA player. Was good to see him get one of the stars of the game.

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    2. On the tying goal, that's been a weakness of Rynnas this year. He kicks out those big rebound off shot stickside low.

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