Saturday, February 27, 2016

Special Teams The Difference in 5-2 Texas Loss

Jason Dickinson (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
To close the season series between the two teams, you'd have to expect a one-goal game, right? Each game in the series had been decided by a single goal until today's contest. Tonight's was a 5-2 loss. The key difference in the game was the Texas special teams. Despite two lengthy 5-on-3 chances, Texas ended up 0-for-5 on the power play this evening

"Our power play just has to be better," said Jason Dickinson. "Two 5-on-3s that don't connect change the game. It could be numerous reasons. We're not crisp enough moving the puck. I have to make better plays, we've all got to be better."

Coach Laxdal continued, "We got the looks we wanted, but we just missed the net on wide open opportunities. We missed the net on the power play and on point shots. It's something we'll address."

Maxime Lagace wasn't nearly as tested tonight with only 27 shots vaulted on the Texas net. His counterpart, Peter Budaj, earned his 30th win of the season with a 24 save effort.

The Stars may be close to regaining some of their key players next week. Until then, bottom six players have been asked to step into big roles, according to Coach Laxdal. "You're not going to get [goals from them] every night."

The best chances Texas had were off the rush as Texas tried to simplify its offense against Ontario.

Texas killed an early 5-on-3 in the first six minutes of the game. Despite that effort, the Reign opened the scoring with a pair of goals. Rumbling down the left wing, Jonny Brodzinski picked the far corner on Maxime Lagace for the first tally at 8:27. Sean Backman notched his 15th of the year close in on the power play to set things at 2-0 two minutes later.

Texas clawed back with a patient play by Curtis McKenzie at the net. He collected the puck from Brett Ritchie and maneuvered around Peter Budaj on the right wing side to deposit the pill.

The clubs traded goals in the second. Sean Backman picked up his second of the night and fourth of the season against Texas. The power play goal came on a dangerous 4-on-3 advantage. The Stars were in line for a power play of their own for a trip 200 feet from their net. Brendan Ranford, who earned the call, took an undisciplined roughing penalty to negate the advantage.

Late in the frame, Texas gained some momentum heading into the intermission. The Stars used their team speed to hustle down the ice with Ritchie finding Dickinson crashing the net for the 3-2 score.

"It was a huge swing for us, boosted morale," said Dickinson. "It just started from a funneled puck from Ritchie. It was fortunate it squeaked through."

Texas came up empty on an early power play and another half-length 5-on-3 in the third. Ontario added another goal on a mistake on the forecheck by Texas and then an empty netter.

The Stars play Iowa on Wednesday.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Dickinson-Ritchie
Ranford-Smith-Hulak
Stransky-Ully-Elie
Mangene-Kane-Troock

Backman-Honka
Johns-Lindell
Blacker-Bystrom

Lagace

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Faksa (call up)
Rallo, Shore, Dowling, Morin (injury)
Evans, Muse, Molin (scratch)

Stephen Johns wore the captain's C in Morin's absence.

Tonight's attendance was 5,739.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Ontario - February 27 2016

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