|(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)|
Justin Dowling made his return to the lineup after two months out with a knee injury. Coach Laxdal called him a "catalyst" for the Stars tonight as he collected two assists, one each on the power play and shorthanded.
"Coming back after two months to contribute and help win a game is huge for my confidence," said Dowling. "It's good to be back in the dressing room with the guys again."
Coach Laxdal expanded, "Justin was outstanding, especially for a player who hasn't played in two months. He was at top speed. He was on it."
Even with the margin, Maxime Lagace was tested in the game, stopping 30 of 32 shots. His best came on the penalty kill in the second as he snagged a shot from Jordan Schroeder at the goal line.
"He's made the big save at the right moment, which is key," said Laxdal. "Max didn't quit."
Iowa opened the scoring with the aforementioned Schroeder collecting his 12th of the year in the first minute of the game. Texas got it back with less than a minute in the period. Off a perfect faceoff win from Justin Dowling, Stephen Johns found twine.
Tyler Graovac added a second tally for Iowa to open the second, a bad angle shot that Lagace clearly wanted back. Ranford added, "He was upset with the second goal, and he just locked it down [from there]."
Following the goal, the Stars offense opened a can. Curtis McKenzie tipped a shot from Brett Ritchie, and Brendan Ranford scored 38 seconds later to make it 3-2. On their heels, the Wild would take their timeout. "It was kind of a sleepy game," noted Laxdal. "Once we got up 3-2, the team settled in."
Texas wasn't done as Matej Stransky streaked down the ice coming off the penalty kill. With Leland Irving playing the pass to Julius Honka all the way, Stransky was able to snipe one high for the 4-2 score.
Late in the period on the PK, Curtis McKenzie caught a pass from Justin Dowling and scrambled up the middle. Checking the time on the Jumbotron as he went, McKenzie scored with just 1.4 seconds left to make it 5-2.
The third period was a sleepy affair with neither team finding the scoresheet. These two teams battle again on Friday.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Faksa (call up)
Rallo, Shore, Morin (injury)
Evans, Mangene, Molin (scratch)
Stephen Johns wore the captain's C in Morin's absence.
Tonight's attendance was 4,084.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Iowa - March 2 2016