Saturday, March 26, 2016

Texas Gets Everything It Needs in 5-4 Shootout Victory

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Twenty-seven minutes into tonight's contest, Texas needed a spark. Without a goal in their last game, the Stars were facing a 3-0 hole against the Milwaukee Admirals. Jack Campbell entered the game in relief and earned his first AHL win since November. Texas completed the comeback in the shootout for the 5-4 final score.

"Down 3-0 there was a lot of game left," said Texas coach Derek Laxdal. "We made the change in net to change up our game."

The change was the spark they needed. The Stars completely flipped the script of the game from that point. Travis Morin, who returned to the lineup after a six week absence, noted, "Once we turned it on, we changed the momentum of the game. We came out a little slow and heavy."

In the final five minutes of the second, Texas would notch two power play goals and add another to open the third, tying the game and swinging the momentum completely in their favor. Brendan Ranford collected the first and third goals and Curtis McKenzie the second.

"I think we just started keeping it simple," said Morin. "Moving pucks, forwards giving D outs. We played a fast game, but we didn't start that way."

Texas vaulted ahead of Milwaukee late in the third on a rebound goal by Gemel Smith. Cole Ully took a hit to make the play at the blue line and send Texas to the 4-3 lead.

After the goalie change, the Stars allowed just eight shots the rest of the contest. Texas showed a greater commitment to shot blocks and defense as the game wore on. Brendan Ranford summarized the effort, "Getting those key blocks and having that willingness to block a shot is bigger than a lot of people think. It gets the bench going and shows the commitment to defense. That goes far in the playoffs."

One of those shots did pierce the armor. With just over two minutes left, Patrick Mullen connected from an impossible angle to go bar-down and send it to overtime.

After losing centerman Justin Dowling in the first on a shot block, the Stars rolled three centers and had to play extra hockey to boot. Texas made it to their fifth shootout of the season after five minutes of scoreless hockey.

Brendan Ranford was the only scorer for either team in the shootout as Campbell stopped all three Admirals shooters.

All around, the game seemed to be exactly what Texas needed. They got gritty power play goals. They stepped up on defense in the second and third and blocked a ton of shots. They won against the best team in the Central. Remi Elie even had a fight.

It's a confidence builder for a team that had been on a three-game losing streak coming into tonight. Now they must face San Antonio and Bakersfield in the next three days.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Dickinson-Stransky
Hulak-Morin-Ranford
Ully-Dowling-Rallo
Elie-Smith-Kane

Backman-Blacker
Honka-Lindell
Mangene-Bystrom

Lagace
Campbell

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Faksa, Ritchie, Johns (call up)
Shore (injury)
Evans, Troock, Hansson, Army (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 5,248.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Milwaukee - March 26 2016

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