Thursday, April 21, 2016

San Diego Gulls Claim Game 1, Frustrate Texas Stars' PP

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
San Diego marched into the Cedar Park Center and took Game 1 from Texas with an opportunistic offense and clutch penalty killing. The visitors claimed a 3-1 victory over the Stars, holding them to a single goal and allowing zero shots on four penalty kills on the evening.

"We looked a little bit nervous in our building," said Coach Laxdal. "It started with our puck movement. We looked disconnected. Their penalty killers had more energy, and they frustrated us."

Dallas Eakins and the Gulls were ready for the top-5 ranked Texas power play and despite giving them four chances came out completely unscathed. Eakins noted postgame that the team went "through hours and hours of video. We spent a lot of time over the past few days poring thorough power play after power play and noticed a few things that were very consistent and we executed [to that]."

Each of the San Diego goals in the series came directly off Texas mistakes. In all honesty, the Stars played well at 5-on-5 but didn't get timely stops from their goaltender, Maxime Lagace, or put him in unwinnable situations with turnovers.

"It was the little turnovers and mishaps we had that ended up costing us," summarized Justin Dowling, who had the Stars' only goal.

San Diego struck first and never trailed in the game. Antoine Laganiere scored high blocker after a bad change, a blown defensive play and a save Texas needed to get combined to allow the play. Justin Dowling answered early in the second with a shorthanded goal, going five hole on Khudobin.

Nick Ritchie scored for San Diego off a turnover by Julius Honka and the Gulls led again. The Stars' power play frustration mounted in the second, and by Texas' fourth PP, the team was "gripping the sticks" a little harder.

"They clog up the middle and pressure hard too," said Dowling. "I think it was more us than them. We weren't making the right passes and reads."

Laxdal summarized, "You have to take a deep breath. We were 3rd or fourth in the league all year. Just rely on what got you to this point. You could see the frustration growing in the guys on the bench."

The Stars weren't able to generate enough second chances at 5-on-5 to break through Khudobin. Chris Mueller would add a third for the Gulls to close up the scoring.

Texas looks to Saturday now to earn a split at home and head to San Diego without the tall task of having to win all three on the road.

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

Backman-Honka
Hansson-Lindell
Evans-Bystrom

Lagace

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Shore, Ully, Troock, Ritchie (injury)
Blacker, McMurtry, Army, Ruusu (scratch)

Brett Ritchie, who was assigned from Dallas earlier this week presumably because he was healthy, was out tonight with an injury. Coach Laxdal indicated Ritchie was "still" suffering from a lower body injury and could play Saturday.

Tonight's attendance was 3,847.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Diego - April 21 2016

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