Saturday, April 23, 2016

Texas Stars Upend San Diego 5-1 to Even Series at 1

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Texas flipped the script on San Diego and throttled the visitors in Game 2 to earn a tie in their best of five series. After falling 3-1 on Thursday, the Stars tallied a 5-1 victory over the Gulls tonight. Some of the biggest weaknesses of Thursday were the biggest strengths of the evening.

"From start to finish, it was a solid effort," said Coach Laxdal. "The other night we didn't execute on the power play. [Tonight], we got contributions from everybody . We've got to play that playoff mentality."

All told, Texas went 2-for-8 on the power play, including the game-winner, after getting nothing the other night. Jack Campbell got the start in net and stopped 25 of 26 for his first playoff win since 2014.

"Jack earned the start down the stretch. We felt Jack gave us a good game start to finish."

Campbell said he loves the pressure of the playoffs and continued, "It takes the full team to get a win like tonight. I was really confident in my game and knew the team would respond from last game."

The Stars opened the scoring with Justin Dowling finding Derek Hulak in the high slot. Nick Ritchie answered back in short order for the 1-1 tie off the rush. It would be the only tally of the night for San Diego though.

Nick Ritchie loaded up the Texas power play multiple times on the evening, no time more deadly than the 5-on-3 early in the first. Esa Lindell connected through traffic for the 2-1 goal.

"We talked about getting more traffic on Khudobin," said Laxdal. "He was great again tonight but we had more of that battle at the net tonight."

Brett Ritchie, playing for the first time since March 24, got an assist on the play and finished the night plus-1 with 6 shots. He said postgame that he felt good in his first game and was obviously helped by having familiar linemate Dowling at center.

Matt Mangene also scored on the power play in the second period. Just as the penalty was expiring, Mangene snuck down low to finish off a pass from Brendan Ranford.

"We have so much firepower up front and in back," said Mangene. "We're going to capitalize on our [power play] opportunities." Mangene also noted that the Stars did a lot of video work on Friday to work on the power play.

San Diego pushed in the third to no avail as Curtis McKenzie and Justin Dowling added to the score on the Texas side. McKenzie had a goal and an assist in the game despite having the flu.

Texas gets a long layoff before playing again. Laxdal intoned, "Now it's a three game series but they're all in their building. We've won there before, and we know how to win there."

San Diego and Texas resume on Thursday for Game 3.

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

Backman-Honka
Hansson-Lindell
Mangene-Bystrom

Lagace

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

Tonight's attendance was 5,623.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Diego - April 23 2016

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