Saturday, November 26, 2016

Johns, Lagace and PK Shine in Texas Stars First Shutout of Year

Stephen Johns in a file photo from February 2016
(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Tonight's game was one of those where you could pick any number of storylines to follow. Strong play across the lineup for Texas created a very complete game, culminating in a 3-0 win against the Rampage in Cedar Park.

First, Texas got a fantastic performance from their goaltender, Maxime Lagace. The sophomore netminder halted the San Antonio offense and turned aside 28 shots for Texas' first shutout of the season.

"I'm trying to be consistent more in my game," said Lagace, who also got the win last night. "I really wanted the shutout and I fought through it. The guys did a tremendous job in front of me on the 5-on-3 our pk unit did a really good job tonight."

Lagace introduced the next high point of the game, the penalty kill. Over the past five games, Texas has scored five shorthanded goals and now leads the league with six overall. Brandon DeFazio scored this evening's shorthanded goal in the second period. Tonight, they added to that with a perfect 4/4 effort stopping the Rampage.

"We've had a lot of discussion and video review on the PK," said Texas coach Derek Laxdal. "We're trying to be more aggressive on the entries and in the system. With that support and urgency and good goaltending, you're going to have a good penalty kill."

The PK was tested, especially late. Texas built a lead with a power play goal and one of those aforementioned shorthanded tallies, along with an even-strength marker. The Rampage pushed hard in the third, outshooting Texas 14-3 and earning a 5-on-3 power play late. The team tightened up and energized the building with a successful kill. Andrew Bodnarchuk, Travis Morin and Stephen Johns were on the ice for nearly the entire 73 seconds.

Johns carried over his excellent play in all aspects of his game from last night. He tallied a power play goal, was rubbing out players all over the ice and set a physical tone for the team.

"He brought a lot of energy to our lineup with a big heavy body. He came down here with the right frame of mind, trying to build his confidence. We hope that turns into success in Dallas."

Johns added, "I don't think I expected to score three goals. I just wanted ot come down here and be comfortable skating and making good decisions. I sat out a few games in a row and it's tough to sit in the stands. When I got sent down, you can say I was pissed off but I used it as motivation to play as well as I can."

Cole Ully added a goal late in the second that would be the last offense for either team in the game. It was a mad scramble in front assisted by Matt Mangene and Jason Dickinson.

Texas plays again on Wednesday in Chicago.

Tonight's lines:
Elie-Dowling-DeFazio
Ranford-Morin-Stransky
Gurianov-Smith-Van Brabant
Ully-Dickinson-Mangene

Johns-Bodnarchuk
Backman-Ebert
Stevenson-Bystrom

Lagace

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Honka (call up)
Fyten, McMurtry, Werek, Troock (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 6,158.

Mattias Backman was lost to 'mid-body' injury in the first period. He did not return. Coach Laxdal calls it 'day-to-day' but anticipates calling up a defenseman from the ECHL.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Antonio - November 26 2016

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