Saturday, January 7, 2017

Fourth Line Strong for Texas in 2-1 Shootout Loss

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Texas played another tight, grinding game this evening against the Cleveland Monsters, coming out on the wrong side of the final score but with a lot of positives to count. The Stars earned a point in the shootout loss and got several parts of their game back on track in the process.

"It's good for our group to play in a game like this and grind out a game," said Coach Laxdal. "We did a good job to get a point and 3 of 4 on the weekend, especially coming off the three game losing streak."

After a week of practice and with the knowledge that Cleveland had one of the best records in the league over the past few weeks, Texas was in for a challenge. Last night's Stars' win was bound to generate a response from the Monsters.

However, it was Texas kickstarting the scoring early with the fourth line chipping in. "The fourth line was our best line tonight. If you look at work and zone chances and just on the puck, they were on the puck all night. They did a good job with the minutes they were given tonight."

The fourth line goal from Caleb Herbert came from within a few feet of the net, a backhander simply seeking to put a puck on net, beat Anton Forsberg for the 1-0 score.

"We just try to create energy and get to the net," said Herbert. "We were just trying to build each shift and play in the offensive zone, not the defensive zone."

As the game went on, Herbert, Ethan Werek and Austin Fyten saw more minutes. In the third period, as Texas was coming up empty with repeated power play chances, they were even put in for the man advantage. The line had one of the best chances of that sequence.

Coach Laxdal contrasted the play of the fourth line with the power play units and some of the play of the top nine: "When we're not scoring goals the right way, you tend to get bad habits: make extra passes and be too cute. The easiest way is to put pucks on net and that's why our fourth line was so successful. Pucks to the net, go to the hard areas and get rewarded."

Despite the power play's struggles, the Stars did lock down the Monsters power play with a 4/4 effort on the PK.

Nick Moutrey scored in the second period to tie things at one, a mark that would stand through regulation and overtime. Maxime Lagace was a big reason for that. He earned the back-to-back starts with his performance last night and stopped 28 of 29 tonight through 65 minutes.

"Lagace gave us the chance to win. His game was good and he got us 3 out of 4 points. We're going to need him down the stretch."

The shootout would be unkind to the Stars as Caleb Herbert scored in Round 3 only to be matched by Jordan Maletta's tally. Travis Morin hit the post on his Round 4 bid, and Alex Broadhurst sealed the deal for the Monsters.

Texas hits the road for three out West, starting in Ontario on Wednesday.

Tonight's lines:
Ranford-Morin-DeFazio
Ully-Smith-Stransky
Dickinson-Dowling-Elie
Herbert-Fyten-Werek

Honka-Bystrom
Nemeth-Backman
Mangene-Stevenson

Lagace

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Gurianov (World Juniors)
Bodnarchuk (lower body)
McMurtry, Ebert, Van Brabant (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 6,267.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Cleveland - January 7 2017

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