Saturday, March 4, 2017

Jimmy Howard, Grand Rapids Griffins Power Past Texas Stars 5-2

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Despite the score line, Texas played a close game against the Grand Rapids Griffins this evening, coming out on the wrong side of a lopsided final. Facing the best team in the conference and coming off their longest road trip of the season, the Stars fell 5-2 to the Griffins tonight.

"They're a very good team, and they have a lot of depth," said newcomer Mark McNeill, who scored his first goal as a Star this evening. "A few mistakes in the third there cost us. They're able to capitalize because they have that skill."

Texas managed to strike first, Cole Ully's 9th of the year on a tip, and kept the game close even as Grand Rapids tallied a pair to close the first at a 2-1 advantage for the visitors.

The Stars had to work especially hard to penetrate the masked man at the other end of the ice. Detroit's Jimmy Howard, down in the AHL on a conditioning stint, got the start.

"You've gotta respect that but we have to play the same way with bodies in front of the net and taking his eyes away."

McNeill's goal was a nice connection with his new linemate Travis Morin. The captain sauced a pass backhand to the slot for McNeill to loft over Howard for the 2-2 tie.

Coach Laxdal summarized, "We had them 2-2 going into the third period. I liked the way we were playing. We didn't start the third period particularly well."

Early in the third, Texas got burned on a faceoff set play by Grand Rapids.

"We talked about it between periods to be ready for faceoff plays. When a centerman goes in the circle and sees someone else taking the faceoff, he's got to be suspicious. Dowling got stung on it, and Ebert let his guy go to the net."

Matt Ford won the puck to Eric Tangradi for the 3-2 advantage on that play. The Stars had a strong push thereafter, generating some of their best chances of the game. It was to no avail. Late in the frame, McNeill was nabbed for high-sticking. The Stars looked to push on the PK but got caught up ice on a 3-on-1 the other way. Ben Street made it 4-2 on the PP. Matt Lorito would ice it at 5-2 with an empty netter.

"We did a lot of good things. We had a lot of good looks," said Coach Laxdal. "The first 30 minutes we were the better team, and then they pushed."

Texas will take their show onthe road with tomorrow's contest in San Antonio.

Tonight's lines:
Dickinson-Morin-McNeill
DeFazio-Dowling-Stransky
Werek-Smith-Ully
McMurtry-Fyten-Mangene

Heatherington-Ebert
Bodnarchuk-Honka
Bystrom-Stevenson

Peters

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Elie (call up)
Gurianov (lower body injury)
Herbert, Backman, Hache (scratch)

Denis Gurianov could return Wednesday for Texas.

Tonight's attendance was 5,899.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Grand Rapids - March 4 2017

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