Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Texas Stars Play Composed Game, Getting Solid Win Over Rampage 4-3

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars battled back from three individual one-goal deficits and eventually broke free in the third to defeat San Antonio 4-3 in Cedar Park this evening. The power play took a starring role with Curtis McKenzie converting on two opportunities in the game.

"I liked our response from Saturday night," said Coach Laxdal. "I liked the way we responded. We had good composure in our game. Every time they went ahead, we battled back to tie it up. To win on a sleepy Wednesday is a big two points for us."

Even with San Antonio scoring on the first shift of the game, Texas goaltender Landon Bow, starting his third game in the team's last four, didn't let that shake him.

"You can't think about it too much. Goals are going to happen. That one was early enough. There's still plenty of hockey left."

Bow didn't have to be spectacular, but he came up big several times in the third period to keep things tied and give Texas a shot at the win. "He's pushed Mike [McKenna] a little bit," said Laxdal. "It's good to have that inner competition in the group. He had good composure and made some important saves for us as the game went along."

After the Rampage opened the scoring early, McKenzie stepped up on the power play. It was surgical passing from Travis Morin to find McKenzie on the backdoor from the right wing circle.

"It was tough at the start of the year when our [power play] percentage wasn't great," said McKenzie. "I thought we had tons of chances over the games. It wasn't like we weren't getting any opportunities. We knew things were eventually going to break and we've found a couple of units that are working well."

Coach Laxdal noted that his veteran power play group consisting of McKenzie, Morin, Justin Dowling, Brian Flynn and a defenseman has had a lot of success over the past week and a half, dating back to a 3-for-6 effort in San Diego.

The back-and-forth goal scoring continued in the second period. A.J. Greer went blocker side on Bow for the 2-1 lead at even strength. Just a few minutes later, it was McKenzie again, answering back with yet another power play goal. It was nearly the same setup with the scoring line switched up.

"They were just both great looks where they went cross ice and didn't quite have the one timer," said McKenzie. "I went to the net backdoor, and they hit with great passes on the backside. It started ahead of that though. The battles of guys winning pucks and retrieving pucks in the corners."

Alex Belzile whipped one in on the power play off a great primary assist from Tage Thompson to reset the lead for San Antonio. That lasted all of eight minutes until Roope Hintz broke in down the left wing side for his fourth of the year and the 3-3 tie after 40. Going into tonight, Texas has been outscored 22-8 in the third. "We got the win in the third," said McKenzie. "Our thirds haven't been great, and it's something we've been working on."

The final score of the game came on a weird bounce. Samuel Laberge tracked back on an offensive zone exit to start the play. Matt Mangene finished it with a backhand, roofing it over Spencer Martin for the ultimate game winner.

Texas hits the road for a lengthy trip starting in San Antonio on Saturday.

Tonight's lines:
Flynn-Hintz-Dickinson
Morin-Dowling-McKenzie
Mangene-Dries-Gurianov
French-Markison-Laberge

Bodnarchuk-Honka
Heatherington-Regner
Scarlett-Hansson

Bow

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Elie (call up)
Ully, Rallo, McNeill, Bayreuther, Thompson (scratch)
Fyten (injury)

Tonight's attendance was 4,734.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Antonio - November 15 2017

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