Friday, April 6, 2018

Stars Squeeze Point Out of 3-2 Shootout Loss to IceHogs

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars made a dent in their magic number for a playoff berth but only a small one after losing to the Rockford IceHogs 3-2 in a shootout. Gavin Bayreuther scored a late 6-on-5 goal to send it to overtime. Tenured NHL defenseman Cody Franson tallied two assists for the IceHogs, who went 2-for-2 on the power play and blanked the Stars on their two chances.

“If you’re PK is loose, making mistakes and not getting pucks out, you’re going to get stung,” said Stars coach Derek Laxdal. “And if your PP is sloppy and lazy, you’re not going to score any goals. I think we looked a little, I guess the word would be dozy, in both groups.”

Landon Bow was solid in net (24 saves on 26 shots) but couldn’t make one final stop in the shootout. Bayreuther was optimistic about the outcome. “Every point is big. I think it’s our second OT loss in a row. A point is a point, and we’ll move on for tomorrow.”

A scary moment occurred midway through the third period when Austin Fyten went down in a hard collision at the blue line. He was taken off the ice by a trainer and did not return to the game.

The game didn’t have the expected playoff feel at the outset, and both teams had trouble establishing any kind of forecheck. “We looked slow tonight and that’s a process of their team being really fast,” said Laxdal. Scoreless play ended when Brent Regner took a pass at the blue line from Jason Dickinson and found the five hole on Collin Delia with three minutes left in the first period.

Dickinson finished the game with two assists and continued his torrid scoring pace since coming back to Cedar Park, with four points in two games.

Playoff intensity and chippiness were ramped in the second period, most notably when Andrew Bodnarchuk took issue with Henrik Samuelsson cross checking Curtis McKenzie after a whistle was blown a few minutes in, causing a minor fracas.

After eleven minutes into the middle frame, the Stars paid the price for ceding the first power play of the game. Their penalty kill failed them, a common occurrence as of late, on a shot from the high slot that bounced its way to Tyler Sikura’s stick and in past Bow to tie the game up.

Bayreuther wasn’t discouraged by the poor special teams showing. “We’re not playing bad hockey. Sometimes at their blue line you’ve got to get pucks in deep and get past defenders. I think if we tighten up a few little things we’ll be alright.”

The Stars had two prime opportunities to retake the lead over the next several minutes of play with two power plays but failed to make Delia blink. It would come back to haunt them four minutes into the final frame when Franson set Chris DiDomenico up for a slap shot for Rockford’s second power play goal.

Bow headed to the bench with a little over two minutes left in regulation, and Bayreuther picked up his game-tying goal thirty seconds later, sending the game to overtime. Brian Flynn was key on the play, winning a tough faceoff and assisting on the goal along with Dickinson.

Bayreuther wasn’t concerned with how the goal looked. “Good things happen when pucks hit the net--rebounds, lucky bounces. I think it hit one of [Rockford's] shin pads or skates, but they don’t ask how, right?”

After the overtime frame yielded few shots on net for either team, Travis Morin was the lone scorer for the Stars in the shootout. Franson matched Morin’s goal, followed by the winner from Viktor Svedberg. “It stings tonight because we had a good look,” said Laxdal. “We scored on our third shooter. We needed a save, and the guy came down and ripped one. But when you look back on this for us to come back and tie it up late and get that point is huge.”

Bayreuther expects it to be even more of a challenge in tomorrow’s game. “I think we’ve got to play a little harder and a little grittier. It’s playoff hockey now.”

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-L’Esperance
Dickinson-Hintz-Flynn
Dries-Dowling-Gurianov
Laberge-Fyten-Markison

Hanna-Hansson
Bayreuther-Regner
Bodnarchuk-Scarlett

Bow

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Kelleher, Rallo, Thompson, Paliotta, O’Brien, Magene, Payne (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 4,938.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Rockford - April 6 2018

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