Boy, coming out of the gate this looked like the game I expected. There was a fight just three minutes into the game between Tyler Shelast and Heat D Pelech. Sadly, this invigorated the Heat more than the Stars, who capitalized on an opportunity just 48 second later to make the score 1-0 Heat. Brad Cole bombed a shot from the blueline, but Matt Climie directed the rebound right onto the stick of Van der Gulick who potted his fifth of the season.
Abbotsford made the lead 2-0 on a great cross-slot pass to Rikey Armstrong, who beat Climie stick side on the one-timer 9 minutes into the second. Maxime Fortunus would put Texas on the board, blasting one in from the blueline just before the 10 minute mark. We went to the third 2-1 Heat.
Texas had two power play opportunities in the third period but could close them out. at 15:50 of the third, Brett Sutter and Van der Gulik made good on a two-on-one opportunity, Sutter scoring his fourth of the season to make it 3-1. The Stars got on the power play almost immediately afterwards and one would think that Coach Gulutzan would pull Matt Climie with only 3 minutes left and a chance to go up 6-on-4. The Stars did not pull Climie and would go on to lose 3-1.
Why not pull Climie? I understand a goal in the last five minutes of a game can be demoralizing but if you have a shot at a 6-on-4, you have to take it. There are several teams close on Texas's tail in the West and we need to pick up points every night we can. I don't like this throw in the towel mentality.
If I were coach, I would work on the power play until it hurt. The Stars probably won't have a full-on morning skate tomorrow with the afternoon game against the Heat again. When given five power play opportunities against the worst penalty killing unit in the entire league, you have to score if you expect to win. The Heat allow opponents to score on a whopping 23% of power plays and we couldn't sneak one by. PP needs work.
Lines were hard to make out this game but here's what I got. Fourth line wasn't out there a lot and the feed cut out in the third so I wasn't able to get a read on all the lines.
Sawada-Beaudoin-Lindgren (never actually saw Lindgren on the ice, he didn't record a shot in the game)
AHL Gamesheet - Stars at Heat - January 8 2010