|Josh Robinson stops one in the shootout. (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)|
"They got one early and we battled but couldn't score. They're good defensively and don't give you a lot of looks in front of the net. The power play was big tonight."
Chris Mueller, who had a goal an assist and the shootout winner, added, "We have four guys that like to score [on the first power play]. Teams like to scout and take away one or two options, and that folds power plays. We have four or five options."
In injury news, Texas lost Cristopher Nilstorp in the game to a left leg injury. He was relieved by Josh Robinson, who got the win with 10 saves on 12 shots in relief.
"It's hard to do, sit and then be called upon to make big saves and get into the shootout," said Mueller. "He's been doing a great job in practice and we're happy for him."
Coach Desjardins does not expect Jack Campbell to be ready for the weekend, potentially leaving Josh Robinson as the top man in net for the Stars as they face the number one team in the conference for back-to-back games.
The scoring got started on the flukiest of power play tallies for the Wild. Matej Stransky took his seat in the box and Iowa needed just one faceoff and a total of seven second to draw first blood. Brian Connelly's shot off the faceoff win rainbowed up over Derek Meech and a kneeling Cristopher Nilstorp and gently into the back of the net. Jon Landry and Raphael Bussieres assisted on the tally.
"Even their guy was laughing when it went in," said Mueller. "There's not much you can do. Nilstorp was screened and their guy didn't expect to score there. Goals like that, they're not going to beat you. That's what we said on the bench. We're working too hard for a goal like that to beat us."
Texas seemed to be having trouble getting things going as the first and second progressed. Despite a plethora of shots, the quality was rather low overall. Johan Gustafsson stopped 26 shots in the first and second combined.
The Stars did not get on the power play until late in the second period. After a few iffy no-calls, the Wild were nabbed for two minors, Tyler Cuma for holding and unsportsmanlike. In the end, Texas would score on the advantage but not before going down by a man in a different way. After stopping the puck behind the net, Cristopher Nilstorp navigated his way back to the crease, backing around the left wing side of the net. A forechecking Chad Rau caught the back of Nilstorp's left leg. Nilstorp went down in a heap and had to be helped off the ice, unable to put weight on that leg. Josh Robinson came in. There was no penalty on the play, which appeared to be incidental contact.
"You're supposed to avoid the goalie at all times, right?" said Mueller. "Hopefully we wasn't trying to take his leg out and knowing Rau, I don't think he would. It is what it is. The refs thought it wasn't a penalty and you have to respect their decision."
Coach Desjardins added, "I like the ref. He made the call and was decisive. I might not agree with it, but I have the advantage of watching it on video. It's a lot tougher when it's happening quick. He made the call."
As the third period opened, Texas got the power play goal they needed to spark the offense. It wasn't pretty, as the net came off its moorings as the puck went in off the stick of Curtis McKenzie. However, the goal, assisted by Chris Mueller and Travis Morin, set the score at one all.
Iowa bit back with Raphael Bussieres breaking in alone off a pass that went through the legs of the Texas defender. The puck slid five-hole for the 2-1 Wild lead. Less than three minutes later, the Texas power play activated again. This time Travis Morin completed a pretty pass from the right wing circle to Chris Mueller on the back door for the tap-in goal. Colton Sceviour had the second assist.
"That's just a great job by Sceviour to hit Morin in the seam. I should have had two from Morin but McKenzie got my first goal," said Mueller, smiling. "That's just two great plays by Morin."
Sceviour got one of his own late that seemingly sealed the deal. Breaking in with Morin, Sceviour received the pass from his center iceman in the right wing circle and sniped one high glove on Gustafsson for the 3-2 lead with 64 seconds left.
That lead didn't last long as the Stars got discombobulated in their own zone, leaving Zack Phillips uncovered as the puck zoomed through Robinson's crease and out to the slot. Phillips was the only one with eyes on the puck, which he buried for the three all tie and a chance at overtime.
"It somehow eluded three of us, and they found it," said Robinson.
After no scoring in the overtime period, Texas headed to the shootout.
"We outchanced them in overtime. We've been winning games by a lot early so we haven't had to play a third period. This is how games are going to be down the stretch."
On the season, the Stars had an 0-3 record in shootout games. They got their first win thanks to some solid work from Sceviour and Mueller. Sceviour used his typical forehand-backhand move to beat Gustafsson after Carson McMillan scored on the opening round shot. Mueller picked up his goal in the third round while Josh Robinson stopped four of five to seal the win.
"Nilstorp told me to go high glove any chance I got," said Mueller. "[Gustafsson] dipped the glove at the end, and I just put it over top."
Texas is next in action on Friday at home against the conference's top team, the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Nemeth, Campbell, Ritchie, Jokipakka, Vause (injury)
Mueller on Glennie: "I love playing with Glennie. We didn't practice for three days and that put him in a bad spot for conditioning. I thought he did great and provided a lot of jump and speed."
Coach on Glennie: "Glennie was real good tonight. He battled hard and skated. He's a big plus when we get him back."
Today's attendance was 4,691.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Iowa - January 22 2014