|Travis Morin (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
"We know they're a good team," said Coach Desjardins. "If it's a series in our rink and we come out 1-1, that's not great because now we're in their rink. If we started in our rink, we've lost home ice advantage and if we started in theirs, we're down 3-1 and going into elimination."
Chris Mueller, who had the game's only goal for Texas, added, "We see this as a failure, splitting at home."
Texas had been red-hot at home coming into the game, streaking to twelve straight wins at the Cedar Park Center.
"Coming into the season," said Maxime Fortunus. "We wanted to be better at home, and that's one of the biggest things we wanted to do to get into the playoffs."
The Griffins were happy to come in the second night and pick up the win against a tough home club with a sellout crowd.
"They're as deep a team as we've faced all year and they're extraordinarily well coached," said Griffins' head coach Jeff Blashill. "We feel real good to come in here and get the win tonight."
"They are very deep and also play so hard and come at you with a good aggressiveness and put you on your heels. Their record at home is good because they're just on you."
Josh Robinson got the start and stopped 28 of 32 shots against.
The Stars and Griffins skated to a scoreless first period despite a pacey start. Overall, the two clubs were better matched than last night's first period. The period ended with shots in the Stars' favor 13-11.
Scoring action picked up in the second with a total of five goals between the two clubs. The Stars went first off a nifty play from Scott Glennie. Glennie broke into the zone down the right wing side and pulled up to make a backhand pass to the trailer, Chris Mueller, who beat Tom McCollum high glove.
Unfortunately for the sellout crowd, it was Grand Rapids the rest of the way. Mitch Callahan put up his 17th of the year on an in and out play. The puck hit the back center bar of the Texas net and came right out. Josh Robinson heard the 'ting' of the iron and protested the goal, but it stood.
The Stars got in penalty trouble in the middle of the period and gave up two more. First, the Griffins won a clean faceoff forward and into the net of Robinson on a short 4-on-4. Had that goal been scored three seconds later, the power play would have been wiped off the board.
"[Goals off the faceoff] happens maybe once a season. I can't remember the last time I saw that," said Fortunus.
The power play ensued, and just a few seconds later, Landon Ferraro scored on the power play as Teemu Pulkinnen found him all alone in the right wing circle.
Ferraro lit the lamp for a second time on the night on a 2-on-1 break. Jordin Tootoo and Ferraro broke away with Oleksiak back and Meech trailing the play. The vet D-man couldn't make it back to Ferraro before he rifled the pass behind Robinson for the 4-1 lead. Robinson allowed four goals on eleven shots in the period.
"Goals create momentum a lot," said Blashill. "Last night we played fine and the goals hurt us momentum wise. [That goal] was a huge turn of events."
Texas couldn't get anything going in the third period to help their case. The Stars continually had issues on the breakout passes from their own zone. It was as much the Griffins clogging the lanes as it was Texas just not making clean passes. To make matters worse, the league-leading power play was held scoreless on five chances.
"Our power play lost us the game today," said Mueller, who plays on the first PP unit. "Sometimes you aren't going to get the bounces, but we didn't create any momentum on them. The power play let the team down a little bit."
The Stars even had to kill a full two-minute 5-on-3 penalty late as Travis Morin and Mike Hedden went to the box for high sticking and unsportsmanlike conduct, respectively.
As the hoem stand continues, Texas looks to use the weekend series as a measuring stick to where they need to be and also as a way to solidfy the message around their system.
"For us, we knew that if played our game for sixty, there's not a lot of teams that can play with us," said Fortunus. "It's about making sure we have twenty guys on the ice ready to go."
Texas will face the San Antonio Rampage on Wednesday at home.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Peters, Petersen, Dowling, Nilstorp, Nemeth, Campbell, Ritchie, Jokipakka, Vause (injury)
Tonight's attendance was 6,863.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Grand Rapids - January 25 2014