|Justin Dowling and Mike Hedden celebrate the game-winner|
(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
"It was close," agreed Coach Desjardins. "Both the games in OKC could have gone either way, and it was close tonight too. Tied in the third, you can't get much closer than that."
Texas opened up a lead in the first period on a Brendan Ranford goal, his second of the series. It was the first lead the Stars had held in the series after trailing in both previous games and winning in overtime.
"I haven't heard of that too much," said Justin Dowling. "Where you're up 2-0 and you haven't had a lead yet."
The game looked to be mirroring the contests in OKC as Texas put up a 2-0 lead and then OKC mounted a comeback to even terms in the third period.
This time, Texas would not need overtime to end the contest. After being frustrated on the power play all night, the Stars scored on their eighth opportunity of the game, a 5-on-3 chance, off the stick of Justin Dowling.
With nine minutes left in the game, the Barons worked to tie the score but could not get the goal they needed. With just over a minute left, Coach Todd Nelson pulled Richard Bachman for the extra attacker. The Stars gained control and Scott Glennie deposited the puck into the empty net for the 4-2 final.
The Stars completed a series sweep for the first time since their inaugural season with the win. In 2010, Texas won swept their opening round, seven-game series against the Rockford IceHogs.
Coach Todd Nelson had some kind words for the club as they move forward to the second round: "[Coach Willie Desjardins] can roll four lines and doesn't have to be worried about matchups. Moving forward, they have a great opportunity to see this through right to the end, and we wish them the best of luck."
Texas opened the scoring in the first period. The top line delivered again with Travis Morin working hard along the goal line to retrieve a puck. He slipped it over to a hard-charging Brendan Ranford, who tapped it home off the quick pass for the 1-0 lead.
"It was a really good play by McKenzie to push the defense back," said Ranford. "He got it to Morin and we all know how good Morin is. He made that pass look pretty easy. I just had to put it into the open net."
The Stars continued their scoring ways in the second period. Recent assignee, Chris Mueller, re-introduced himself to the Cedar Park faithful with his first of the postseason. He managed to get around the OKC defense off a nice pass from Toby Petersen. In alone, he beat Bachman high for the 2-0 lead.
"I owe it to this team to come down and help them," said Mueller of his role as an assignment from Dallas.
The power play had issues for the home team in the second period. It went 1-for-10 on the night overall and allowed a shorthanded tally in the frame. OKC had a talent for picking up goals down a man in the regular season and showed why on the Stars' fourth PP of the game. Captain Anton Lander completed a 2-on-1, beating Cristopher Nilstorp five hole to cut the clear to 2-1 after forty.
Mueller intoned, "They did a good job of sealing lanes and blocking shots. We just have to clean it up."
The Barons got the tying goal in the opening minutes of the third period. Brad Hunt found twine from the point through traffic for the two all score.
Hunt would give it back by taking a four-minute minor for high sticking Mueller, generating a Stars 5-on-3.
Dowling narrates the play, "I was looking back door for Hedden's stick and if it wasn't there I was looking for Glennie. I saw Bachman just kind of stand up. If he got a piece of it, it would just be sitting in the crease and someone could whack it in. I saw him cheating so I tried to slide it in."
He got it past Bachman for his first of the playoffs with just under nine minutes left.
Soon thereafter, the Barons had a chance at the equalizer on a 2-on-1. Vet Mueller backchecked hard to hook the Barons forward and end the chance.
"Anybody in my position would have done the same thing. That was desperation and I guess it's a good penalty to take."
Texas played a strong puck possession game through the final minutes and earned Scott Glennie an empty net goal.
The second round schedule and opponent are yet to be determined. The series will start on Cedar Park Center ice likely next Wednesday or Friday.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Labrie, Guptill, Desrosiers, Nemeth, Troock, Peters, Vause (scratched)
Klingberg, Hulak, Ritchie (injury)
Nemeth was a late add. Coach Desjardins indicated he would have played in case of a Game 4.
Today's attendance was 4,786.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Oklahoma City - April 30 2014
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