|Dustin Jeffrey just before scoring his second of the night.
(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
"We had a huge layoff," said Dustin Jeffrey, who scored two goals tonight. "Sometimes you see teams come out rusty, but the way we put pressure on their D put a lot of doubt in their game and generated turnovers."
Jeffrey put on a show, displaying the talent that made him a waiver wire claim by Dallas. His play went beyond the two goals on the score sheet as he created turnovers on the forecheck and played well in the defensive zone as well. It was the best game he's had as a Texas Star.
"He played well tonight," said Coach Desjardins. "He capitalized on his chances. We need that line playing well for us, and they had a good game."
Texas scored two off stretch passes on the night, displaying the quickness of their transition game.
Jeffrey added, "If you look at our team all year, we generated a lot of turnovers and our transition game is quick. If you look at the guys we have, that shows the talent we have."
Jack Campbell got the start and stopped 23 of 25 in the contest. He hadn't played in 12 days.
It didn't take long for the Texas Stars to get things started in the first period. Brendan Ranford continued his scoring ways with a breakaway goal off the pass from Travis Morin. Ranford waited out Griffins' netminder Petr Mrazek for his third of the playoffs.
Morin described the play, "Ranford saw a lane to jump and jumped. I found a lane through to him and he buried it."
Just 13 seconds later, Dustin Jeffrey scored his first of the postseason, a nice backhand effort high glove side off the pass from Chris Mueller. Texas scored two on three shots and forced a Grand Rapids timeout.
Grand Rapids struck back on the power play. With Justin Dowling in the box, an atypical occurrence, Texas blew coverage on Nathan Paetsch at the point. Toby Petersen laid out for it, but Jack Campbell's last ditch effort couldn't stop Cory Emmerton's second of the year.
The two teams slowed down on shots through the middle of the frame. A late power play for Texas yielded the third goal of the night for the home side. Mike Hedden redirected a Jyrki Jokipakka shot up high over Mrazek blocker side.
Grand Rapids pulled within one again as the second opened. Tomas Jurco went bar down on Jack Campbell to make it 3-2. Neither Cameron Gaunce nor Jamie Oleksiak stepped up on Jurco, giving him time and space to score his second of the postseason.
The Stars would have the next two though. Another breakaway chance scored the fourth one. Jyrki Jokipakka sprung Curtis McKenzie up the middle. McKenzie's shot popped up on Mrazek and dropped into the net behind him.
Morin continued, "It took a great pass from Jokipakka and a lucky break to go off [Mrazek's] back. To put the goal right back on them and get the two goal lead back, it's a dagger to them and gets us going."
Dustin Jeffrey would continue his stellar night a few minutes later with his second of the game. He deked around Riley Sheahan and deposited the pill five hole on Mrazek for the 5-2 lead. It was a power play goal assisted by Morin and Maxime Fortunus.
"It was a great play by Morin," said Jeffrey, who was unexpectedly all alone on the play. "With the talent and structure we have on both power play units, we improvise a lot and when we turn it up there it creates confusion within their system."
The third period was relatively quiet. Grand Rapids picked up the shot count with an 11-6 advantage in the frame. The Stars led the shots in the game by a margin of 36-25.
Game 2 is Saturday at Cedar Park Center.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Labrie, Guptill, Desrosiers, Troock, Peters, Vause, Wrenn, Byström (scratched)
Klingberg, Hulak, Ritchie (injury)
The fourth line played very well tonight. Everyone in postgame scrum commented positively on the line. Coach Desjardins pointed out the positive of being able to put them out for defensive zone faceoffs.
Today's attendance was 2,661.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Grand Rapids - May 8 2014