|(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
"That's something we've keyed in on the last few weeks," said Derek Hulak of the power play. "In some of the games we were close, the power play was the difference, and we needed to bear down. We had a lot of movement out there tonight."
In addition to the power play success, Texas amped up their physical edge to match the heavy tone of the visiting Admirals.
"They're a heavy team up front," said former Admiral Scott Valentine. "So we knew they would be physical. We upped that from the start."
Valentine and Kevin Henderson both had this game circled on the calendar as it was their first chance to face their former club.
"There was a lot of emotion out there. Personally, the biggest thing was trying to harness that. For the most part, I kept myself in check and my teammates played for me and Henderson."
"I thought Valentine did a great job," said Coach Laxdal, who also mentioned Valentine's fight in the first period. "Everybody brought the passion that we've been lacking in our starts recently."
Hulak added, "Whenever you have guys on your team playing their old squad, you want to amp it up a bit. It was nice to get this one for those guys."
Right off the drop, Texas went hard at this Milwaukee squad. The Stars drew a holding penalty and Scott Glennie cashed in at the net off a pinpoint pass from Justin Dowling. A few minutes later, Travis Morin collected a cross-ice pass from Greg Rallo and found himself with a yawning net for the 2-0 lead, this one at even strength.
The power play struck again just under nine minutes into the game. Greg Rallo went five hole on Marek Mazanec for the Stars' third goal on their fifth shot. Milwaukee called their time out, and it looked like Mazanec might be headed for the showers.
The power play's success keyed on a lot of movement in their setup. Coach Laxdal indicated a lot of that was truly calculated movement, but there might have been a bit too much in the end. Overall, in the last two months, he believes the power play is "trending in the right direction."
The Ads battled back in the first, and rookie phenom Kevin Fiala got them on the board late with his seventh of the year.
"To get two power play goals in the first period, as long as you don't let off the gas pedal, it's always a good thing."
Derek Hulak scored the Stars' third power play goal of the night in the second period on the second deflection of a Maxime Fortunus shot-pass. Greg Rallo had the primary assist to give him a goal and two helpers on the night.
The Ads would not go down quietly though, as Bitetto scored with 10 seconds left in the period to make it 4-2. The tight score setup a tense 3rd period. Texas had a chance to seal it with their fourth power play goal of the night mid-period but could not convert.
Late in the frame, Texas yielded two PP chances to the Ads back-to-back. The penalty kill stood strong with both Valentine and Henderson breaking sticks and giving up the body to ensure the win. Colton Sissons would get one more goal with the extra attacker but the Stars held up for the 4-3 win.
Milwaukee stays in town to play what will surely a spirited game against Texas again tomorrow.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Oleksiak, McKenzie, Ritchie (call up)
Faille, Root, Bystrom (scratch)
Faksa, Honka (injury)
Tonight's attendance was 4,709.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Milwaukee - March 14 2015