|(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
"We need the points," said assistant coach Karl Taylor. "It's a desperate time of year and also the funnest time of year. It's when you want to play. No one's in the backyard pretending to go shelf in overtime of the exhibition game. You want to win the games down the stretch."
The power play was a big factor for the Stars tonight. While just two power play goals were officially tallied, Texas' first goal of the night came just as the power play expired. Lake Erie was also good on the power play, scoring two on three opportunities.
"The power play stepped up and gave us a chance to win the game. The PK let us down a bit tonight, but it's been strong most of the season. We have to tighten up in a few spots."
Justin Dowling continued, "We've been working on the power play a lot. We've been getting a lot of chances and it seems every game we're getting a goal. Today it worked out in our favor."
On that first almost power play goal, Justin Dowling rifled the puck to the net where it deflected off Scott Glennie and past Aittokallio for the 1-0 lead.
Actually on the power play a few minutes later, Julius Honka called for the puck on the left point and got exactly what he wanted on the pass from Matt Mangene. Honka walked up a bit to the top of the circle and picked a corner for the 2-0 lead.
The early second period was fast and furious back and forth action for both teams. Ben Youds and the Monsters scored on the power play just thirty seconds into the frame. Derek Meech had the answer off a nice pass form Justin Dowling, who slid the puck through the legs of a defenseman to an open Meech in the high slot for an open look.
Lake Erie answered the answer with a short-side goal on Jussi Rynnas from Sam Hentley, just his fifth goal of his rookie season.
That score would stand until late in the period when Julius Honka pulled off another impressive maneuver to generate a goal for Kevin Henderson. After nearly ceding the zone to an on-rushing Lake Erie forward, Honka kept the puck in by mere inches, stickhandled deftly down the left wing side and found an unguarded Kevin Henderson for a one-timer.
"I've got to give credit to Rallo," said Dowling. "He was on the bench yelling at me that Meech was open. I was able to catch him out of the corner of my eye. He had a great shot."
The power play found twine again in the third period off a too many men call for the Monsters. Derek Hulak got his 13th of the season on a far-side bid off the pass from Travis Morin.
Lake Erie made things interesting late. Ben Street scored on the power play at 11:33 and then the Monsters pulled Sami Aittokallio for the extra man with five minutes left in the third. They were rewarded with a bar-down goal by Reid Petryk with 4:13 left.
The Stars had a team first to end the game though. Travis Morin was breaking in on the net and two Lake Erie defenders threw their sticks to prevent a play at the empty net. According to rule, that is an awarded goal. It was the first awarded goal in team history either for or against. Morin's goal set the final at 6-4.
"I've only seen it two or three times," said Taylor. "It is rare."
Texas stays in town to take on Milwaukee for the first time this season on Saturday and Sunday.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Oleksiak, McKenzie, Ritchie (call up)
Root, Peters, Wrenn (scratch)
Karl Taylor on Devin Shore's first game: "He's running on adrenaline. We try not to give him too much but you have to give him some structure. You try to play him so he has some success. He won 5/8 faceoffs. I thought he did well tonight."
Tonight's attendance was 2,887.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Lake Erie - March 11 2015