|(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)|
"We're chasing the game," said Coach Laxdal. "We're down 2 or 3 nothing right off the hop, not getting the save early and then chasing the game. We didn't get great goaltending and that was the difference in the game."
John Muse got the start and stopped 21 of 26 shots against. Roman Will, who had only played in five games to this point this season, stopped 44 of Texas' 48 shots and earned the win.
"We came out a little slow in the first with five days off," noted captain Travis Morin. "They took advantage of it and got a couple."
The Stars offense continued to plug away with four goals but really, as Laxdal stated, the difference was in net. Soft goals against after Texas mistakes are ending up in the Stars' net every night. Not every puck is stoppable, but the Stars should expect their goaltenders to bail them out of a few tight jams. That isn't happening right now, and it's got them near the bottom of the goals against board in the league.
The puck luck isn't flowing their way right now as a late power play for San Antonio put Texas down 5-4 with 22 seconds left. The puck bounced off Stephen Johns in front and past Muse.
Nikita Zadorov opened the scoring for the San Antonio Rampage. Missed assignments left Zadorov uncovered for his seventh of the year. Just over two minutes later, Julius Honka mishandled the puck at the offensive blue line, sending the Rampage in on a semi-breakaway. John Muse made two saves but couldn't get the third as Dennis Everberg scored to make it 2-0.
Aside from one blemish, the second period was exactly what the Stars wanted. Radek Faksa broke in with Greg Rallo and passed off to the vet forward. His shot went clean off the iron to Faksa in the low slot for the 2-1 score.
San Antonio left former league MVP Travis Morin uncovered in the slot a few minutes later, and he went bar down off a pass from Matej Stransky behind the net. Michael Schumacher skated in late as Morin had already snapped the shot to tie things at two.
A late period power play saw the second power play unit of Johns, Bystrom, Dickinson, Dowling and Ritchie do everything but score as they hemmed in the Rampage for nearly the entire penalty. San Antonio got the better of Texas a few minutes later though as Joey Hishon beat John Muse from distance. Dennis Everberg was in front on the play, potentially restricting John Muse's motion. However, Texas had used its timeout in the first and could not challenge the play.
Coach Laxdal noted that he did not think it was interference, and Morin said the refs just called it a battle in front.
The Stars got back in it with a goal early in the third period on the power play. Esa Lindell snuck down the left wing to receive a cross-ice pass from Travis Morin and tie things at three.
Colin Smith scored with a laser of a shot coming down the right-wing side to beat Muse to the corner. Just a few minutes later, Curtis McKenzie redirected a Travis Morin shot past Will for the tie at four.
With things looking headed for OT, Esa Lindell took a questionable penalty with 28 seconds left in the third. Lindell got called for interference even as Dennis Everberg had him in a headlock.
Travis Morin narrated the ensuing play, "It's a faceoff we won and should have gotten the puck down. We didn't get enough on it, and they got a shot through traffic. We have to be able to clear the puck there and get it 200 feet."
Despite an offensive zone faceoff with six seconds left, the Stars fell by that 5-4 final.
"It's still not good enough," said Laxdal. "You've got to bear down and finish it out to get the point."
Texas plays the Rampage again tomorrow in San Antonio. Maxime Lagace, who was recalled earlier in the day, will get the start.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Blacker, Shore (injury)
Troock, Kane, Ully, Mangene, Lagace (scratch)
Tonight's attendance was 5,891.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Antonio - December 26 2015