|(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)|
Travis Morin, who had three points on the night, was surprised to learn the game set the record for most PIMs by Texas, an opponent and combined. "I can't remember many like that. It was an emotional game. They're right ahead of us in the standings."
The power play stood out on the evening, going 4/7 thanks to the penalties from Tucson. The penalty kill was perfect on the weekend, stopping four tonight and even earning a shorthanded goal to finish the scoring.
Nick Ebert said, "[The power play] was a weak point of ours [previously]. We changed it up a bit, moving around a bit. Not just staying stationary, creating some confusion. We try not to be as basic, confuse them."
Morin added, "We've been getting good looks. It was just a matter of time. Tonight the floodgates just opened."
Texas jumped out to a three goal lead by the early second period as Tucson seemed completely out of sorts. Matej Stransky generated the first goal with a nice move ot get around a defender in the neutral zone. On the ensuing zone time, Travis Morin scored his 16th of the year in tight off the pass from Nick Ebert.
Just two minutes later, Texas was on the power play and saw Julius Honka find a lane through traffic for a clean shot to the net. The Stars finished the first up 2-0 and kept going in the second. This time, Ebert finished a power play himself sneaking to the top of the hashes for shot that made it look too easy and the 3-0 lead.
"[Getting an early lead] is something we haven't done a lot of lately," said captain Travis Morin. "To get a lead allows you to play a little freer. It's huge to play a little freer and looser."
Last night's rambunctiousness and some frustration from the score boiled over in the second period. The Roadrunners took to fisticuffs in order to get themselves back into things. Dustin Stevenson squared off with Stefan Fournier in a battle that Stevenson won handily. Denis Gurianov was roped into a fight next as Anthony DeAngelo just started pummeling him. Gurianov did not win that fight.
At 8:21, that was when the wheels came off. A collision in the corner to the right of Justin Peters led to fights between Matt Mangene, Justin Hache, Gemel Smith and Michael Bunting, Eric Selleck and Brandon Burton, respectively. To keep the peace, Mangene and Bunting were ejected.
With plenty of room to stretch your legs out on the benches, Tucson started their offensive evening. Christian Fischer broke up the shutout at 11:35 and Eric Selleck made it a one-goal game with 3 seconds left in the second.
The Stars would dominate the third period with two more power play goals and a shorty to put the game away. Tucson got belligerent with a cross-check and a board in rapid succession, putting Texas on a 5-on-3. Matej Stransky scored five-hole for the 4-2 score. Just over a minute later, Gemel Smith scored in tight on the 5-on-4 power play to make it 5-2. The Roadrunners continued to tack on the PIMs with two misconducts for abuse of officials in the final frame. Remi Elie would score a shorty to finish the scoring late.
Coach Laxdal praised the team in this character builder game, "Tonight had a great atmosphere, a pretty intense game. You knew exactly what the game meant. It was right until the final buzzer. It gels our team together. It was a battle."
With the a .533 win percentage, Texas maintains fifth place and has a slight cushion on sixth place Bakersfield. The Stars are off until Friday against the Wolves.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
O'Donnell, Bystrom, Herbert (scratch)
Tonight's attendance was 5,483.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Tucson - February 11 2017