|(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)|
"We've got to battle every night to keep this thing going," said Coach Laxdal. "We need all the points we can get to keep this thing alive."
'This thing' is the Texas Stars' playoff chances, which gained a bit of momentum with tonight's win. Brandon DeFazio noted, "You win tonight and you're happy about that, but it's just one game at a time. It's a daunting task and we're not oblivious to that. Focus on what you can control, a good effort and a good start."
Before the game, Texas talked about the importance of their first periods. They have a 22-7-0-2 record when scoring first and a 15-1-0-1 record when leading after the first period. The first goal tonight didn't come in the first period, but Texas did notch that goal.
A quiet first period gave way to a noisy second and third. Within 44 seconds, Texas went from scoreless to up 2-0. Ethan Werek scored from the slot then Texas earned a power play to set up Julius Honka's seventh of the year. Tucson got back in it with a goal from Tyler Gaudet to close the second at 2-1 Texas.
Denis Gurianov extended the lead to 3-1 with a masterful tip that really demonstated one of the main skills that will make him a successful NHLer someday: his speed. The tip play at the net off the pass from Morin and DeFazio came because Gurianov got in behind the defender lightning quick.
"He's learned to use his speed at all times and get to the areas where he'll score goals," said DeFazio. "As he matures, he'll learn to use that speed and the more often he gets to the house, the more often he scores."
Texas 'made it exciting' for the fans though, according to Laxdal, with two goals allowed in the third period to set up the tie game at the end of regulation. Joe Whitney's goal came as a defensive breakdown left him all alone on the backside for his 13th of the year. Just after the Roadrunners pulled Adin Hill for the extra attacker, Laurent Dauphin scored on a tight play at the net for the tie.
The Stars had seen this before in Cleveland last Saturday and didn't want to take the loss. "We figured it out quicker than last time in Cleveland. You want to find a way to shut that down, but it's better coming out with a win."
Matej Stransky ensured that win with 2:36 left in OT. A tight play at the net put the puck on his stick for the game-winner. Adin Hill was hot under the collar claiming interference, but it was deemed a good goal.
The Stars play again on Friday at home against Stockton.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Elie (call up)
Bystrom, Stevenson, Mangene (scratch)
Tonight's attendance was 4,877.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Tucson - March 22 2017