|Brian Flynn finds the slot late in the game|
(credit: Texas Stars/Andy Nietupski)
“To come back with a day of heavy travel and play tonight, it’s a tough game and you worry about the energy,” said head coach Derek Laxdal. “We had to engage in more battles mentally and physically, and our guys persevered.”
The win helped Texas keep pace with the stacked Pacific division.
“If you lose two in a row, you can be at the bottom. If you win two in a row, you can move up in the division. It’s a sprint to the finish, and every divisional game is huge.”
In a precursor of things to come, Flynn had two point blank chances in the first two periods but couldn’t get them to go. Early signs pointed to the Stars having something to build on with the play. Flynn elaborated after the game: “[Morin’s] been going down to [McKenzie] all year and [McKenzie’s] been scoring, and teams are kind of cheating on that. So we saved it and fortunately it worked.”
Denis Gurianov, who later assisted on Hintz’s goal, almost notched an early helper with a centering feed to Tommy Thompson. Texas Stars head coach called tonight’s game Gurianov’s best of the year.
The Stars outshot the Barracuda 13-10 in the first period, but AHL All Star netminder Antoine Bibeau withstood the early testing.
The Barracuda generated a great look early in the second period and capitalized with a goal from forward Alexander True. Jon Martin made an excellent play, protecting the puck along the boards and finding True’s stick in the slot with a precision pass.
On the penalty kill, Hintz, Brent Regner, and Curtis McKenzie had an odd-man rush that produced at least two good chances. Bibeau was simply the best player on the ice for much of the game. Laxdal agreed, saying “Both goalies were outstanding tonight. It kept the game close and gave it a playoff feel. Bibeau was an excellent free agent find for them.”
The Stars finally got something to go after chipping away at Bibeau with a power play goal from Hintz. Just as the final second of the San Jose penalty was ticking away, Gurianov centered the puck to Hintz, who was breaking towards the net to finish the play.
A few minutes later, Barracuda defenseman Paul Martin had a shot from the point that somehow stayed out as it hit the crossbar. Marcus Sorensen regained the lead for San Jose as he was left relatively unchecked skating into the slot.
Late in the third period with time running out for a comeback, Matt Mangene drew a tripping penalty for the Stars with 1:26 left in the game. Texas immediately pulled Bow to go 6-on-4. Flynn was able to get his tip-in play to click when he took the pass from Travis Morin, who still leads the AHL in assists. Flynn talked about the cohesion with Morin: “Me and [Morin] talked about it after our couple of power plays in the second [period]. I thought I was open.”
The Stars were dominated in regulation on the face-off dot but won three straight when it mattered most in overtime. Flynn’s knack for getting to the front of the net in the game paid dividends again as he beat everyone up ice and scored another tip-in to win the game for the Stars. Flynn described the play: “It’s a play that [Dowling] and I talked about before we went out. Forwards tend to cheat a little bit. I thought maybe I could beat him, and [Dowling] laid a good pass in there.”
The Texas Stars will faceoff against the Stockton Heat on Friday at 7:30 PM CST in Cedar Park.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Dickinson, Heatherington (call-up)
Rallo, McNeill (scratch)
Dries (injury, day-to-day)
Sheldon Dries is out with an upper body injury, hoping to return Friday.
Tonight's attendance was 4,580.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Jose - January 23 2018