|Brett Pollock celebrates his third goal of the game|
(credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Stars coach Derek Laxdal lamented his team's effort after the game saying, "We didn't have anybody going tonight. That was on us a little bit, but it was mostly on [Stockton]. They played a containment game and took away our time and space in the neutral zone. We thought it was going to be an easy game, and it was an easy game for the Stockton Heat."
The Stars got off to a promising start when they forced a neutral zone turnover within the first five minutes of the game. Samuel Laberge fired a screaming wrist shot through the high slot to put Texas up by one on their second shot. Justin Dowling, who finished with two assists in the game, had a helper along with Julius Honka on the goal.
Laberge weighed in on the goal: "We were trying to keep our game simple. It shot a hard shot and it went right through the hole. It was a simple play."
With just over two minutes to go in the first period, Heat winger Spencer Foo evened the game up. He avoided a couple of back checkers and froze Bow with a slick shot fake, then went behind him with a soft wrister for his first of two goals in the game. Coming off his two goal game-winning performance on Tuesday evening, Brian Flynn answered on the very next shift with a point blank goal that was set up across the ice from Dowling.
Five minutes into the second period, Bow made the save on a hard shot from the point but couldn't put a fork in the rebound. Pollock came in hot and crashed hard to the net score the first of his three goals in the game.
Laxdal wasn't pleased with the first two periods. "The game was won and lost in the first period. We've got to compete for 60 minutes in our building. We didn't have any zone time and ended up with 20 shots. We've got to work 5-on-5 and we didn't have a lot of compete or battle on pucks. [Stockton] set the tone with their work ethic, and we didn't match it. Even when the game was 2 to 2, they were the better team."
The wheels came off in the third period when the Stars allowed four successive goals in just about any way you can draw up. The teams traded penalties and had two minutes of 4-on-4. Pollock netted his second goal, crashing the net again when Bow struggled with the rebound.
The Stars had a chance to make up for it with a power play a few minutes later, but they gave up their sixth shorthanded goal of the year to Foo to put them in a two goal hole.
"We have to talk about it," said Laberge. "They're coming in our building and outworking us--we can't accept that. We have to work harder. We were out-skilled and out-worked."
Finally, with seven minutes to go, Pollock buried the Stars for good on an even strength goal that took the wind out of the capacity crowd. Heat defenseman sent most of the home with an empty net goal to throw the dirt on.
"It was competitive one way for one team and it wasn't the Texas Stars tonight. Plain and simple," said Laxdal.
The Stars wrap up their two game set against the Stockton Heat on Saturday, January 27th. The puck drops at 7:00 PM CST.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett, Rallo, McNeill, Thompson, Paliotta (scratch)
Tonight's attendance was 6,863.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Stockton - January 26 2018