|Gurianov beats Gillies in the second. (Credit: Derek Sparta/Texas Stars)|
"It was better effort by our group," said Texas head coach Derek Laxdal. "Our guys were challenged and they rose to the occassion. I was happy with the effort and the way they responded."
While no one was "driving the bus" last night for the Stars, according to Laxdal, tonight he praised the team for every player looking to take a driving role in the night's success.
"Everyone pitched in and no one was sitting at the back of the bus tonight. Everyone was trying to get into that driver's seat."
It was a back and forth game as one team would claw ahead only to see the score tied up shortly thereafter.
"That's a playoff style game there," noted Colin Markison, who scored to tie the game in the second just 16 seconds after a Stockton goal. "There were a lot of emotions, ups and downs. We did well to stay to our game plan."
That game plan got knocked off course slightly to start the game as Spencer Foo continued his excellent weekend against the Stars on the power play. Texas answered back on a power play goal of their own late in the period. Curtis McKenzie put traffic in front, clearing the way for Brent Regner's fourth goal of the year and the 1-1 tie after twenty. Markison added that was the plan, "Our game plan was to just get traffic in front of [Stockton goalie Jon Gillies]."
Stockton jumped out to another lead early in the second, but Markison was on the receiving end of a great pass from Tommy Thompson, which he roofed for the tie. Laxdal praised the winger, who had two assists tonight, "[Thompson's] done exactly what he needs to do to stay in the lineup. He's got good speed and he's physical."
Thompson's second assist came on the go-ahead goal by Denis Gurianov. It appeared as though Gillies had the puck covered off Gurianov's shot, but as the Heat goalie pulled the puck into his pads, he slid it under them instead and into his own net.
Brett Pollock washed away that bad taste though with his fourth of the year, all scored against Texas this weekend.
All night, the officiating was suspect as two first year referees struggled to control the game on both sides. More matching minors or 'send a message' minors should have been assessed to keep things tame. Luckily, no one was hurt as a result of these transgressions.
During one of those rare matching minors, Gavin Bayreuther snuck down low and roofed a shot past Gillies for the 4-3 lead. That would stand as the final score.
Late in the second, Texas lost Curtis McKenzie as he appeared to collide with one of his own teammates and was clipped. He went down immediately and did not return. He is out with a lower body injury and will not travel to Utica for the All-Star Game.
Texas defended its lead in the third, including just over two minutes of 6-on-5. Mike McKenna finished with 26 saves on 29 shots. Jon Gillies was challenged fewer times in net but pierced more, taking the loss with 18 saves on 22 shots.
Texas is off until next Friday for the All-Star Break.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett, Rallo, McNeill, Mangene, Hansson (scratch)
Tonight's attendance was 6,863, a sellout.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Stockton - January 27 2018