|(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Dries, who scored the game winning goal weighed in on the effort. “It came down to the third. The first two periods we came out flat. We didn’t play our style of game so we really needed a push in those last 20, and I thought we did that. We were putting pucks and bodies to the net and once again we got the result.”
The game took awhile to get out of the mud, but the Stars made a couple of great defensive plays to keep it scoreless. After a spirited bout between Sheldon Dries and Alex Belzile ten minutes into the first period, Justin Dowling knelt in the slot for a key crouch block to break up a potential tic-tac-toe play.
Rookie defenseman Gavin Bayreuther later broke up a cross-crease feed that would have set up the Rampage to take the lead halfway through the second period. The Stars also dodged a bullet with eight and a half minutes to go in the middle frame when the Rampage had a goal waived off for a high stick.
Stars head coach Derek Laxdal was left wanting more from the game. “I didn’t think we were great tonight,” he said. “I just think we did enough to hang around. The power play was sloppy, but if those guys can be sharper tomorrow night, it gives us a better chance of coming out with the W.”
The Stars killed off the first power play of the game and almost held the game scoreless heading into the second intermission but couldn’t stop the rush after the penalty expired. With thirty seconds to go, Zach Sanford entered the zone unhindered and scored blocker side high. Though Bow would go on to have a great game, his shutout bid was done after 21 shots.
Twenty seconds into the third period, Roope Hintz had a chance to knot the game up with a penalty shot but was met with Spencer Martin’s pad. The Stars, however, scored two goals on only four shots in the period.
Laxdal talked about the third period being the turning point. “We challenged the guys in the third period. This is a playoff game, down 1-0, how are you going to respond in the third period? We scored some big goals and killed a couple big penalties.”
After Sanford clanged a shot off the post near the five minute mark, nearly picking up his second goal, Gurianov took a Brian Flynn pass the other way on the next shift and beat Martin on the rush in a mirror image to the goal Bow allowed earlier in the game.
The Rampage caught a break when Austin Fyten, who would later drop the gloves with Felix Girard, hit a post twelve minutes into the final frame but couldn’t catch a second one. Dries scored his goal to pull the Stars ahead 2-1, picking another high corner. “[Greg Rallo] had a good turnover, chipped it wide,” said Dries. “I saw the goalie cheating a little bit so I tried to put it far side and it went post and in. It was a lucky one I’d say.”
Bow continued his strong play the rest of the game and was aided by plays like one from Dries. With two minutes left in the game, Dries slid across the slot to break up a high danger chance from the rushing Rampage. With their net empty, the Rampage couldn’t get one of their 17 total shots in the third period to go, and Bow completed his strong showing.
Bow talked about the high shot totals against after the game: “We knew it was going to be a tough game against these guys. They’re pushing for a playoff spot right now, and they push bodies and pucks to the net. So seeing that many shots isn’t a surprise. We knew we’d have to be prepared for it and I think we handled it well.”
The Stars wrap up their back-to-back set against the Rampage tomorrow in San Antonio. “Ten games left we have to go into their building tomorrow night,” said Laxdal. “We gotta pick ourselves up, enjoy this for five or ten minutes and move on.”
The puck drops at 7:00 PM CST.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
French, Payne, Thompson, Paliotta (scratch)
Tonight's attendance was 5,166.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Antonio - March 23 2018