McKenna Turns in Masterful 47 Save Shutout to Send Stars to Second Round

(credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
For the first time since the 2014 Calder Cup run, The Texas Stars advanced to the second round of the AHL playoffs on Tuesday night, beating the Ontario Reign 1-0 in regulation and ending the series in four games. Veteran goaltender Mike McKenna reached deep into his tool belt and gave the Stars everything he had with a sensational 47 save performance. That runs his streak to 91 straight saves over two games. His less than stellar game two is now a distant memory.

Denis Gurianov scored the lone goal of the contest, notching his second tally of the playoffs in the third period.

As was the case all night, McKenna was a rock in net for the first two periods with the Reign outshooting the Stars 25-19. Cal Petersen was equally impressive to keep the game at a scoreless tie through forty minutes of play. Both goaltenders broke up a couple of odd-man rushes with timely poke checks and sound positioning.

Remi Elie had a great chance on a breakaway five minutes into the second period, but shot wide. It was a common refrain from the Stars when they had their chances. Both teams created their fair share of offense on the rush but couldn't crack either goaltender.

Reign defenseman Oscar Fantenberg, who recorded five shots on goal in the game, finally drew enough post-whistle ire from the Stars for Curtis McKenzie to react, causing an end of period fracas heading into the second intermission.

There were two instances of 4-on-4 play in the second and third periods, but the extra open ice didn't yield a goal for either team. Around the twelve minute marker in the third period, the Stars finally cashed in on a counter attack with Gurianov's goal. Roope Hintz got the initial shot on the rush with the young Russian cleaning up the rebound to break the scoreless tie. Jason Dickinson, still recovering from an injury suffered earlier in the series, set up the play and notched the secondary assist.

A few shifts later, Sheldon Dries nearly picked up a critical insurance goal, ringing a hard shot of the post. From there, the Stars withstood an onslaught of pucks on net, and McKenna did his best work. Winger Jonny Brodzinski was stymied on two glorious chances late in the game, the second coming during 6-on-5 play when the Reign went with an empty net. After the Reign desperately tried to create several stoppages of play and goaded the Stars into a series of icings, McKenna's back got some needed relief from carrying the team all night as the game ended.

The Stars will have plenty of time to purchase McKenna his drink of choice, or several, as they wait to see the result of the series between the Tucson Roadrunners and San Jose Barracuda, currently tied 1-1.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
O'Brien, Payne, Calderone, Kelleher, Rallo, Hansson, Paliotta (scratch)
Fyten (injury)

Tonight's attendance was 6,222.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Ontario - April 24 2018


  1. It is my understanding that the team with home ice gets to choose the home/away format? So we chose 2-2-1 for the first round rather than 2-3? Do you have any insight on if the second round will probably be 2-3-2 or 2-2-1-1-1?

  2. Looks like we chose 2-3-2 in all of the series' in 2014

    1. Hey blb,
      The format isn't chosen by the teams. It's set based on the distance between them. The rough rule is 300 miles of road distance. Beyond that, it's 2-3 or 2-3-2. Sometimes things get creative when availability changes. This weird 2-2-1 despite the long travel was due to Disney on Ice in both arenas simultaneously this weekend.

      Texas would normally only play 2-2-1 or 2-2-1-1-1 if they played San Antonio.


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