Texas Falls to Heat in OT, Losing Ground in Playoff Race to Stockton

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Stars had a chance for a four-point game against fifth place Stockton tonight, and it was the Heat who made the most of the sitatuion. The visitors claimed two points via an overtime win. Texas earned a point but missed on a chance to put a stranglehold on the fourth spot in their last game with their closest competitor for the final berth.

"For me, we have to play a certain way," said Coach Derek Laxdal. "It's connecting shifts, passes and energy. We had a lot of loose connections tonight. It wasn't an energized game. I think we got what we deserved tonight. Stockton probably deserved the two points. We were sleepy, and it wasn't our best."

In his first game back from Dallas, Jason Dickinson had a pair of goals including a shorthanded marker to put Texas up 2-1 late in the second. The Stars capitulated quickly on their second and third goals, allowing Stockton to tie it back up within 90 seconds each time.

"We were a little too loose," said Dickinson. "We gave up to many opportunities. There were small areas where we were too sloppy, and we got lucky with Bow making huge saves and our D stepping up for us. We can't let that happen every night."

Stockton's Colin Smith bookended the scoring in the game with a deflection goal on each side of the ledger. His opening tally was the only goal in the first half of the game. Texas quickly roared back in just a minute of game time late in the second. Denis Gurianov sniped one past David Rittich from the top of the right-wing circle then Dickinson scored his shorty unassisted for the 2-1 lead.

Former Texas Star Mike McMurtry rifled one home on the power play with less than a minute left in the period for the 2-2 tie after forty. Dickinson would strike again halfway through the third one another slick move only to be matched by Hunter Shinkaruk on the power play.

"We've got to take advantage of those[power plays]. That's where they scored two goals, and our special teams didn't match it and look where we ended up."

The Stars made it to overtime thanks to the efforts of Landon Bow, who stopped 25 of 29 on the final tally but had a high degree of difficulty on many of those shots. His only shot against in overtime came 14 seconds in and bested him for the Heat victory.

Laxdal summed up the game well, "What you take out of this game is that it wasn't good enough for playoff hockey."

The Stars' path gets no easier from here as they face Rockford, winner of 8 of their last 10, twice this weekend. Texas's magic number drops to 8 after tonight with five games left in the season.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Hintz (upper body, day to day)
Rallo, Thompson, O'Brien, Mangene, Payne, Paliotta (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 3,810.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Stockton - April 4 2018