Top Line Surges, but Texas Falls to Chicago Wolves 4-3

The Texas Stars fell to the Chicago Wolves 4-3 on Friday evening, giving former Stars captain Curtis McKenzie his first win against his former club. Roope Hintz was slotted in between Denis Gurianov and Michael Mersch, the spot recently vacated by Justin Dowling, and feasted with his linemates as Mersch and Dowling tallied two points each, while Hintz finished with a goal and two helpers.

“I thought Mersch, Gurianov, and Hintz were outstanding tonight,” said head coach Derek Laxdal after the game. “What a line; just big, heavy, fast and I thought they dominated the game from start to finish.”
McKenzie looks different in burgundy and gold.
(credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Gurianov’s goal gave him his sixth straight in as many games, tying a franchise record that was set by Devin Shore in 2015-16. Laxdal was complimentary of his standout forward. “[Gurianov] is growing. His speed, his puck-handling; he’s got an NHL shot. He’s benefitting from some good players but he’s working hard and maturing in his game. We like the growth that he’s brought so far.

The top line provided early returns in the game on Hintz’s goal coming just over five minutes in on a feed from Mersch. Team leader Travis Morin was excited about the potential of the line after Friday’s game. “You’ve got two guys [in Hintz and Gurianov] that can absolutely fly out there. They put the defense on their heels a lot. And then Mersch--you get him down low and you can’t get a puck away from him.”

Five minutes later, the Wolves answered, coming hard on the forecheck and forcing the Stars cough up the puck. Defenseman Griffin Reinhart was true from the top of the left circle to tie the game, beating Bow blocker side.

Bow’s glove hand was a sore spot for the second year netminder for the next three goals against. Red hot forward Brooks Macek went high glove on him with just under four minutes to go in the frame, giving Macek his eleventh point of the young season to maintain his team lead in scoring. “We made a couple mental mistakes and they capitalized on them,” said Laxdal. “Macek got a puck in the slot; I know him from junior, and he can score.”

The Stars had a chance to tie on the power play before the end of the period. Travis Morin set Joel L’Esperance up nicely in the slot for a one timer, but Wolves goaltender Oscar Dansk got just enough of it to send the Stars into the locker room down by one.

Gurianov opened the second period with his record-tying goal, ripping one over Dansk’s left shoulder with only eleven ticks off the clock. The top line continued to feast as halfway through the game, Mersch cleaned up a loose puck that Gurianov put on the net to give both players their second point.

Brandon Pirri took the buzz out of the crowd less than three minutes later, working again on Bow’s glove with his screaming wrist shot to knot things up once again. “We made a couple D zone entry errors. We dove in on one and they stung us. Pirri’s a good player.” Bow finished with 27 saves on 31 shots.

Serendipitously, the Wolves took the lead again right before the end of the period. Nick Caamano was called for interference when he was battling for a loose puck, giving the Wolves their second power play of the game. Winger Daniel Carr showed off some filthy handles while streaking on the rush, freezing Bow with a toe drag and potting a quick wrister. Carr and Pirri both finished the game with a goal and helper.

“I thought the whole game there was kind of ebbs and flows in the game. We scored early, they tied it up. And we got the lead in the second and they came back and pushed and got the lead.”

The goal would be the difference in the game, giving Chicago the edge in the special teams department. They finished one for four on the man advantage, while Texas was blanked during their four chances. The Stars did pepper Dansk with fourteen shots to make an impressive push in the final frame, but he held his ground. Morin could find no fault with the effort.

“I feel like we dominated the third period,” he said. “I had a lot of great chances, just couldn’t get it in. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”

The leaders of the team were composed and exhibited a calm perspective after a hard-fought loss. They have little time to stew but quite a bit to build on with the San Jose Barracuda coming to town tomorrow. “We’ve gotta come out and play the same way we finished there,” said Morin. “It’s as simple as that.”

The puck drops at 7:00 PM.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Bayreuther, Laberge, Payne (scratch)

Tonight’s attendance was 4,339.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Chicago - October 26 2018