|(Credit: Taylor Sammarco/Texas Stars)|
“Today could have gone either way,” said Texas captain Justin Dowling. “We had our chances to put the puck in the net and take some leads.”
The power play had great chances, including a post from Ben Gleason in the first, but couldn’t convert on four chances. Coach Laxdal added, “The goaltender was better than our power play. We had good looks on both units.”
Dowling noted that it’s getting repetitive at this point to be so close as to be a coin flip in so many games. Asked how to break the cycle, he was a little serious and a little bit lighthearted, “Might start in practice. Could be anything. It’s preparation. Maybe you’ve gotta eat something different pregame. I remember a story of Olli Jokinen. He didn’t score for a certain number of games, and [Wayne Gretzky] told him to eat a Big Mac before the game. Maybe we’ve all got to go eat Big Macs.”
Tucson opened the scoring with a deflection goal early in the first. Tyler Steenburgen put one past Desrosiers off the shot from captain Dakota Mermis. Texas’s opening tally came off the rush of Denis Gurianov. The speedster broke past three Tucson defenders and into the corner. He dished to an open Justin Dowling in the slot. The Stars captain made no mistake on the play, burying his 10th of the year for the tie score.
“We’ve got a little bit of everything,” Dowling said of his line. “We’ve got a good strong guy down low and one of the fastest guys in the league. We’ve got good chemistry because you’ve got all the pieces.”
Ben Gleason had Texas’s best chance in the rest of the period. On the power play, the defenseman rang the right post hard sneaking down from the point. The score would stay tied after one, however.
Tucson and the Stars started getting a bit spicy in the second period, trading penalty calls amounting to ten minutes in the box overall. None of the penalties amounted to any scoring, but the score was not tied at the end of the frame. David Ullstrom scored on a cross-crease pass from Michael Bunting with less than a minute to go as a Tucson power play ended.
“We lost a little bit of coverage with a defenseman coming out of the box as a forward,” noted Laxdal.
As Texas pushed, Tucson took advantage. David Ullstrom scored his second of the night to make it 3-1 before Jordan Gross made it 4-1 on the power play late.
Philippe Desrosiers stopped 22 of 26 on the night. Adin Hill was the first star of the game, closing the door repeatedly on the Texas power play and saving 32 of 33.
Texas hits the road for a few games, beginning Tuesday in Iowa.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Markison (lower body)
Laberge (upper body)
Hanna, Naas (scratch)
Tonight’s attendance was 6,320.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Tucson - February 16 2019