|(Credit: Taylor Sammarco/Texas Stars)|
Texas scored three but never led in tonight's contest, a 5-3 loss to the visiting Manitoba Moose. It was a step forward from last night's shutout but still not enough for the W. The Stars are 0-2 for the first time in team history.
"I thought we were a better team tonight than last night," said head coach Derek Laxdal. "Some of our guys took progressive steps. We still have a lot of areas to work in. We're a young group, and there are going to be mistakes."
He continued, "Not finishing hits, angling. If we didn't take a step today, I'd be very concerned."
Conner Bleackley, just added on a PTO before the game, had a pair of goals after playing last night in Salt Lake City for the Steelheads. "You try to do your best to prepare. When you're on a bus for six hours and then a plane, you just have to get your legs going."
Texas got off to an inauspicious start in the game, allowing a goal on the first shot of the contest. Perhaps it's just a family thing, as Dallas has done the same in their first two games of the season. Regardless, Jansen Harkins's first of the season put Texas down 1-0 before many had found their seats.
Mikhail Berdin was wholly responsible for the next goal. The Moose goalie came out to play a puck at his own left-wing faceoff dot. A hard-forechecking Conner Bleackley picked his pocket and dumped it into the empty net from a severe angle.
Jake Oettinger stepped up though as Manitoba danced by Emil Djuse and the rookie goalie had to make a succession of in-tight saves, finally getting bailed out by a block from Gavin Bayreuther that went into the netting.
The Moose picked up two more in four minutes of game time spanning the first intermission break. Logan Shaw's tip floated by Oettinger with less than a minute left in the first, and Logan Stanley one-timed a faceoff win for the 3-1 lead to start the second. Laxdal noted that it would have been very easy for his young group to fold at that point and stop competing. They did not, and he commended them for it.
Rookie Jason Robertson slammed home his first professional goal late in the second on a scramble. The goal was initially reviewed as the net came off in the sequence, but the replay showed it was long after the puck crossed the line. The goal was a simple tap-in as the puck had trickled past Berdin and was sitting in the crease ready to be knocked in.
Conner Bleackly got a second goal off a fantastic pass from below the goal line by Adam Mascherin, a one-timer to the top corner. A few minutes later Riley Tufte almost took the lead on an individual effort that tied on the goal line. Parker MacKay wouldn't have gotten credit for an assist on the play but he was directing traffic in the defensive zone for his teammates and generated the play.
On a scramble with two minutes left in the third, Skyler MacKenzie put the game away. Texas would pull Oettinger to no avail and give up an empty netter to salt it away.
The Stars are in action next Friday in Iowa.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Nyberg, Cuglietta (scratch)
Gardner, Caamano, Hanley, L'Esperance (callup)
Tonight’s attendance was 5,301.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Manitoba - October 5 2019