|Jake Oettinger (Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars halted the AHL's longest winning streak tonight as they dominated the visiting Admirals en route to a 5-1 win. The second period was the difference as Texas matched a season high with four goals in the period, three of them scored in just 2:20 of game time. Jake Oettinger returned to the net after a five game absence to stop 39 of 40, a career high.
"When Oettinger was called upon, he was outstanding," said head coach Derek Laxdal. "That was probably the difference in the game: the goaltending."
Since coming out before the homestand, Oettinger has been working with goalie coach Jim Bedard to get ready for his eventual return. "Credit to Jimmy for working with me the last couple weeks since I haven't played," said Oettinger. "I'm just staying positive. It feels really good to be a part of it and help the team get a big win."
Highly-touted prospects were the impact players tonight all over the lineup between Oettinger's great goaltending and goals from Jason Robertson, Rhett Gardner, Joel L'Esperance and Adam Mascherin. It was an especially heartening performance for Mascherin, who scored yet again after being a healthy scratch to start the home stand. "With the lineup, we're getting results," said Laxdal. "And we need results right now."
After a snoozefest of a first period, the second period lit things up for the Stars. Milwaukee would score first on the power play. Who else but Yakov Trenin would take advantage of the chance, roofing a rebound in tight.
Jason Robertson would step up to tie things. Floating a puck toward the net, he got a good bounce off the boot of an Ads defender, who was tied up with Nick Caamano. The puck went five hole, and it was tied at 1. Eighty-eight seconds later, Rhett Gardner would finish strong on a bang-bang play at the net off the pass from Caamano, and suddenly it was 2-1.
Oettinger could feel the difference in the team's confidence. "I think if you watch us now compared to that streak, we look like an entirely different team. We'e playing so well defensively and that leads to so much offense for us."
Under a minute later, Joel L'Esperance and Tye Felhaber broke in 2-on-1. L'Esperance took it himself, finishing the play to the far side, 3-1. Adam Mascherin would close the period's scoring as L'Esperance drew double coverage, leaving Robertson open to pass to Mascherin for the 4-1 tally. It was four goals on four consecutive shots for the Stars and every single shot of the period.
The third period was quiet comparatively. Michael Mersch scored a goal from his knees off the dish from Joel Kiviranta to set the final score at 5-1. Troy Grosenick ended the night with an abysmal and atypical five against on just 20 shots, including five straight.
Texas finishes its home stand 4-0-1 and with nine of a possible ten points.
"Hopefully we can bottle this up and take it on the road," finished Laxdal. "It's good for our dressing room. A good bunch of guys are working hard, and that's going to get some results."
The Stars hit the road for a pair in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, their first ever matchup against the Penguins.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Gleason, Nyberg, MacKay, McClure (scratch)
Tonight’s attendance was 3,461.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Milwaukee - December 3 2019