|(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)|
Coming off a tough loss to a clearly deficient Marlies club, Texas faced the best team in the league in desperate search for points, coming up with a 3-2 OT loss after leading 2-0. If it weren't for the loss to Toronto, it feels the narrative would be much different.
"Two nights ago, it was unacceptable. We didn't play to our potential and we let that one slip," said head coach Neil Graham. "I thought tonight we came out the way we expected. The third period was filled with special teams. They got one and we didn't. And that ended up being the difference."
Instead of having three points with a win against Toronto, Texas only has one, with two more games to go on the week. According to our point projections from earlier this week, Texas still needs three to stay on track in this playoff race.
"We know we can play with the big boys, but we have to do it for 60," added Graham.
Texas led 2-0 halfway through the contest but Milwaukee roared back with help from special teams as Texas took three bad penalties in the final frame to give the Ads life. "A slash, a hold and a flip out of play gives three three power plays in a period. You know that's a lot and you know we had our looks but we didn't generate on our power play much after our first two."
Jason Robertson had the first goal of the night as Texas led the shooting in the early going. Joel Kiviranta swung a pass to Ondrej Vala at the point. The defender's pass found Robertson sneaking out from behind the net to put an east goal past Connor Ingram, who had overcommitted to the shot high in his crease.
Tanner Kero, who was recently a healthy scratch, scored his first since February 7th to open the second. The shot looked harmless and perhaps that's why Ingram didn't expect it to slide through him fivehole. The backhander against the grain made for 30 points for Kero and notched assists for Nick Caamano and Ben Gleason.
Milwaukee wouldn't be counted out of the contest though and found a way to make an impact. Former Minnesota Golden Gopher Rem Pitlick added the 20th goal of his rookie campaign on a pure bullet from the left wing circle. It was in the net before Bow could even react to it.
The power play struck for the Ads, the league's leading team with the extra man, in the third period. Eeli Tolvanen hit a streaking Michael McCarron off the bench to tie the game. Texas had a string of late power play chances but couldn't capitalize against the #5 PK in the league.
"Their penalty kill, they're nice and tight," said Kero. "They don't give you too [many] openings to make plays so you just try to outwork them, outrecover those pucks, try to get the second chances and get them moving as much as possible."
Texas got the point, taking the game to OT, but it was McCarron again getting the GWG. No one wrapped him up on the doorstep as he batted in his own rebound for the 3-2 win.
Milwaukee gets to stay in town and rest up for the rematch with the Stars on Saturday while Texas must head to San Antonio on Friday.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Felhaber, Louis (scratch)
Mascherin (season-ending injury)
Tonight’s attendance was 3,244.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Milwaukee - March 4 2020