Oettinger Turns in 45 Saves in Stars 4-1 Win Over Admirals

The Texas Stars collected a big two points over the league-leading Milwaukee Admirals, in a 4-1 final decision. The victory gives Texas four points on the weekend over two current playoff teams in the Central division.

Goaltender Jake Oettinger made his second consecutive start in net during the back-to-back and responded with an absolute gem of a game, finishing with 45 saves on 46 shots. Head coach Neil Graham spoke about his showing during postgame scrum.

“[Oettinger] was good,” he said. “[He] made a lot of good saves. And you need your goals to step up this time of year, and that's what he did.”

(credit: Texas Stars)

Oettinger, to his credit, gave the accolades to his teammates in front of him. “The guys in front of me did an unreal job,” he said. “And I had a couple times where I think I put myself in kind of a tough spot and they bailed me out, which they always do.”

The young netminder also received a huge assist from his teammates in the scoring department. The offense got going early as the Stars came out in the first period creating several grade A scoring chances from crashing the net.

“We wanted to get on our toes early and I felt we accomplished it,” said Graham. “[Milwaukee has] a lot of talent over there. We wanted to play aggressive so it's a fine line, and I thought they accomplished it overall.”

Jason Robertson scored his 25th goal of the season on a power play halfway through the opening period on a setup from Tanner Kero. Robertson had a wide open net from the right circle as Kero’s bullet pass from across the ice found its target. The Stars finished the game 2-for-3 on the power play as Josh Melnick would score late in the second period.

Milwaukee winger Cole Schneider roofed home a loose puck from in front of the net when the Stars failed to clear the slot five minutes after Robertson’s goal. It was the real lone gaffe by the defense as they went on to keep shots to the outside for most of the duration. “I think our coaches have been harping on trying to box out around our net, and that's where all the goals are scored this time of year,” said Oettinger. “I think the guys have been doing that.”

Stars defenseman Reece Scarlett restored the lead with a deft dangle in front of the net as he finished with a backhander nearly six and half minutes into the middle frame. Melnick’s power play goal came with seven seconds left of the period to push the lead to two.

Perhaps the most notable stat of the contest was the 6-for-6 the Stars went on the penalty kill against the league’s top power play unit. While Graham would like to see more discipline in avoiding stick fouls, he said he’ll take the effort on the kill. “We're going to continue to address [the discipline] and are going to harp on that because, we can't rely on the PK to that extent every night, but to go six for six was big.”

The Admirals emptied their net with 2:30 left in regulation, and Joel L’Esperance obliged with an empty net goal to seal the deal on a setup from Joel Kiviranta.

Our calculations at 100 Degree Hockey suggest that the Stars needed at least three points in the standings this weekend, and they went out and collected four. Much of that is owed to Oettinger, who seems like he has all but clamped down on the starting role for now.

“For us to still be in the fight--I know no matter what happens this team is never going to give up, so we're gonna get to play hard to our last game,” Oettinger noted. “And you know, I think if we play like we did tonight, we'll give ourselves a chance to make playoffs.”

The Stars have another huge test on Tuesday and Wednesday as they travel to take on the Colorado Eagles.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Felhaber, MacKay (scratch)
Mascherin, Louis (injury)

Tonight’s attendance was 6,778.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Toronto - March 2 2020