|(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Texas rode their early scoring and a solid return by goalie Landon Bow to a 4-2 victory tonight over Colorado at home. Kicking off a four-game series against the Eagles, the Stars extended their winning streak to five and moved to 8-3 on the season in a game where they may not have played their best by their own admission.
Always striving for excellence, Texas head coach Neil Graham wants even more from his club tomorrow, "Sometimes you're gonna get some bounces and you're gonna win some that you probably weren't at your best. We're going to have to adjust, and we're gonna have to be better tomorrow if we want [the streak to continue."
It was a low shooting affair for both sides, but especially for Texas, who managed a season-low 19 shots in the contest, including a season-low for shots in a period with just three in the second.
"We weren't giving ourselves those looks, so we're going to have to do things cleaner on our exits. We're going to have to be more efficient on our D zone coverage and limit the amount of time we spent defending [because] defending is tiring."
Bow, playing in his first game in 366 days, stopped 25 of 27 shots.
"Since the beginning of the year here, it's just been practices," said Bow, adding that it was helpful to get some practices with Texas this week to ramp up to game speed. "I didn't know how it was gonna correlate to a game, but I've been putting in the work. I felt really good out there after the first couple minutes. I had to just shake a little bit of the rust off my legs."
The club was ready from the drop of the puck tonight and was able to sustain the effort through the full sixty. Josh Melnick opened the scoring just 34 seconds into the game, their quickest goal on the season. It was actually former Texas Stars Sheldon Dries who missed his assignment on Melnick and gave him just enough space to collect the puck and shoot it past Adam Werner. Anthony Louis was the primary distributor while Thomas Harley collected his eighth point of the year on the second assist.
Just three minutes later, Texas struck again. Joseph Cecconi found Tye Felhaber wide open on the backdoor for the 2-0 lead before the Eagles had even managed a shot the other way. The Stars had scored on their first and third shots of the night and everything seemed to indicate they would score at will on the evening. Things tightened up from there though as Colorado outshot Texas 9-2 in the rest of the period and beat Landon Bow with a tip play ten minutes later, making it a 2-1 game for Texas.
The second period was scoreless as Colorado outshot the Stars 10-3 and there was significant 4-on-4 time due to some offsetting penalties.
"We weren't focusing on the shots. We were more focusing on how we were playing. I thought there were moments we found our identity, and then we had a tough time stringing it together for more than maybe two shifts in a row."
Jake Slaker's second of the year was a dagger to start the third. On what was only Texas's ninth shot of the game, Slaker scored far-side on Werner after collecting a mishandled puck at the Colorado line. It was, of course, unassisted.
"I just got off the bench, and I had fresh legs," recalled Slaker. "I saw a loose puck and I knew if I didn't get the puck I was starting the backcheck. So I started getting going, and luckily I poked the puck free and got a good shot on net."
Colorado would pull Werner with 1:53 left but come up empty on the effort. Josh Melnick added an empty netter at 19:59 of the third to salt this one away.
Texas and Colorado face off tomorrow at the same time.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Stranges, Porco, Markison, Baptiste, L. Martin, M. Martin, Jurusik (scratch)
Rosburg, Point (callup)