|(Credit: Michael Owen/100 Degree Hockey)|
The Texas Stars defeated the Iowa Wild 3-1, avenging their opening night loss from less than 24 hours before. Goalie Jake Oettinger stopped 43 Iowa shots while forward Riley Damiani scored two goals to lead the Stars in their maiden victory of '21-'22 before 3,975 joyful fans Sunday night at H-E-B Center at Cedar Park.
Texas Stars center Nick Caamano got the Stars on the board first at 7:09 off a deflection from a Ryan Shea shot. Shea, initially credited with the goal, was given the helper off a deft cross-ice pass from Jordan Kawaguchi, and the Stars never looked back.
2021 AHL Rookie of the Year Damiani, scoring the first of two power play goals on the night, opened the second period scoring at 7:37 with assists coming from Stars captain Curtis McKenzie and Kawaguchi, picking up his second.
Iowa got on the board a mere :37 seconds later on a Marco Rossi wrap-around to make things interesting. However, this turned out to be the Wild's only threat of significance, despite the flurry of vulcanized rubber flung at the Stars netminder.
Damiani closed out the scoring on a 5-on-3 power play with assists from Thomas Harley and returning veteran Joel L'Esperance at 6:50 of the third.
"Tonight you see a couple of bounces kinda go our way," said Damiani. "It's a little bit of puck luck, and sometimes you need that to win the game."
A night after struggling while going 0-for-7 on the power play, Texas improved to 2-for-3 Sunday with both goals coming from Damiani, while the penalty kill remained perfect for the season (8 opportunities) in holding Iowa to 0-for-6 on the job.
"It was a much more complete game from our group," Head Coach Neil Graham said after the game. "I thought our start was good; we did a much better job putting pucks in areas that we wanted. I was happy for the group because obviously [it] didn't go the way we wanted it to yesterday."
The real story of the game however was Oettinger. A night after stopping 32 of 33 shots, the Stars goaltender was near perfect for the second straight night stopping 43 of the 44 he faced. For the weekend, the Minnesota native stopped 75 of 77 shots.
In less than 24 hours.
"It feels good. I mean I'm here to play, I want to play everyday," Oettinger said when asked how he felt after such a laborious weekend. "I'd rather be in the net than on the bench so every time I get to play, I'm super-excited no matter the circumstances."
The Stars now get a well-deserved night out and a day off tomorrow before returning to practice on Tuesday. The Stars next take the ice on Saturday at Tucson for a 9 p.m. local start.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Barteaux, Gleason, Gregoire, Felhaber, Martin, Felhaber, Scheel, Aksiantsiuk (scratch)
Tonight's attendance was 3,975.