|(Credit: Ross Bonander/Texas Stars)
The power play was the bugaboo for Texas tonight. They walked away 0-for-7 on the man advantage, including three 5-on-3s. Not scoring on those chances truly drained the team and took energy out of the 5,841 fans in the building in a palpable way.
"That was obviously an area we need to work out," said Texas Stars head coach Neil Graham. "It changed the complexion of the game. [The first one] goes in, and it might change the complexion of the game. We allowed frustrations to kind of seep in, and it looks like our timing was off."
Texas was last shutout April 10, 2021 in Colorado, a 3-0 final. The Stars had the momentum for a lot of game with those power plays, and Oettinger's game should have translated to at least one point.
Iowa and Texas fought through a scoreless first period. The first three shifts were rather unremarkable for Texas but the fourth line was the first to punch into the offensive zone for Texas. The trio of Oskar Back, Frederik Karlstrom and Jeremy Gregoire provided some early energy.
Graham agreed, "I thought that line was really good in terms of energy and physicality, and I thought they managed the puck, probably the best [of all lines] in the first 40." He also noted that Oskar Back's faceoff presence was a strong contribution to that line's work on the night.
The Stars got the first chance on the power play and managed to turn that into a 5-on-3 with dual cross-checking calls. Yet again, it was unremarkable, then again it was the first time that the Stars iced their power play all year. Without the benefit of preseason games, this was the first time for everything this season.
"Our coaches did a good job of putting us in a better position than we showed," said newly-minted captain Curtis McKenzie. "I did feel from playing that there's some little things where, you know, mid season you wouldn't see. Just little baubles or mental mistakes that you probably won't see with this team in a few weeks."
Kyle Rau notched the first goal for the Wild in the second period. On a shot that Jake Oettinger seemed to have against his chest, he suddenly didn't as it trickled out, and Rau put back the rebound. Texas immediately got a chance for redemption with another extended 5-on-3. This one was better but still not rewarding on the scoreboard.
Oettinger came out of the net with 1:44 left and a Texas power play enqueue. That final 5-on-3 had some of the best chances of the night but again was fruitless.
"You'd like to get on the ice but you don't have that so it's going to be a video," noted McKenzie, asked of how to fix up the power play before tomorrow. "[Assistant coach Travis Morin] will be breaking it down for us. You know he was one of the best in the league of all time probably to pick apart a power play."
The Stars get a quick chance for redemption with that video work in tow against these same Wild tomorrow afternoon at 5 PM.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Shea, Barteaux, Martin, Felhaber, Scheel, Melnick, Aksiantsiuk (scratch)
Tonight's attendance was 5,841.