|(Credit: Michael Owen/100 Degree Hockey)|
Stars goalie Colton Point picked up his first win of the season, getting the start on short notice with Jake Oettinger having been called up early Saturday morning. Point, the Dallas Stars sixth round pick in 2016, turned away 16 of 19 shots in an adequate, if not solid start, despite the spot duty.
Fredrik Karlstrom kicked off the scoring early netting the first goal of the night 2:16 into the opening frame going top shelf on a Oskar Back feed catching Eagle goalie Justus Annunen out of position beating him to the blocker side.
The ink had hardly dried on the scoresheet before the Eagles Callahan Burke sucked the life out of the 5,467 in attendance, putting one past Point just 1:45 later to knot the game at 1-1.
After trading unsuccessful chances on the power play the teams settled in for some up and down, 200-foot hockey, continuing the physical pace set in the previous games when the teams combined for 157 penalty minutes between the two teams in the prior three contests.
With 6:49 left in the opening period McKenzie scored his fourth goal on the season, driving one home off cross-ice feeds from Ty Dellandrea, returning from a three-game absence, and Alex Petrovic, his first helper of the season, giving Texas a lead they would take into the intermission. The period however did not end before Back left the ice due to a leaky face, thanks to a Jacob MacDonald high-stick double-minor. The infraction ended a power play opportunity for Colorado, while also allowing for the Stars to start the second period on the advantage for a full 3:34 after the 4-on-4 time expired.
The Stars wasted no time extending their lead to 3-1 when McKenzie buried his second goal of the night, his team-leading fifth on the season, just :51 seconds into the frame, re-directing a Riley Damiani shot from the right circle, beating Annunen after asserting himself in front of the net.
"He's a leader in the dressing room, he's a leader in his practice habits and he's a leader during the game," head coach Neil Graham said of his veteran leader McKenzie after the game. "So when you have one of your best players, between the details and the intangibles, it adds up."
The remainder of the second went rather unremarkably, with each team adding two minutes of power play time to their 54 PIM total on the night. The Stars dominated the majority of offensive zone time until noted Stars killer Dylan Sikura scored late in the period, catching Point seemingly off guard on just the third of as many Eagle second period shots, with just 4:37 left in the period. Texas out-shot the Eagles 11-3 in the frame in the process of out-shooting Colorado 39-19 on the night.
The third period started rather inauspiciously when Eagle defenseman Dennis Gilbert scored just :18 seconds in, tying the game at 3-3 and leaving many to wonder if the Stars recent third period woes against the Eagles would return. Texas led in all three prior meetings with the club.
Texas finished the third relatively unscathed, but they also failed to score, getting shutout on two power play opportunities in the process, part of a 1-for-7 night on the job. The team's special unit is now a meager 10-for-54 (13%) along with two shorthanded goals allowed and continues to be to the Stars detriment, as evidenced by their last-place standing in the category in the conference.
"It still would have been great to probably get one more either in the second or the third when we had the opportunity to maybe separate the lead a little bit," Graham said. "But again, it's a step in the right direction, we have time this week to work on that and they'll get better at some of those areas as well, but it was much better."
Conversely, the penalty kill unit, fourth in the conference, has been solid, despite the 1-for-4 effort Saturday. The unit's strength proved beneficial as they began the OT on the job, successfully killing it and spending the next three minutes with no advancement by either side in 4-on-4 action before ticking off the final unnoteworthy 3-on-3 seconds.
Anthony Louis kicked-off the shootout putting one past Annunen on a back-hand to the blocker side with the only goal needed to claim victory. Point turned away the three shots he faced in the shootout and the rest, as they say, is history.
"I think just coming out strong and sticking to the game-plan has paid off and we just gotta keep that going for 60 minutes," an optimistic Louis stated later.
With the win, Texas improves to 5-6-0-1. The team takes a much needed day off on Sunday before resuming practice Monday in preparation for the incoming Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Melnick, Felhaber, Barteaux
Peterson, Tufte (callup)
Tonight’s attendance was 5,467