|(Credit: Andy Nietupski, Texas Stars)|
The Texas Stars couldn't overcome an uncharacteristically slow start, falling to the Grand Rapids Griffins in overtime, 5-4.
In the first matchup between the two teams this season, the Stars quickly fell behind 3-1 at H-E-B Center on Friday night.
"I didn't like our start," head coach Neil Graham said. "I didn't think we were ready in the way we needed to be."
Goalie Colton Point struggled in his third start of the season, stopping 7 out of 10 shots. The last Grand Rapids goal in the first period is one the goaltender would like to have back. With jostling in front of the net, Point couldn't find the puck as the Griffins' Brian Lashoff floated one in from the just in front of blue line.
Graham inserted goaltender Adam Scheel, who played his first minutes of the season on Friday, to start the second period. But he wouldn't see much action early, as Texas turned around its poor play in the first to dominate the second period.
The Stars outshot the Griffins 10-2 in the first 11 minute of the second period.
Ty Dellandrea shot the eighth goal of the period at the 7:24 mark to bring the score to 3-2, bouncing the puck off of the skate of a Grand Rapids defender for his second goal of the season.
Then, it was Thomas Harley's time to shine. Thirteen seconds into a Stars power play, the defenseman had the puck at the blue line, freezing the defense with a shot fake before dishing a perfectly placed pass to Joel L'Esperance, who tapped in what might have been his easiest opportunity of the season.
L'Esperance scored both power play goals for the Stars, who converted on twice on five power plays on Friday after going just 7-55 previously in the season.
"I think we're just going back to the basics," L'Esperance said. "We were struggling a little bit. Now, we're just working on getting pucks to the net and then things open up after that."
Grand Rapids, on the other hand, struggled once against on their penalty kill after heading into Friday's matchup sitting near the bottom of the AHL at 75.6%.
On the next goal, just a minute later, Harley broke off for a 2-on-1 with Texas's Jeremy Gregoire before placing a beautiful wraparound pass for Gregoire with only the goaltender left to beat. It was Harley's second assist of the night to set up a teammate with a quality chance.
The Stars battled back to tie the game at 4-all in the second period. They almost converted a third power play in the only penalty of the third period.
But a back-and-forth game slowed down in the third period. Both Scheel and Griffins goaltender Calvin Pickard handled all nine of the shots in the period with ease, sending the game to overtime and giving the Stars a point on a night where they fell behind 3-1.
Texas went into overtime for the third game in a row after ending each of its first 10 games in regulation.
But this time around, the game wouldn't go to a shootout like the past two against Colorado last weekend did. Just one minute and thirty seconds into 3-on-3 play, Turner Elson tapped a shot to give the Griffins the win.
"We had a little breakdown in overtime and lost our coverage for a second," Graham said. "They made a good play and shot -- it could have gone either way at that point."
The Stars have started hot for most of the season, with a +6 margin (14-8) heading into Friday night's game against the Griffins. But that wasn't the case Friday, and despite a strong last 40 minutes, Texas couldn't battle back enough to take down Grand Rapids in their first matchup.
The team will have another shot tomorrow, though, as the Stars wrap up a four-game homestand with a rematch against the Griffins at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Barteaux, Comeau, Felhaber, Melnick
Martin (arm laceration)
Tonight's attendance was 4,510.
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