|(Credit: Kavin Mistry / San Jose Barracuda)|
The Texas Stars gave up a season-high seven goals while goalie Jake Oettinger struggled for the second straight night as the San Jose Barracuda beat the Stars 7-5 in front of 1,258 in attendance at San Jose's SAP Center.
The Barracuda took the initial lead of the game for the second straight night as winger Jake McGrew got things started early with a goal just 1:43 into the game, beating Oettinger on a tip-in off a shot from the right point by Krystof Hrabik to to the goalie's glove side. Hrabik, initially credited with the goal got an assist on the play, created the scoring opportunity after a sloppy Stars turnover in their own zone, one of many on the night.
The announcements hadn't even been made before Oskar Back picked up his second goal in as many nights, his first of two on the night, going top shelf off of a tape to tape feed from Frederik Karlstrom to Nick Caamano a mere 2:43 later to tie the score at 1-1. With the two goals Sunday, the 6'3 Swede now has four on the young season.
As the P.A. announcer was still trying to play catch-up, Barracuda winger Dillon Hamaliuk scored his first career AHL 1:09 later to quickly put San Jose back in the lead at 2-1. Things only got worse for the Stars when their captain Curtis McKenzie got called for tripping a half minute later, putting the 'Cuda on the power play for the first of eight chances on the night.
Having successfully killed the penalty Texas immediately went on the attack with Joel L'Esperance scoring his fourth goal on the season at 8:42 with assists coming from Anthony Louis and Jacob Peterson. The Stars continued the pressure when McKenzie scored on the power play 2:08 later to give Texas their first lead of the night at 3-2 with the assists credited to L'Esperance and Ryan Shea. Shea leads the team in assists on the season with six.
Continuing with the first period trend, San Jose gained another chance on the power play less than a minute later when a questionable roughing call went against Tye Felhaber. Felhaber having got tangled up with Joachim Blichfeld appeared to have Blichfeld in a light headlock, not uncommonly seen at any level, was sent to the penalty box for for the infraction, leading to Sasha Chmelevski's first goal on the season, knotting the game at 3-3. Chmelevski's goal capped a fast paced, end-to-end first period that saw six goals on 28 shots between the two teams combined.
The pace of the game slowed considerably in the second period as Riley Tufte scored the only goal of the period 5:44 into the frame on a 3-on-2 breakaway with feeds coming from Louis and Jerad Rosburg. Tufte's team-leading 5th goal, created the chance with a nice head-fake to his back-hand, completely catching San Jose goalie Zachary Emond out of position with the deke.
The second period concluded with no real flow on either side, despite the Barracuda going on the power play three times, coming up empty each time while being held to only one shot over the course of the three opportunities. The Stars ended the period with a 4-3 lead having been outshot by San Jose 7-5 and their special teams coming on to kill another penalty.
The Stars wasted no time in the third period putting themselves at a bigger disadvantage when Andreas Borgman was called for cross-checking, putting the Barracuda on a 5-on-3 power play. Texas' lead evaporated quickly, less than a minute later as persistent thorn Blichfeld beat Oettinger to his glove side at 1:16 of the 3rd period, leveling the game at four. Blichfeld, the first star of the game, finished the night with one goal and two assists on seven shots, with all three points coming on the power play.
Texas killed off the second half of the 5-on-3 only to see McGrew pick up his second goal of the night, this one unassisted, off a bad clearing attempt four minutes later, giving San Jose a brief lead before Back scored his second goal of the night (fourth on the season) to tie the game at 5-5 with helpers coming from Shea and Josh Melnick.
The game remained tied for a good portion of the third period with quality play at both ends and Oettinger seemingly getting into a groove only to see the whistles come out again late, spoiling any chance of the offense getting any rhythm going. The Barracuda finished the night with eight chances on the power play compared to the Stars' three, with Texas' third coming with only :24 seconds remaining in the game.
With 3:21 left, L'Esperance had an otherwise solid game spoiled when the center was called for hooking. L'Esperance legitimately contested the call, arguing that Barracuda center Blichfeld held his stick, but nonetheless, the Stars were put back on the penalty kill for the eighth time on the night, resulting in a Joel Kellman game-winning goal with 2:14 left. San Jose added an Evan Weinger empty-net goal to close out the scoring for a 7-5 final.
Oettinger clearly struggled all night, if not all weekend, giving up nine goals on 46 shots for a meager .814% save-percentage over the course of the twin-bill, splitting the two games on the West Coast. The Minnesota native heads back to Cedar Park sporting a 4-5-0 record on the season.
The Stars finish the road trip 1-3, bringing their record to 4-6-0 on the season, good for fifth place and eight points in the seven-team Central Division, four points behind the Chicago Wolves. Texas returns to the ice on Friday, opening a four-game homestand against the Colorado Eagles, who swept two games from the Stars in Loveland earlier this past week.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Barteaux, Dellandrea, Kawaguchi, Gregoire (scratch)
Tonight’s attendance was 1,258.