|(Photo Credit: Michael Owen/100 Degree Hockey)
Cedar Park, TX - Anthony Louis scored his 7th goal in 4 games against Laval Rocket and goalie Anton Khudobin turned away 19-shots but neither was enough as the Texas Stars 6-game point streak came to an end in a 3-2 loss to Laval Saturday night in front of 6,332 fans at the HEB Center at Cedar Park.
After both teams skated thru a listless and scoreless first period, Laval got the scoring started before the crowd had even returned from the intermission with the Rocket on the power play Xavier Ouellet gave them the 1-0 lead 1:11 into the period on a shot in traffic that beat Khudobin. In his frustration the Kazakhstani goal-keep took a roughing penalty, subsequently followed by a cross-check credited against Ryan Shea, immediately putting the Stars back on the kill in 5-on-3 fashion.
To compound matters worse Stars blue-liner took a roughing call less-than a minute later and Jean-Sebastian Dea answered the call for Laval when he deflected a shot past Anton Khudobin to make it 2-0 just 4:25 into the 2nd. Laval ended the night 2-7 on the power play.
With the crowd feeling somewhat uneasy just 54 seconds later Joel L’Esperance caught the good side of the crossbar and into the net, bringing the crowd back into the game while restoring the hope at 2-1. With the goal L’Esperance’s extended his personal point streak to eight games.
Laval, known for their speed as well as their breakaway ability added a tally late in the 2nd when Peter Abbandonato jumped a clearing attempt and flat-out beat Khudobin to his glove-side, giving the Laval a 3-1 lead heading into the 2nd intermission.
The 3rd period was played by both teams at a frenzied pace with Texas maintaining puck-possession for the majority of the frame. Opportunities arose multiple times in the period for the Stars with the home team getting 2 early chances on the power play, only to be turned away by the stout Laval defense or stopped by Rocket goalie Louis-Philip Guindon.
Texas finally converted on their third chance of the period and sixth of the game, when Anthony Louis took a Ben Gleason pass and one-timed it in to cut Laval's lead to 3-2 with 7:09 left in the game. Louis' goal was his 7th power play goal and his 12th total on the season to lead the Stars in both categories.
The Stars finished the night 1-for-5 on the power play and 3-for-8 in the 2-game series against Laval. The power play having been somewhat of a bugaboo for Texas in the early goings of the season is 8-for-their-last-19 on the advantage, lifting them to 6th in the league.
Texas had plenty more opportunities late in the game as they out-shot Laval 12-1in the final frame but still could not solve Guindon. Texas forward Jeremy Gregoire took a questionable hooking call with 2:13 left in the game, pretty much ending all hope for the Stars, despite going empty net with an extra-attacker to close out the remainder of the game and the Rocket held on for the 3-2 victory.
With the loss, Texas's point-streak ends at 6 games and drops their record to 12-15-4-2 (30 pts./.455%) to remain in 7th in the 7-team Central Division, with multiple games-in-hand on every team in the division.
After a hectic schedule over the previous 2-weeks, the Stars will get a day off and a xfew days of practice before they head to Canada to face the division-rival Manitoba Moose on Friday, February 4 at 7:00 p.m. Manitoba is currently in second place in the division and currently has 14-points in their last 10-games.
The Stars return home and hosts the very same Moose on Monday, Feb. 7 and Wednesday, Feb. 9 at the HEB Center for a pair of 7 p.m. puck drops.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Barteaux, Merchant, Kawaguchi, Petrovic (suspension)
Tonight's attendance was 6,332