|Photo Credit: Todd Reicher/Chicago Wolves
Rosemont, IL - Matt Jurusik stopped 36-shots and Rhett Gardner scored the game-winner 2:58 into overtime as the Texas Stars closed out their 6-game road trip in thrilling fashion, beating the Central Division-leading Chicago Wolves 2-1 at Allstate Arena on Wednesday night.
The Stars completed their season-long 6-game road trip 3-1-1-1 (8 pts) garnering points in the last 5 games for a season-high 5-game point
Jurusik, starting just his 4th game -- 5th appearance -- between the pipes for the Stars, was outstanding from beginning to end, allowing just a lone Andrew Poturalski goal off midway through the 1st period that gave Chicago the initial lead of the night at 1-0. Portualski, the league-leader in both goals and points, tallied the only blemish on Illinios-native Jurusik's night off of a meaty rebound that didn't get cleared in front of the netminder.
Chicago dominated the offensive-zone time the remainder of the period, only to repeatedly be turned away by Jurusik. The Wolves closed out the opening frame having outshot Texas 11-3
The Stars knotted the game at 1-1 just 2:09 into the 2nd period when Rhett Gardner found Tye Felhaber cutting through the slot who just knocked the puck past Wolves goaltender Jack LaFontaine for his second goal of the season, spoiling the AHL debut of LaFontaine in the process. Texas captain Curtis McKenzie was credited with the secondary assist, adding to his team-leading 13th helper on the season.
While the tying goal certainly provided a spark for the road-team, it did not seem to show on the ice as Chicago continued their dominance of the offensive zone throughout the 2nd, outshooting the Stars 8-4 on the period.
The teams skated scoreless through the remainder of the frame and all of the third period with both Jurusik and LaFontaine time-and-time-again coming away with big stops. Chicago's offense was relentless in peppering Jurusik with 17-shots in the final frame, only to be turned away each time.
The game nearly slipped away for the Stars in the 3rd when they were put on the penalty kill twice in the period, however between the stellar work from the PK units and the on-ice gymnastics of Jurusik, the Wolves came-away empty-handed both times. Chicago ended the night 0-for-3 on the power play, while Texas went 0-2.
The game headed to overtime and after a bit of a feeling out process on the 3-on-3 Ty Dellandrea found Gardner across the slot to in the right circle, and Gardner buried a one-timer past LaFontaine 2:58 into the extra-frame closing out the Stars’ 2-1 win. It was Gardner’s fourth goal of-the-season and his second game-winning goal in the last three games for the Stars.
With the win, Texas improves their record to 11-14-4-2 (28 pts/.452%) but remain in last place in the 7-team AHL Central Division. Chicago's record moves to 24-7-4-1 (53 pts/.736%), to maintain first place in the division.
The Stars return to the ice Friday night for their first home game since January 8th as the Laval Rocket visit the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park for the first time. Puck-drop for Friday night's clash is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Barteaux, Wardley, L'Esperance, Kawaguchi
Tonight's attendance was 2,432