|(Photo credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)|
CEDAR PARK, TX – The Texas Stars got power play goals from Curtis McKenzie and Riley Tufte but the penalty kill unit gave up 3 of their own as Texas lost 4-2 to the Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators AHL-Affiliate) in front of 4,818 faithful at the HEB Center at Cedar Park Friday night.
For the fourth time in as many games, Texas struck first, while on the game’s first power play, Curtis McKenzie got a tip-in off of a Ben Gleason shot that skipped over Admirals goaltender Connor Ingram's glove shoulder 6:28 into the game giving Texas the initial lead at 1-0. McKenzie's goal, his 12th on the season, extended the captain's season-high goal-streak to 3 games while Gleason picked up his 10th power play assist to lead the team in that category.
Joel L'Esperance, added the secondary assist to extend his point-streak to a league-high of 11 games amongst active AHL players.
The celebration was short lived as the Admirals tied the score just 3:39 later when on their first power play chance, Cody Glass slipped a backhander past Texas goalie Adam Scheel to tie the game at 1 apiece. Milwaukee didn't waste any time as The Admirals took the lead just 3:13 later on the power play, when a Cole Smith a one-timer beat Scheel to his glove-side, giving Milwaukee a 2-1 advantage that they took to the 1st intermission.
Texas got another chance on the power play early in the second and the Stars knotted the game back up just 3 minutes into the period when Riley Tufte found a rebound at the edge of the crease, cleaned up the garbage and slipped the puck past Ingram, bringing the crowd back into the game. Tufte's goal, his 9th of the year, was his first since his 2-goal output against Rockford January 21st. Texas ended the night 2-for-4 on the power play.
The remainder of the frame went scoreless but was not without plenty of action as the 2 teams combined for 9 penalties covering eighteen minutes of penalty time.
In the third period with the teams still deadlocked at 2 and Stars PK unit on the ice once again, Glass lit the lamp for a second time adding another power play goal for the Admirals 6:15 into the third period giving Milwaukee a 3-2 lead, completing a 3-for-5 night on the power play.
"We made some some poor judgment on a couple penalties and then unfortunately our penalty kill didn't bail us out on those penalties." Texas Head Coach Neil Graham said after the game
Former Stars captain Cole Schneider scored an empty net goal in the final minute in his return to Cedar Park to close out the scoring on the night at 4-2.
Scheel, starting on short notice, finished the night with 28 saves, saw his record drop to 3-4-5 in his spot duty.
"He's played very good his 3 prior starts, you know he had a quick audible here, he went in the net for us today." Graham said of his netminder. "He's played very consistent hockey for himself the last 4 games so you know we'll have to go back and look at it," Graham continued. "I thought Scheely (Scheel) was as steady as he has been of late."
With the loss, Texas has still picked-up points in 9-of-their-last-11 but sees their record drop to 13-16-5-3 (34 pts./.459%) to remain in seventh in the 7-team AHL Central Division.
Milwaukee, playing some of their best hockey of the season, improves to 22-19-2-2 (48 pts./.533%) but remains in 4th in the Central.
The Stars and the Admirals have a quick turn-around and meet again Saturday at 7:00 p.m. at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park. Saturday's game will be the Stars fifth game in 7 days, as they continue a brutal stretch of thirteen games in twenty-one days.
"No excuses on that side of it," Graham said later. "The schedule is schedule and you play the game in front of you."
Gardner-Melnick-Caamano (starting line)
Injuries, scratches and notes
Barteaux, Merchant, Gregoire, Lipanov, Khudobin, Comeau
Tonight's attendance was 4,818