|(Photo Credit: Milwaukee Admirals)|
Milwaukee, WI - The Texas Stars came back from a two-goal deficit to take the lead in the third period only to see Milwaukee Admirals' Tommy Novak score a power play goal late in the game to send the Ads to a 4-3 win over Texas Saturday night at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, snapping the Stars point streak at five games.
For the fifth time in as many games, Texas gave up the first goal when Egor Afanasyev found an open five hole on Stars goalie Matt Jurusik 8:17 into the opening stanza, giving Milwaukee the initial lead at 1-0.
Things turned worse for Texas, playing the second game of a back-to-back, when just under five minutes later Star of the Game Jimmy Huntington scored the first of his two goals Saturday, once again, targeting Jurusik's five hole to give the Admirals a commanding 2-0 lead.
It was apparent over the course of the first period which of the two teams was better rested. With Milwaukee having not played since Wednesday and Texas playing their third game in four nights, the teams headed to intermission with the Ads 2-0 and outshooting the Stars 8-4 in the process.
Texas kicked things into gear right away in the second when just nine seconds into the period the Stars got their second of four Saturday power play chances. Curtis McKenzie did not disappoint, taking tape-to-tape passes from Tanner Kero and Anthony Louis off his skate and into the net for his 17th goal of the season. The goal, McKenzie's 8th power play goal of the campaign and second in as many nights, moved the captain into a three-way tie with Louis and Joel L'Esperance for the team lead. It also cut Milwaukee's lead to 2-1 just 54 seconds into the frame.
With the second period waning and neither team taking control, Joe Cecconi re-awakened an almost lulled crowd of 5,611 when he fired a shot in Admiral goalie Connor Ingram's direction and the resulting rebound landed in the laps of both Jordan Kawaguchi and Kero, with Kero finding the back of the net as both he and Kawaguchi mirrored shots at the dumbfounded netminder. Kero's goal was a big momentum builder as the teams headed to the second intermission. Texas outshot Milwaukee 9-7 in the second.
Texas gained some control of the game early in the third. Just over a minute into the period, the Stars got a chance on the power play. In a carbon-copy of the previous frame, they found success on the advantage when Riley Tufte flung a shot from the left circle towards Ingram and in the mad scramble in front of the crease Ty Dellandrea found the loose puck dancing along the goal-line and got it past the sprawling netminder. It gave the Stars their first lead of the night at 3-2, just 3:14 into the final frame. Dellandrea's goal, his 17th of the season, extended the career-high for the former first round pick.
Texas finished the night 2 for 4 on the power play.
Just when the night was beginning to turn for the visitors, Milwaukee climbed back into the game with a power play goal of their own. With Ryan Shea in the penalty box for interference, Texas played a very steady penalty kill, highlighted by two of the best Jurusik saves of the season, only to have Huntington pick up his second of two goals on the night with just one second left on the penalty kill, knotting the game at 3-3 with 13:15 left to play.
Texas continued to mount pressure on Milwaukee, outshooting the Admirals 17-7 over the final frame, but things came apart late for the Stars when Kero was called for tripping with under five minutes remaining in the game. Just nine seconds into the Admiral power play, Tommy Novak scored what would be the game winner with 4:25 left in the game.
Milwaukee finished the night 2 for 3 on the power play.
Down 4-3 in the late minutes of the game, the Stars did go empty net and did get multiple faceoffs and opportunities in the offensive zone to tie it late with the extra attacker, but Ingram stood tall over the final few moments of the game and closed out the 4-3 victory for the Admirals.
Jurusik saved 18 of 24 in the loss that saw his record fall to 9-6-5. Ingram, the league leader in minutes, turned away 27 of 30 shots and saw his record improve to 25-14-5, good for second-most wins in the league.
With the regulation loss, Texas' point streak ends at five games, and their record falls back below .500 at 22-23-6-5 (55 pts/.491%). With Iowa's 5-2 Saturday loss in Manitoba, the Stars remain in sixth place in the seven team Central Division, mere percentage-points behind Grand Rapids for the fifth and final playoff spot in the division, with 16 games remaining.
With the win, Milwaukee improves to 31-24-4-3 (69 pts/.575%) to remain in third in the division. The Admirals have pretty much locked up their playoff spot as they too have just 16 games remaining,
Texas is off until Tuesday when they travel to Rosemont, Illinois, to close out their four-game roadtrip against the division-leading Chicago Wolves. Faceoff is set for 7:00 p.m. at Allstate Arena.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Khudobin (injury, out for season), Comeau (back injury, has not played)
Caamano, Lipanov, Martin (scratch)
Tonight's attendance was 5,611.