|(Photo Credit: Andy Nietupsk/Texas Stars)|
CEDAR PARK, TX - The Texas Stars got goals from seven different players and points from fourteen skaters total, while goalie Adam Scheel quietly turned away 35 shots to lead Texas to a much-needed 7-1 win over the Charlotte Checkers (Florida Panthers/Seattle Kraken affiliate) Wednesday night in front of 5,726 electric fans at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park.
For the second time in as many nights, the Stars got the scoring started early when just over a minute into the game Marian Studenic, the newest Star to don the Victory Green, took a Ty Dellandrea feed and found the back of the net to give Texas a 1-0 lead, to match Tuesday's start.
Studenic, claimed on waivers by the Dallas Stars from the New Jersey Devils in late February, had not seen any playing time with the big club, is in Cedar Park on a conditioning assignment also had two assists, four PIMs and two other near misses at the cage.
The Stars commanded the pace of the period, outshooting Charlotte to the tune of 11-8 for the frame. Defensively Texas did not allow the Checkers to establish themselves in the zone while Adam Scheel did his job making both the expected as well as the spectacular saves.
The second period started much like the first when Joel L'Esperance won an offensive zone faceoff and peeled it back to Alex Petrovic. The big defenseman snapped a shot through an Oskar Back screen and past Charlotte goalie Spencer Knight for his second goal of the season to give Texas a 2-0 lead just 24 seconds into the middle frame. It was the first time Texas had led a game by two goals at any point since February 24th.
The Stars continued to dictate the majority of the second until they found themselves on the penalty kill for the third time of the night and Charlotte wasted no time in taking advantage of the advantage. Just 8 seconds into the power play, Zac Dalpe scored his 22nd goal of the season to cut the Stars lead to a dicey 2-1 with 6:14 left in the period.
Charlotte finished 1-for-4 on the power play Wednesday.
Texas, not wanting a repeat of recent performances with a one-goal lead, got back to work. Late in the frame, L'Esperance lit the lamp himself to give Texas a 3-1 lead with just a minute left in the second. L'Esperance's goal, his team-leading 20th of the season, gave him 37 points on the season, also a team lead.
Clearly in no mood to coast with a two-goal lead, the Stars attacked early and, in a repeat of the previous two periods, the Stars found the goal just a minute into the final frame when a fancy bit of passing from Anthony Louis to Studenic to Dellandrea back to Louis, who split the zone and found the back-of-the-net, giving Texas a 4-1 lead that they would not look back from.
Five minutes later as the Stars were coming off of their third power play of the night, Riley Damiani reignited the crowd with his 10th goal of the season off of a feed from Studenic and the rout was on at 5-1. Dellandrea received an assist in addition to Studenic, giving them both two assists on the night. Damiani's goal was the 3rd in four games since the diminutive forward's eight-game absence.
Not to be outdone, and before Damiani's goal could even be announced, Jordan Kawaguchi, a scratch on Tuesday, found paydirt for his third goal of the season. Kawaguchi's goal assisted by Petrovic and Back, gave Texas a daunting 6-1 lead with still over thirteen minutes left to play, ending Knight's night.
Knight finished saving 22-of-28 in the loss. Backup Antoine Bibeau stopped 4 of 5 in relief.
The teams played the remainder of the third as if it were a 6-1 game, not wanting anyone to get hurt in the process. The plan seemed to backfire when Stars defenseman Ben Gleason took a high-stick and come away with a leaky face, sending Texas on their fourth and final power play of the night.
Being in the precarious position of being up by five but a team that's struggling on the power play, Texas chose to continue to attack with the four-minute advantage and finally found success on the power play when Jerad Rosburg flung a shot at the net that got redirected by Rhett Gardner and past Bibeau. The goal was hotly contested, as it was initially credited to Rosburg, then Jeremy Gregoire before it was finally settled that Gardner had scored his fifth goal of the season, closing the books with the 7-1 final.
Lost in the shuffle was an outstanding 35-save performance from Scheel who saw his personal record level to a very unstable 6-6-6 while his GAA dipped to a career-best 2.97. Such a performance on any other night would have been First Star-worthy, but on a night when the offense explodes for 7 goals, it's just an "attaboy" for the Lakewood, Ohio native and North Dakota alum.
With the loss, Charlotte sees their record fall to 30-22-3-0 (63 pts/.573) but they remain solidly in playoff position at fourth place in the eight-team Atlantic Division.
Texas improves their record to 19-22-5-5 (48 pts/.471) but remain in the cellar of the seven-team Central, two spots out of the fifth and final playoff spot, with 21 games remaining in the season.
The Stars will take a hard-earned day-off on Thursday before welcoming the Tucson Roadrunners for 2 games back-to-back on Friday and Saturday. The teams split a pair of games in October in Arizona and the Roadrunners come in having lost 7-of-10. Currently Tucson's record of 17-26-3-1 (38 pts./404%) is ranked next-to-last in the 31-team AHL.
Faceoff both nights at the H.E.B Center at Cedar Park is at 7:00 p.m.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Caamano (11th straight), Comeau (back/has not played), Martin, Melnick, Lipanov, Aksiantsiuk, Khudobin
Tonight's attendance was 5,726