|(Photo Credit: Tim Watkins/Tim Watkins Photography)|
Cedar Park, TX - The Texas Stars got an early goal from fourth-liner Fredrik Karlstrom and goalie Matt Jurusik saved 22 of 24 shots, but Charlotte scored twice in the final 1:24 to overcome and beat the Stars 3-1 in front of 5,434 rowdy fans Tuesday night at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park.
Texas got on the board first and early when the rookie Karlstrom, playing in his first campaign in North America, found a rebound off of an Oskar Back shot and drove it home for the Swede's 11th goal of the season. The shot gave Texas the 1-0 lead just 2:53 into the game.
"It's a lot of adjustments, and I think the last couple of weeks I'm really growing into the game" Karlstrom said of his transition to the North American game. "[I'm] find[ing] a lot of consistency in my game so I'm happy with that, but right now it just sucks to lose actually."
The Stars got multiple chances on the power play in the opening period, including 1:23 on the 5-on-3 only to be turned-away by Checkers goalie Joey Daccord each time, going 0-for-3 in the first. Texas powered by the four power play chances outshot Charlotte 14-8 for the period.
Texas finished the night 0-for-6 on the power play and are now scoreless in their last 23 chances on the advantage at home.
"When you have opportunities to extend the lead against a very strong opponent and then you don't at least generate momentum you're doing yourself a disservice." Texas head coach Neil Graham said of the power play shortcomings in the first. "You're not always going to score in those those areas on the power play but you generate some looks, you hit the net a couple of times, you connect on some passes, it builds some momentum."
Midway through the period Charlotte evened the game at 1-1 when Owen Tippett got to Jurusik with his first of two goals Tuesday with 9:44 left in the opening frame. Tippett now has six points in three games against Texas in '21-22.
The teams skated through a scoreless second period that saw Charlotte outshoot Texas 12-10 in an otherwise uneventful frame. Charlotte did have an opportunity on a 5-on-3 of their own midway through the period that was not only masterfully killed by the Stars PK unit, but saw Texas outshoot the Checkers 3-2 during the penalty stretch.
Charlotte ended the night 0-for-4 on the power play.
The teams played somewhat tentatively with neither wanting to make a mistake throughout most of the third period. Both teams got a chance on the power play in the period only for each to come away without many chances and ultimately empty-handed.
With the game in the balance late, Cole Schwindt, from behind the net, fired a shot towards the front of the goal that Jurusik never saw. It appeared to catch the back of the netminder's pads and slid across the goal line, giving Charlotte their first lead of the night with just 1:24 left in the game.
Texas took their timeout, and after a faceoff win, Jurusik was pulled for the extra attacker. The strategy went for naught as they did not challenge Daccord once, and Tippett found the empty net for his second goal of the night. The marker gave Charlotte a daunting 3-1 lead with just 46 seconds left, and the crowd headed to the gates.
Daccord stopped 27 of 28 to earn the victory.
"The way I look at it is you still have to score more than one goal to win hockey games, and that's two games in a row," Coach Graham said later. "You have six power plays; you have to be better, plain and simple."
With the loss, Texas falls to 18-22-5-5 (46 pts./.460%) to remain mired in last place in the seven-team Central Division with only 21 games left to finish in the top five and make the playoffs. Charlotte improved to 30-21-3-0 (63 pts/.583%) with the victory to keep them solidly in playoff position at fourth place in the eight-team Atlantic.
Texas has little time to lick their wounds as they turn around and play the second game of a back-to-back with Charlotte Wednesday night at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park. Faceoff is at 7:00 p.m.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Barteaux, Caamano (10th straight, day-to-day), Comeau (back/has not played), Gregoire, Kawaguchi, Lipanov, Aksiantsiuk
Tonight's attendance was 5,434