|(Photo Credit: Dale Woltmann/Chicago Wolves)|
Rosemont, IL - The Texas Stars Josh Melnick scored the fastest goal in team-history and the team's power play unit scored twice, but Texas was unable to overcome the Chicago Wolves high-powered offense in a 5-3 loss Wednesday night at Allstate Arena.
The Stars came out of the gate early when Melnick from the top of the right circle went stick-side on Wolves goalie Pyotr Kochetkov, caught post and found the back of the net just 8 seconds into the game, giving the Stars a very early 1-0 lead and setting the team-record for the fastest goal in franchise history. Justin Dowling had held the record of 16 seconds since April 17, 2015, against San Antonio. Will Merchant got an assist for the first career AHL assist for the PTO contract player.
Melnick's goal was also the fastest goal-against in the 28-year history of the Wolves.
Chicago answered back later through the period with Stefan Noesen’s league-best 29th goal of the season. Noesen fired his shot from the high slot, just getting it past Matt Jurusik's glove at 7:21 of the first, tying the game at 1-1.
Just under 3 minutes later, Texas scored the first of their 2 power plays of the night when Jordan Kawaguchi took a feed from Rhett Gardner and then lifted one past Kochetkov just under the crossbar to retake the lead at 2-1. Kawaguchi's goal, his second of the season, was the first power play goal of the North Dakota alum's young career.
Chicago opened the second period on an extended run in the offensive zone, outshooting the Stars 7-0 over the first several minutes of the frame. The Wolves finally got to Jurusik at 4:29 when C.J. Smith scored his 17th goal of the season, knotting the game at 2-2. Smith's goal was his fifth in as many games against the Stars this season,
The Wolves regained the lead for good with 7:31 left in the second when Chicago fourth-liner Ryan Suzuki found a bounding rebound in the left circle and fired one past a sprawling Jurusik to give Chicago a one-goal edge they would take to the intermission.
Half-way through the third and with Texas finally getting another chance on the power play, the wheels came off a bit for the Stars when they turned the puck over in their offensive zone and in a moment of chaos that saw a 2-on-1 breakaway go wide of Jurusik, the netminder's stick go flying and Referee Tatu Kunto go sprawling into the trapezoid - and onto Jurusik's stick - only for the puck to bounce out front to the Wolves Jack Drury who stuffed it past Jurusik for his 13th goal of the year, giving Chicago a commanding 2-goal lead at 4-2 just 34 seconds into the power play.
With time still left on the job and the wind not completely out of their sails, Ty Dellandrea redirected a Ryan Shea shot past Kochetkov to narrow Chicago's lead to 4-3 with his 14th goal and fifth power play goal of the season.
Texas finished the night 2-3 on the power play while the Wolves were scoreless on their 2 chances.
Maxim Letunov added a goal with 2:36 left to close out the scoring to bookend the final at 5-3.
Jurusik, from nearby La Grange, IL, finished the night with 29 saves on 34 shots, saw his record fall to 6-2-2 with the Stars, 7-3-3 total.
Kochetkov saved 31-of-34.
The Wolves victory lifts their record to 31-10-4-4 (70 pts/.710%), tops in the 7-team Central Division. Chicago does not play again until Saturday's matchup with the Stars in Rosemont.
With the loss, Texas falls to 18-20-5-4 (45 pts/.479%) to remain in 7th in the Central. Texas has gained 6 of-a-possible 10 points thus far on this, their longest road-trip of the season. The Stars roadie resumes Friday night at 7:00 p.m. in Milwaukee.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Caamano (8th straight, day-to-day), Damiani (8th straight, day-to-day), Comeau (back/has not played) Tufte (to Dallas), Martin, Aksiantsiuk, Kawaguchi, Khudobin
Tonight's attendance was 2,328