|(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)|
Texas didn't score first, but they scored last tonight as they defeated the visiting Tucson Roadrunners 3-2 on a goal in the final three minute of regulation off the stick of Ty Dellandrea. It was Dellandrea's second of the night and 16th of the year overall.
"I liked our body of work on both sides of the puck," said head coach Neil Graham. "We defended fast, and our stick position was very good. And in turn, we created a lot of scoring chances, especially through the final 40. I'm glad our guys were able to stay with it"
Texas got almost everything they could want. They played a tight game. They didn't get overwhelmed by an early deficit when Tucson went up 1-0 or when Tucson leveled things at two in the second. The club scored a power play goal in their second straight game to continue to shake off the funk of an 0-for-23 streak that preceded.
"If the power play's going, it gives a team so much momentum," said Ty Dellandrea. "If not, it can hurt you. Not only do you need to score on there to win the special teams battle, but it just gives momentum even if you're not scoring."
Tucson struck first early in the game on a goal that was in and out of the net in the flash of an eye. The broken play saw Cameron Crotty ding the puck off the middle bar in the back of the net and earn the Roadrunners a 1-0 lead. The pacey first period continued with limited whistles with the score holding at 1-0 until the second.
Texas took its turn early in the middle stanza with Ty Dellandrea taking first bow. On the power play, he slid one slowly between the legs of Ivan Prosvetov. It was the second time in as many game for Texas to score on the man advantage after a lengthy period of power play power outages.
Just 28 seconds later, Tanner Kero scored his first AHL goal of the year off the assist from Jordan Kawaguchi. Tucson was solidly on the back foot with a 2-1 score going against them. Head coach Jay Varady called a timeout to regroup.
"Our guys got buzzin', and we came out real hard, real fast," said Graham of the second period start. "We managed pucks better, and we didn't bring them as deep in our transition. And I thought in turn we were able to get a little more o-zone time and next thing you know, you're leading the game."
His group recollected themselves to stop the bleeding and regain the tie just two minutes later. Cameron Hebig planted himself in the blue paint and redirected a shot from Michael Carcone right up into the top of the cage. It was a power play tally for Tucson. The two teams took the tie to the second intermission with an 11-6 shot advantage for Texas in the frame.
Tucson tried to goad Texas into undisciplined penalties all night, but it was the Roadrunners who ended up on the wrong side of it more often than not. Texas, for its part, ignored the effort, "[They were] running around and doing their thing, but the key just for us is to stay focused and we don't want to give them any power play time."
Graham reiterated, "I thought our team was disciplined, and I thought we had a pretty good physical push back ourselves."
With time winding down, Texas got the puck to Dellandrea in the right-wing circle. He rifled it on the one-timer past Prosvetov for the 3-2 lead. Tucson would attempt to mount the comeback in the remaining 2:25. The Stars, urged on by the 6100+ in attendance, hemmed the Roadrunners into their own zone. Prosvetov was only able to leave his own net for the extra attacker with less than 45 seconds left. The Stars tried to get Dellandrea the hat trick on the empty netter, but it was for naught.
These two teams face off again tomorrow at 7 PM.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Riley Tufte (callup)
Caamano, Melnick, Khudobin (injury)
Comeau (back injury, has not played)
Lipanov, Martin (scratch)
Before the game, Texas released Will Merchant from his PTO and assigned Yauheni Aksiantsiuk to Idaho.
Tonight's attendance was 6,134.