|(Credit: Texas Stars)|
After holding the lead three times in the game, Texas got outscored 3-0 in the final frame to lose their home finale 6-4 to the visiting Chicago Wolves. Anthony Louis scored a pair in the losing effort while Adam Scheel stopped 30 of 35 shots against him.
"they were winnable games [this week against Chicago]," said Texas head coach Neil Graham. "We should have really closed this one out. We had a lot of self-inflicted plays when we were in good position, in the driver's seat that we have to clean up for our final four to make the push that we need."
It was a heartbreaking way to see the final home game go down in front of a packed house. With all the momentum early in the third, leading 4-3 and having just killed off a lengthy 5-on-3, the Stars seemed to have all the cards in their hand. Max Lajoie and Stefan Noesen combined for three, including a shorty and an empty netter.
"It's that time of year where you can't shoot yourself in the foot not only once or twice, three time. Teams are too good at any time of year for that. Unforced errors cost us."
Texas got off to a good start with Ty Dellandrea's 22nd of the season just four minutes into the game. The primary assist came off the stick of Ben Gleason, who set the team's franchise record for assists by a defenseman with his 34th apple on the year.
Chicago had the quick answer and doubled Texas up to boot. Joey Keane and Richard Panik's goals just two minutes apart put the Stars down 2-1 until Anthony Louis stepped up. The forward continued his career year thanks to assists from Ryan Shea on both goals. Louis scored a power play goal with four minutes left in the first and then even-strength just a minute into the second, falling to his knees on the bid. It was the third lead change of the game, but it wasn't over yet.
Another power play marker, this time for Chicago, pushed the game to a tie. Josh Leivo lasered the puck in from the point with traffic in front to beat Scheel. Not to be out done, Jerad Rosburg also wanted to get in on the point-shot scoring. His fourth of the year came from the left-wing point through traffic to beat Pyotr Kochetkov and regain the Stars lead at 4-3 after forty.
The lead melted away in the third period. Texas would not score again. Falling down at the goal line, Max Lajoie lofted one over Scheel for the 4-4 tie. The Stars would earn a power play only to see Ryan Shea fumble a puck at the blue line and put Noesen on the breakaway. He went bardown for the 5-4 lead and the eventual game-winning goal.
Scheel would vacate the net with about two minutes remaining in an attempt to collect the tying goal. Noesen's second of the night into the empty cage ended that bid.
Elsewhere in the Central, Iowa beat Milwaukee in overtime to put more distance between themselves and the sixth-place Stars as they hurtle toward the end of the season locked in a battle for the last playoff spot in the division. Texas faces Iowa twice on the road before the end of the year, and both are must-win contests.
"I'm not going to start worrying about the end of the year. We have four games to play. Tonight was not how I wanted it to go. We have a game Wednesday, and that's where our focus needs to be."
The Stars are next in action on the road in Milwaukee on Wednesday before facing Iowa twice and Manitoba one final time to end the year.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Comeau (injury, has not played)
Khudobin (injury, out for season)
Roth, Kawaguchi, Caamano, Lipanov, Woods, Barteaux (scratch)
Tonight's attendance was 6,778, a sellout.