|(Photo Credit: Ross Bonander/Texas Stars)|
Cedar Park, TX - A night after coming from behind in most spectacular fashion, the Texas Stars came back from a 3-goal deficit early, however they were unable to replicate Friday's heroics but still managed to salvage a point, losing 4-3 in a shootout to the Manitoba Moose (Winnipeg Jets affiliate) in front of 5,772 rowdy fans at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park Saturday night.
Manitoba came out of the gate hot, scoring three goals in the first 4:22 of the game. Greg Meireles opened the scoring just 18 seconds in when he took a carom off the back wall and beat Texas' starting goalie Adam Scheel with a backhand wraparound goal giving the Moose the initial lead for the second straight night. It became very unsettling for the home crowd when Daniel Torgersson forced a turnover behind the Stars net, who then fed Wyatt Bongiovanni in front for the easy tap in, giving Manitoba two goals on two shots and a 2-0 lead just 2:13 into the game. Alex Limoges made it 3-0 just 2:09 later when he skated from the right circle and stick handled his way in front of the net and put one under Scheel's blocker, ending his night after giving up three goals on six shots and bringing Matt Murray between the pipes.
Texas at this point could have just mailed it in, but to the contrary, they dominated the rest of the period, if not the rest of the game.
"My goodness it could have gotten ugly. [We] could have started taking minors in frustration and the next thing you know you probably get run out of your own building." Graham said of his crew's resilience.
With 4:25 left in the opening frame, one of Friday night's heroes Jacob Peterson got the Stars on the scoreboard when he took a Mavrik Bourque centering pass and went top shelf on Moose goalie Oskari Salminen to cut Manitoba's lead to 3-1. The entire play was set up by Riley Damiani's work maintaining puck control in the offensive zone. Damiani was credited with an assist.
Less than a minute later, Riley Tufte retrieved an odd bounce of the puck behind Manitoba's net and found a wide-open Rhett Gardner in front and Gardner buried it to cut Manitoba's once daunting lead to 3-2, a score they would take to the intermission. Texas ended the period having outshot the Moose 17-8.
Texas maintained control for most of the scoreless second period, outshooting Manitoba 11-6 in the process.
Texas finally clawed their entire way back to tie the game at 3-3 in the third at 7:21 when Ben Gleason took a drop pass from Riley Tufte at the top of the left circle, drove toward the net and niftily toe-dragged past a defender and beat Salminen over his blocker for his fourth goal of the season.
The teams skated scoreless the rest of the way and headed to OT for the second consecutive night. Texas outshot Manitoba by an astounding 13-3 in the third, to give the Stars a 41-17 edge through regulation.
Neither team amounted much pressure in the extra frame that saw the Moose outshoot Texas 4-1, so the teams predictably headed to a shootout.
Tanner Kero led off the shootout and brought hope to the home crowd when he lit the lamp to start it off, however it would be the lone goal for Texas in the skills competition. Limoges and Isaac Johnson each netted one for the Moose, with Johnson's being in the fifth round, ending Texas' weekend magic with a 4-3 loss.
"At the end of the day, it's a hard fought point." Graham concluded.
Salminen finished the night stopping 39 of the 42 shots he saw to earn the win, while Murray took the hard-luck loss despite being a perfect 15-of-15 in relief.
Texas now heads on the road and embarks on a six-game, twelve-day road trip. The roadie begins in Rockford Wednesday with a 7:00 p.m. game against the IceHogs at the BMO Center.
Murray (in at 4:22)
Injuries, scratches and notes
Poirier, Karow, Shea, Stranges (scratch)
Tonight's attendance was 5,772