|(Credit: Ross Bonander/Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars owned the night from the opening drop against the visiting Wolves, earning a 6-1 victory and their first home sweep on the season. Overall, it was a pretty complete game for the home squad in all regards, including a perfect penalty kill and a 2-for-4 power play effort.
The game featured goals spread across the lineup all four forward lines and the blue line scored. Eleven different players had points with Ben Gleason, Riley Damiani, Riley Barber and Jacob Peterson all notching multi-point games.
"That's a big part of why we're winning games recently: everybody's chipping in," said Riley Tufte, who had an assist tonight. "We can play four lines, put them out there in any position."
Despite losing the shutout in the final minutes of the third period, Matt Murray continued his strong play. His 22-save performance earned him back-to-back wins for the first time on the season and put him at 5-4-1.
"I've definitely faced a little bit of adversity in the past month; I hadn't played a whole lot," noted Murray postgame. "Getting these games meant a lot for my confidence."
The Stars came out strong in the first, outshooting the Wolves 11-5 and seemingly setting Chicago spinning multiple times with excellent puck movement and zippy, confident play. After some solid rotation in the offensive zone, Riley Tufte found an unmarked Gleason drifting down from the point.
Texas kept on the pressure in the second. Riley Damiani practically pulled his groin staying onside in the perod's second minute only to be the eventually benefactor of the play. Mavrik Bourque dished to Damiani to make it a 2-0 contest in tight. Texas's leading scorer, Riley Barber, notched his 13th of the media numbers on Zach Sawchenko's left shoulder to make it 3-0 halfway through the second.
Chicago mounted something of a pushback late in the second, aided by a power play. The stout Texas penalty kill, currently first in the league, did not allow a power play goal on four attempts. They've stopped 29 straight now.
"I think our pressure is huge," added Tufte. "Just knowing where guys are at and where to be. Pressuring super hard is good for us. I think that's where a lot of our success comes from."
The third period featured three Texas goals but somehow felt almost predictable in a way. The Stars broke through on the power play with goals from Marian Studenic and Jacob Peterson. Vasily Ponomarev marred the night for Murray, who had a late shutout bid cooking. The 5-1 score line wasn't the final though as Fredrik Karlstrom popped in a shorty during a 4-minute power play for Chicago.
Curtis McKenzie and Stelio Mattheos got locked in fisticuffs late in the game, which led to the Chicago power play. McKenzie was assessed an instigator in the last five minutes, earning him a game misconduct and a likely one-game suspension.
The Stars face Chicago once again in their next contest, a day game in Rosemont this coming Thursday. The game starts a 3-in-3 weekend for Texas, who will travel to Iowa for Friday and Saturday bouts with the Wild.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Blumel, Ducharme, Karow (scratch)
Stranges, Rosburg (day-to-day)
Tonight's attendance was 6,126.