|(Photo Credit: Andy Nietupski / Texas Stars)|
Texas got themselves right back in it just 5:20 later while on their first power play of the evening, Stars captain Curtis McKenzie collected the puck in the midst of a mad scramble in front of the net and went top shelf from the bottom of the right circle to knot the score at 1-1. Marian Studenic and Tanner Kero each were credited with an assist, and the hopes were restored for the crowd.
The teams headed to the first intermission tied at 1-1, with Texas having a 13-10 shot advantage.
Things began to look brighter for Texas when on their second power play of the night, Studenic lit the lamp for the eleventh time this season - and the third time in two nights - when he took a cross-ice pass from Kero and fired it from his knees, from the right circle and past IceHogs goalie Dylan Wells to make it 2-1 Texas, just 2:56 into the second. Riley Barber was credited with the additional helper, adding to his team-leading 29 points.
Both teams played close to the vest the remainder of the period and the teams headed to their respective rooms with Texas leading 2-1. Texas outshot Rockford 9-7 for the middle frame.
With Texas playing their fifth game in seven days, the fatigue looked to finally show on Texas as they were outshot 11-6 in the final period of regulation. Neither team was able to see any results on the scoreboard and the game seemed to be in the hands of the streaking Stars until Lukas Reichel snuck a backdoor tap-in past Khudobin with just 2:38 left in regulation to send the game to bonus hockey.
"Five games in seven days, that takes a toll on a team and there was moments we would run out of a little bit of steam," Graham said. "I was proud of our team's effort."
As mentioned, it just wasn't in the cards for Texas Wednesday. Just 56 seconds into the extra frame, David Gust scored the game-winning goal, ending the Stars winning streak at eight.
"Be positive." Graham said his message was to the team, as they head into the break. "I told guys not to put their heads down. They played hard, things aren't ever gonna be perfect."
Khudobin finished the night stopping 27-of-30 shots as his record fell to 10-3-3 with the overtime loss. Wells stopped 27-of-29 to earn the win to improve his record to 4-3 on the season.
Texas now heads off to the Christmas break, leading the Central Division by five points over the Milwaukee Admirals. The Stars don't return to the ice until they open a two-game series against the Tucson Roadrunners on December 30th.
Merry Christmas y'all.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Karow, Ducharme (scratch)
Rosburg (long-term upper-body injury)
Tonight's attendance was 5,787.
1. RFD - D. Gust
2. TEX - M. Studenic
3. TEX - T. Kero