|(Photo Credit: Nicolas Carrillo/Griffins Hockey)
Grand Rapids, MI - The Texas Stars scored two goals in the last 2:06 of the game but were unable to overcome a four-goal deficit and fell 4-2 to the Grand Rapids Griffins in front of 6,986 at Van Andel Arena Friday night in American Hockey League action. The Stars came in looking to set their franchise-long point streak to thirteen games, but the Griffins proved too much to handle. The Stars had been on a 9-0-3 run since the beginning of December but could not find the back of the net until late against Grand Rapids, who have struggled early this season.
The game began with a flurry of chances for the Stars, but neither team was able to find the back of the net in an opening frame that saw the shots square at 11-11.
Grand Rapids broke the deadlock in the second period, when Pontus Andreasson scored the game’s first goal 3:54 into the middle frame. Austin Czarnik added a late goal in the second period when he slipped one past Stars netminder Matt Murray to make it 2-0 Grand Rapids with 4:07 left in the frame.
The Griffins then added two more goals, each from their special teams in the third period, with a shorthanded goal from Czarnik and a power play goal from former Star Joel L'Esperance to lift their lead to a daunting 4-0 by the midpoint of the third.
The Stars were able to get one back late in the period, when Mavrik Bourque netted his sixth goal of the season on the power play with 2:06 left in the third period. The Stars then pulled their goaltender and Stars captain Curtis McKenzie extended his personal point-streak to six with 1:20 left in the period when he deflected one past Griffins goalie Alex Nedeljkovic to halve Grand Rapids' lead to 4-2 with 1:20 left, but it was to no avail as the Griffins iced the game and closed it out to the aforementioned final.
In the win Nedeljkovic stopped 33 of the 35 shots he faced Friday night for the Griffins. For the Stars, Murray stopped 24-of-28 in dropping his first game since November 23rd - winning five straight in the process - to lower his personal record to 8-5-1 record on the season.
With the loss, the Stars’ record falls to 19-8-4-2 on the season but they maintain their lead in the Central Division over Rockford by three points with the IceHogs having one game in hand.
Grand Rapids and Texas resume the series Saturday night with the finale of the two-game set with a faceoff scheduled for 6:00 p.m. at Van Andel Arena.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Karow, Ducharme, Blumel (scratch)
Rosburg (long-term upper-body injury)
Tonight's attendance was 6,986
1. GR - A. Czarnik
2. GR - A. Nedeljkovic
3. GR - P. Andreasson