|(Photo Credit: Nicolas Carrillo/Griffins Hockey)|
Grand Rapids, MI - A night after seeing their franchise-tying point-streak halted at 12, the Texas Stars saw a two-goal lead evaporate, only to come back in bonus time, highlighted by Michigan native Antonio Stanges' game-winner in the seventh round of the shootout that vaulted Texas to a 3-2 win over their division rival Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings affiliate) in front of 8,300 Saturday night at Van Andel Arena.
Texas got on the board first just 1:41 into the contest when Jacob Peterson took a Fredrik Karlstrom feed and backhanded it past Griffins goalie Alex Nedeljkovic - who's five-hole was showing - to make it 1-0 early in the first.
While Peterson's goal was the only tally of the first period, Texas dominated the opening twenty minutes as evidenced by their 15-8 shot advantage in the first, however the Stars only took that 1-0 lead to the first intermission.
In complete contrast to Friday night's affair, the Stars picked up right where they left the first off, dominating the possession time in the second period as well as a 12-7 shot advantage during the middle frame. Texas was unable to solve Nedeljkovic until Matej Blumel scored a power play goal with with a blast from the top of the right circle with 5:34 left in the period.
Texas finished the night 1-for-3 on the power play Saturday. The Stars league-leading PK unit was a perfect 2-for-2.
Drew Worrad halved the Stars lead at 2-1 just 3:34 into the third but yet the game still looked to be in the Stars stars as the game went late into the game. With just 1:53 left in regulation, noted Stars-killer Taro Hirose netted the equalizer to suck the wind out of the Stars sails making it 2-2, assuring the fate of bonus time. Texas outshot Grand Rapids for the third consecutive period, the third by an 8-6 margin.
Texas continued to dictate the pace of play in the overtime period, outshooting the Griffs 3-0 while possessing the puck for the majority of the extra frame, but their offense came out fruitless and the teams headed to the skills competition.
Tanner Kero netted one in the first round and it was matched by former Stars center Joel L'Esperance. After a scoreless second round, former Griff Riley Barber found the back of the net, but he too was matched by Friday night's hero Austin Czarnik.
Texas goalie Anton Khudobin shut the Griffins down for the next four rounds when Ann Arbor native Stranges finally solved Griffs netminder Nedeljkovic - who is on a conditioning assignment from the Red Wings - using his side-skating signature move to clinch the victory in the seventh round of the shootout.
Texas closed out their three-game road trip picking up three of a possible six points to move their record to 20-8-4-2 (46 points) to extend their lead to four points over second-place Rockford. The IceHogs have one game in hand.
In net for the Stars, Khudobin finished the night stopping 19-of-21 shots and with the win saw his record improve to 12-3-4-1 on the season. Nedeljkovic turned away 36-of-38 in the loss for Grand Rapids.
Texas heads home to Cedar Park and returns to the ice Saturday January 14th for the opener of a two-game set against Milwaukee. The Admirals currently reside in third, six points behind the division-leading Stars in the AHL Central Division. Faceoff for Saturday's game is slated for a 7:00 p.m.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Laaksonen, Ducharme, Damiani (scratch)
Rosburg (long-term upper-body injury)
Tonight's attendance was 8,300
1. TEX - A. Stranges
2. GR - T. Hirose
3. TEX - M. Blumel