|(Credit: Ross Bonander / Texas Stars)|
Facing a stacked Grand Rapids squad for the second night in a row, the Texas Stars lost in a shootout 4-3 in front of their sixth sellout crowd of the season. Players who arguably were expected to be on the Detroit roster this season were the difference makers in the game as Filip Zadina popped one goal, Jakub Vrana had a pair and Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 34 of 37.
"Give their goalie credit, he was good both nights," said Fredrik Olofsson. "I think we created enough chances to win, but they can't all go in. I liked our game a lot more tonight [than last night]."
The team had a leadership meeting after last night's loss and communicated their message to the broader group this morning. The overall summary was "effort," according to Rhett Gardner: "[Effort is] all we can control. Stuff's gonna happen. It's a real long season. It's not going to be perfect the whole way through. So I thought we had a great effort tonight and obviously not the result we wanted, but I think it's an effort we can we can build off of one going into the break."
Texas opened the scoring with Fredrik Olofsson's fifth of the year. He was all alone in front of Nedeljkovic for the score and got an assist from Nick Caamano, his first point of the year as he rehabs his training camp injury.
"He made a great play on that first goal," said Olofsson postgame. "We had a couple chances to put some more away. He's building on something great, and we're really glad to have him here."
Grand Rapids went next on the power play. The initial call on the play was no goal from the referee on the goal line. The Griffins celebrated like it went in, and the play was called down. Review from overhead called the Vrana goal and set the 1-1 score after twenty.
The Stars played a scoreless second but almost had a goal. Fredrik Karlstrom's effort dribbled behind Nedeljkovic and crept up to the line. Nedeljkovic covered the puck with his blocker as it crossed the line, but it was impossible to tell if it had completely crossed. The goal was called on the ice but reversed on review.
It appeared to be a tight 1-1 game for the third, but both teams scored a pair to make it a 3-3 game going into overtime. Vrana pushed Grand Rapids ahead early, but the Stars pushed right back with two laser beams from some defensive specialists. Riley Tufte went first, going 1-on-4 in the Griffins zone off the pass from Marian Studenic and rifling it past the goalie high. Two minutes later on the kill, Gardner broke in with Tufte on his wing. Gardner took care of business himself, beating Nedeljkovic high for a 3-2 lead. Gardner laughed postgame when asked if he and Tufte were comparing notes on how to beat the goalie, "Similar shots, just opposite sides. Just happy to see those go in."
Filip Zadina, on a conditioning assignment from Detroit, evened things up a few minutes later on a backdoor tap-in. With the score set at three all, the clubs went to overtime, where Texas has had trouble all season, holding a 2-6 record coming into the night.
The OT period passed without a goal, sending things to the shootout. The only goalscorer was GRG's Elmer Soderblom.
The AHL plays its All-Star Game on Monday with the skills competition tomorrow. The league takes a pause and Texas is next in action on the road on Friday in Colorado.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Damiani, Bourque, Karow (scratch)
Rosburg (out for season - upper-body injury)
Tonight's attendance was 6,778, a sellout.
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