Texas Stars Clinch Playoff Spot Despite 2-1 OT Loss to San Jose.

(Photo Credit: Andy Nietupski / Texas Stars)

 Cedar Park, TX - Needing only to earn a point going into Friday's game to clinch a playoff spot for the ninth time in franchise history, the Texas Stars got just that with a 2-1 overtime loss to the San Jose Barracuda in front of 5,112 Friday night at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park.

"Yes, but there's more work to do." Stars head coach Neil Graham said when asked if he was happy to have clinched a playoff spot. "I think we have other goals in mind and yes, it's part of the checklist but I think the way we've been playing as a team, I think that part of that timeline [making the playoffs], that was going to happen. Now the bigger thing for us is pushing towards consistent plays our habits you know, we want to win the division."

A scary moment occurred when just 2:41 into the game, Matej Blumel took a hard hit from Barracuda forward Nathan Burke, sending Blumel awkwardly into the wall leaving him motionless on the ice for several minutes. The rookie forward was taken off of the ice on a stretcher and the game was delayed for around 30 minutes as the teams regrouped.

"He has been discharged from the hospital so we will just check in on all things considering that he's doing okay. We'll just monitor the situation, but we're just happy that he's doing alright. So obviously it was a scary moment. But I think most importantly, seems like he's gonna be doing okay." said Graham.

When the game resumed after the lengthy delay, neither team was able to get things going as both teams took some time getting their legs under them in a period that saw San Jose outshoot Texas 10-4 for the stanza.

The Barracuda had two late chances on the power play but were unable to solve Stars netminder Scott Wedgewood, playing for Texas on a conditioning assignment from Dallas, and the teams headed to the first intermission in a scoreless tie.

The Stars precarious position playing without Blumel got worse early in the second period when Riley Barber got tangled up with San Jose forward Andrew Agozzino. The normally cool-headed Barber head-butted Agnozzino amidst the scrum and the Stars leading-scorer was given the gate as he was assessed a five-minute major and a game-misconduct, ending his night early while forcing Texas to play the remainder of the night with only ten forwards.

"You don't see it a lot at this level." Graham said of playing shorthanded. "There was moments there where it was more about just getting the freshest legs. You're losing line combinations and it's a little more chaotic in terms of that type of play. But at the end of the day I give our players credit. They were ready at a moment's notice."

The teams continued to skate scoreless throughout the period with both netminders making game-changing stops at each end. Texas' best chances came late in the middle frame when San Jose took back-to-back penalties to give the Stars their first two chances on the power play. Unfortunately for the Stars, the advantage backfired when they were unable to keep the puck in the offensive zone and the biscuit ultimately landed on the stick of Tristen Robins racing the other way and he blasted one over the glove of Wedgewood for a shorthanded goal to give the Barracuda a 1-0 lead with 4:43 left in the second.

San Jose was able to get out of the period unscathed, holding on to their 1-0 lead after each team posted nine shots, however the period ended with a scuffle that would put Texas on the power play to start the third.

The Stars came out strong to start the third period, despite being held scoreless on their third power play of the night with Barracuda goalie Aaron Dell meeting every challenge along the way. Midway through the final period of regulation the Stars finally got to Dell when newcomer Scott Reedy centered a pass from below the goal line and found Texas blueliner Ryan Shea at the top of the left circle. Shea flung the puck towards the front of the net and it bounced off of a San Jose defender and past Dell to knot the game at 1-1 with 9:27 left.

Texas continued to dictate the pace of the third period, outshooting 10-6 in the process, but neither of the teams were able find the twine the rest of the way and they headed to overtime.

With Texas having punched their ticket to the postseason just by making it to overtime, the Stars needed to complete the comeback to keep pace with the Milwaukee Admirals - who beat Grand Rapids 6-3 Friday night in Grand Rapids - but were unable to pick up the second point.

The bonus time started well for the Stars as they controlled the puck in their offensive zone for the first 35 seconds of the extra period, but once they lost the puck, they were unable to make a line change and the Barracuda took advantage of tired legs as Derrick Pouliot netted the game-winner 48 seconds into overtime to give San Jose the 2-1 victory.

"It's unfortunate we couldn't finish off and get the two points because our guys competed extremely hard in the third." said Graham. "I'm not going to sit back and look at the woulda, shoulda, coulda there. There's things that we see that we need to execute better and we didn't." Graham concluded.

Between the pipes, Wedgewood was impressive stopping 24-of-26 in what may be his lone conditioning start, but still took the OTL to give him a record of 0-0-1-0 in his potentially brief stint in the AHL. Dell turned away 22-of-23 shots to earn the win.

Texas closes out their current six-game homestand as well as their two-game series against San Jose Saturday night as the teams square off once again Saturday night at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park. Faceoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. CST.

Tonight's lines



Injuries, scratches and notes

Mastrodonato, Berard, Laaksonen, Stranges, Wells (scratch)

Karlstrom (out for season - lower body injury)

Rosburg (likely out for season - upper-body injury)

Tonight's attendance was 5,112

Three Stars:

1. SJ - D. Pouliot

2. TEX - R. Shea

3. TEX - S. Wedgewood

AHL Gamesheet - San Jose @ Texas - March 31, 2023