|(Photo Credit: Coachella Valley Firebirds)
Palm Desert, CA - The Texas Stars came from behind, led by shorthanded goals from Riley Tufte and Thomas Harley to start the third and held on the rest of the way to beat the Coachella Valley Firebirds (Seattle Kraken affiliate) 4-2, in front of 8,098 at Acrisure Arena Saturday night, in the first meeting ever between the two clubs.
The Stars magic hit new levels when on the same penalty kill, just 1:14 later, a loose puck in the right corner bled out to Harley, standing alone in the left circle, and the All-Star blueliner blasted it past Driedger's stick side to give Texas a real momentum boost as they regained their lead at 3-2.
The teams traded blows the remainder of a period that saw the Firebirds outshoot the Stars 11-9 but neither Poirier nor Driedger gave an inch. Texas' Tanner Kero added an empty-netter with 22 seconds left to put the nail in the coffin and the Stars cruised on to the 4-2 victory.
Between the pipes for the Stars, Poirier stopped 21-of-23 shots to earn the victory that improved his record to 4-1-1 in his rookie season. Driedger made 26 saves on the 29 shots he saw while taking the loss.
With the win, Texas (31-15-7-3, 72 pts.) remains atop of the Central Division standings, holding a one-point lead over the Milwaukee Admirals (33-10-3-2, 71 pts.) with a game in hand.
The two teams lace them up in less than 24 hours as the Stars and Firebirds face a 3:00 p.m. PT puck drop Sunday afternoon at Acrisure Arena.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Back, Laaksonen, Stranges (scratch)
Rosburg (likely out for season - upper-body injury)
Tonight's attendance was 8,098.
1. TEX - R. Tufte
2. TEX - F. Karlstrom
3. TEX - M. Bourque