|(Photo Credit: Ross Bonander / Texas Stars)|
Cedar Park, TX - The Texas Stars got a last-minute goal from Mavrik Bourque to send the game into overtime, but the team's bonus hockey struggles continued as Joakim Kemell netted the game-winner and the Milwaukee Admirals were afforded to leave town with a series split thanks to a 5-4 OT win Saturday night in front of a sold-out H-E-B Center at Cedar Park. Much like Friday night's Stars 6-4 victory, the contest was a back-and-forth affair that featured five ties but only one lead change. Texas picked up three of a possible four points as they concluded Texas' Miltitary Appreciation Weekend.
For the second night in a row and fifth time in 12 games this season, Stars rookie sensation Logan Stankoven got Texas on the board first. Just 2:54 into the opening frame, Antonio Stranges caught the left post and the rebound fell in the crease in front of Stankoven and he buried it past Milwaukee goaltender Troy Grosenick to give the Stars the early lead. Late in the period, former Star Denis Gurianov tied the game, 1-1 on a snap shot into the top-right corner, beating Texas netminder Remi Poirier to his stick side with 12:17 left in the stanza.
Milwaukee took their first lead of the weekend at 7:01 of the second period when Texas couldn't escape their zone and a loose puck found its way into the Admiral's hands and they took advantage of the turnover. Fedor Svechkov, to Poirier's right, put it past Poirier to give the Ads a 2-1 lead. Texas answered back shortly after when rookie Christian Kyrou netted his first professional goal of his career from the left point to knot the game up at 2-2.
The game appeared to be heading to the second intermission tied, however with 38.6 seconds left, Milwaukee went back up when Zach L’Heureaux lifted one past Poirier from the slot, giving the Ads a 3-2 advantage.
"Tough goal at the end of the second but we came back and stayed in the fight." said Graham.
Texas struggled get out of their own end for most of the evening but were able to claw their way back midway through the third period when winger Nic Caamano lit up Grosenick with a laser from the left circle to tie the game at four apiece with 10:30 remaining in regulation.
The Stars, playing without a suspended Derrick Pouliot Saturday, saw their defensive struggles catch up with them just over a minute later when with Milwaukee on the power play and the Stars unable to clear their own zone, (another) former Star, Tye Felhaber got the lead back for the Admirals just 14 seconds into the advantage, making it 4-3 with 9:27 left in regulation. Milwaukee finished the night 1-for-3 on the power play.
"It plays a factor without a doubt," Graham said of playing without the veteran blueliner Pouliot. "You know Pouls (Pouliot), he's obviously a puck moving defenseman, but when he's out it gives another young player an opportunity to get some minutes and step up."
Texas did not get a chance all night on the power play until Riley Damiani took a stick to the face with 3:01 left in regulation and the Stars were unable to convert on their lone chance on the advantage, however with the net empty and extra attacker, Mavrik Bourque provided some late-game heroics when he fielded a nifty set up from Curtis McKenzie in the slot and Bourque fired a one-timer from the left circle to tie the game at 4-4 with 48.6 seconds remaining, sending the sold-out crowd of 6,778 into a frenzy.
Unfortunately, in the overtime, the defense let them down once again. Unable to get out of their own zone, Texas turned the puck over in front of the net and Kemell made them pay with the game-winner 2:33 into overtime to give Milwaukee the 5-4 win.
Between the pipes for Texas, despite the four goals Poirier had a solid night stopping 27-of-32 shots while taking the loss that saw his record drop to 3-1-2 on the season. Grosenick turned away 22-of-26 for Milwaukee as he saw his record improve to 2-3-0.
Despite the overtime loss, Texas remains atop of the Central Division standings with a 6-3-2-1 (15 pts.) on the young season. Milwaukee improved to 5-5-0-0 (10 pts.), good for fourth in the division.
"It's one of those things where we have an opportunity to keep learning. You know, I'm gonna say that a lot. But we also have the youngest team in the American Hockey League." Graham flatly stated. "You want to learn through victories and you want to work through success, but we've had plenty of that as well so we can rewatch it. We can see where we can get better and now we have time to develop this week." Graham concluded.
After playing three games in four days, the Stars get a chance to catch their breath as they get a few days off before hitting the ice again next Friday and Saturday against the struggling Grand Rapids Griffins. Puck drop for both games is scheduled for 7:00 P.M.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Bayreuther (out long-term/ankle), Reedy (upper-body injury)
Tonight's attendance: 6,778, the Stars second sellout of the season.