|(Photo Credit: Jonathan Kozub/Manitoba Moose)
Winnipeg, MB - The Texas Stars in their first game coming off of an eight-day holiday break got a hat trick from Fredrik Karlström, a 40-save performance from netminder Remi Poirier and a four-point night - including a plus-five rating - from Matej Blümel as they cruised to a 6-2 win over a division rival Manitoba Moose in front of 3,517 at the Canada Life Centre Friday night.
Nick Caamano got the strong Stars showing started just 4:10 into the first when he fired one off of the right post past Collin Delia on a breakaway giving Texas the early lead., However, Manitoba answered right back less than two minutes later when known Stars-killer Jeff Malott evened it up back at one.
As the game looked interesting, Karlström potted his first two goals at 3:33 and then with just four seconds left in the first and the Stars went to the first intermission with a 3-1 lead having outshot the Moose 12-11.
In the second, Ashton Sautner made things interesting as he cut the Stars lead to one after taking a rebound off of a stellar Poirier save but took the rebound and wrapped around to make it 3-2 nine minutes into the second, but the Stars took off from there.
Just 2:17 later, Blümel buried one to put Texas back up at 4-2 before Alex Petrovic added another off of a rebound with four minutes left in the middle frame to give Texas a 5-2 lead after a second period that saw the Stars outshoot Manitoba 18-15, giving them a 29-27 edge in shots after two periods.
Karlström finished off his hat trick with 9:23 left in regulation when he cleaned up a rebound from an Artemis Grushnikov shot from the point that clanked of Delia's mask, giving us the final tally of 6-2.
Between the pipes, as mentioned, Poirier stopped 40-of-42 to earn the victory that improved his record to 9-3-2-1. While Delia saw 36 shots, he was only able to turn away 30 as he saw his record fall to 7-9.
With the W, Texas improves their record to 17-7-2-1 (37 pts.), enough to remain atop of the Central Division. The victory also clinched head coach Neil Graham's spot as the representative head coach of the Central's All-Star team in February in San Jose. With the loss, Manitoba falls to 12-14-0-0 (24 pts.) leaving them entrenched at sixth in the Central.
Up next, the teams take a day off for practice before hitting the ice again for a rematch on Sunday. Puck drop is slated for 4:00 P.M. at Canada Life Centre.
Injuries, scratches and notes
McDonald, Stranges (scratch)
Bayreuther (out - ankle)
Tonight's attendance was 3,517.