|(Photo Credit: Ross Dettman/Chicago Wolves)
Rosemont, IL - The Texas Stars, playing their third road game in four days including an overnight bus trip from Grand Rapids, were outmatched against a rested Chicago Wolves team that hadn't seen the ice since Tuesday and were toppled 6-2 to close out a three-game road trip at 1-2 in front of 8,791 on Chicago's Teddy Bear Toss event at Allstate Arena Saturday night.
Noted sliver-in-the-finger Rocco Grimaldi got the Teddy Bears tossed just 3:51 into the game for his first of two goals on the night. Chicago would eventually take that 1-0 lead to the first intermission, despite Texas having outshot the Wolves 12-7.
The second period opened with Texas on the power play and with Curtis McKenzie parked in his usual spot in front of the crease, redirected a Logan Stankoven shot past Wolves goalie Keith Kinkaid to level the game back at 1-1 just 57 seconds into the middle frame.
Nathan Sucese put Chicago back up 2-1 at 4:59 into the period when he snapped a shot past Stars netminder Remi Poirier and, once again, Grimaldi added another power play goal with 7:30 left in the period and the Wolves took their 3-1 lead to the second break, despite - once again - being outshot 15-6 in the stanza.
The effort was beginning to show promise when Texas cut the lead to 3-2 when Alex Petrovic tipped in a shot from Fredrik Karlstrom - who was originally credited with the goal - with 11:46 left in regulation, however, the effects of the three-in-four became apparent as the third went on. Just over two minutes later, Vasily Ponomarev went bar down to make it 4-2. Ponomarev piled on just three minutes later when he took advantage of a neutral zone turnover and beat Poirier for the second time on the evening to make it 5-2 with 6:50 left in regulation.
Having won the ensuing faceoff, in what may be the earliest Texas head coach Neil Graham has ever gone empty net, he pulled the trigger. Unfortunately for the Stars, the gamble didn't pay off as Matt Donovan stroked in an empty-netter from distance for the cap on the Wolves 6-2 victory. Texas was outshot 17-4 in the third period.
Between the pipes, Kinkaid carried the Wolves for the first two periods, finished the night stopping 29 of 31 shots as he saw his record improve to 3-7-1. Poirier, after having posting his first career AHL shutout, had possibly one of his most disappointing professional outings after allowing five goals on 29 shots as he saw his record drop to a very respectable 6-3-2.
With the loss, Texas sees their record fall to 14-7-2-1 (31 pts.) but still maintains a commanding four-point lead over the Milwaukee Admirals (13-8-1-0 - 27 pts.) in the Central Division. Despite the victory, the Wolves cannot escape the division cellar at 6-13-1-2 (15 pts)
The Stars grueling schedule continues as they return from Chicago on Sunday only to open a back-to-back two-game series against the Grand Rapids Griffins on Tuesday. Puck drop both nights is set for 7:00 P.M.
Injuries, scratches and notes,
McDonald (day-to-day), Bayreuther (out - ankle)
J. Murray, Wheatcroft (scratch)
Tonight's attendance was 8,791.