Colorado Uses Strong First Period to Top Texas 3-2

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)

The Stars struck first but the Eagles skated away with the win in a 3-2 in front of 4,903 at H-E-B Center this Wednesday evening. Having mounted a five-goal effort the previous night, Texas' offense was frustrated by strong goaltending and a ton of 'almost maybe' chances that came up just short. Despite the loss, Mavrik Bourque continued to find the net with his league-leading 72nd point, a goal in the final frame.

"If this was a playoff game, you'd be dusting yourself off refocusing for game three," said Coach Neil Graham postgame. "You'd be trying to make a tweak or two to make sure you win it. I thought it was actually two really good hockey games"

The scorching home power play was stymied by the equally stout Colorado penalty kill as Texas went scoreless on five opportunities. The Stars even enjoyed more than a minute on the 5-on-3 in the middle frame but were unable to pierce Ivan Prosvetov. As an example of the sort of luck Texas earned on the night, Chase Wheatcroft had an excellent chance on a delayed penalty only to see his stick shatter on the shot.

"When [Colorado's PK] could pressure, they pressured. I think we generated some some nice opportunities both nights with our second unit. Our first unit that has been so consistent wasn't really able to find the rhythm they're used to. "

The first goal of the night went to Luke Krys, playing in just his sixth professional game. It was the first of his career, bouncing off the gear of an Eagles defender in front. Only 35 seconds in, it was 1-0 Texas.

"It feels good," said Krys postgame. "Sometimes you get lucky and things go in the net for you. But it's nice to get one." Justin Hryckowian, who is Krys' roommate and teammate from high school hockey, had the primary assist.

The Eagles answered back with three straight in the frame. Jason Polin stepped up first on a defensive miscue from Texas. With Nate Clurman skating below the goal line, both Texas defenders went for the man in the crease, leaving Polin open in the slot.

Graham analyzed the play, "I had to pause it here with my computer screen and say 'Geez, how did we make that decision?' but it's a split second. We were a hair trigger late on our coverage, and a good team will make you pay."

Eagles captain Brad Hunt put up the 2-1 score with a bardown blast from the point on the power play. And with 25 seconds left in the period, Keaton Middleton stepped into a shot at the left-wing dot for the 3-1 score.

"You'd like to be tight on the gap. But at the end of the day, it ended up going through about three bodies, two of ours, two of theirs. Maybe four bodies. [Middleton's] just gonna pound that as hard as he can. I'm not sure that goal goes in five more times in a row 

The second period went by harmlessly on the scoreboard despite chances both ways, but mostly in the direction of Colorado's net. The aforementioned 5-on-3, Wheatcroft's broken stick and an extended 5-on-3.5 with a broken stick for a Colorado forward all came and went in the period without any change in the goal count for Texas.

"We'll take a breath and we'll regroup [on the power play]. We'll probably try and settle in a few areas. I thought as the pressure arrived we rushed a couple choices. It's all teachable and they have been a teachable group on it and they'll reset and be fine."

The Stars showed life in the final frame late thanks to the efforts of the top line. Bourque completed a tic-tac-toe play at the net with Derrick Pouliot and Curtis McKenzie to put some energy into the building. With less than half a period to play, there was a chance at 3-2 Colorado.

The Stars got a late power play chance thanks to an Emilio Pettersen drive to the net. It was no dice there or on the 6-on-5 that ended the contest.

Texas remains stuck on 68 points with a chance to punch their playoff ticket with this weekend's pair of games against division-leading Milwaukee.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches and notes
Stankoven (callup)
White, Rassell, Haiskanen, McDonald (scratch)
Stranges, Poirier (injury, day-to-day)
Bäck (injury, week-to-week)
Reedy (out for the season - upper body)

Tonight's attendance was 4,903.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Colorado - April 3 2024