Late Two-Goal Lead Evaporates as Stars Fall 4-3

(Credit: Ross Bonander/Texas Stars)

Needing a single point to punch their playoff ticket, Texas looked to be set for victory after forty but gave up a trio of goals in the final frame to lose 4-3 in front of 6,339 at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park. What could have been a cathartic and emphatic win over the top team in the division became a letdown.

"We're still a young team. We are still trying to learn," said alternate captain Alex Petrovic, who had two points in the game. "They say there's no rookies in April, but it's still a pretty big factor. and I think we're all just kind of trying to mold. We've got a pretty solid team in there... Today is just another learning learning experience for us and it's only going to make us stronger going into playoffs."

Head coach Neil Graham added, "You've got to learn how to win as a team as we're finding our way with a potentially new group again. But there were also some fundamental things regardless of experience that we know as hockey players since you were a squirt... We have to be mature enough regardless of experience to understand certain situations."

It was the first game of the season without either Mavrik Bourque or Logan Stankoven; both played today in Chicago for Dallas. There was an open question of how the team would reshuffle lines without their top pivot, who is also the league's leading scorer. Fredrik Karlström stepped into the top line and Kyle McDonald checked into the fourth line. Antonio Stranges also came back from injury and settled into the second line. In all the shuffle, Texas only had one true center, Justin Hryckowian.

Graham commented on the center depth postgame, "When you're losing guys up the middle, you pop some wingers in to play center and you do your best to help. I know faceoffs were an issue for us tonight."

The power play got things started early for Texas after getting held off the sheet on Wednesday. Matej Blümel was in his usual spot on the right-wing dot. This time he found twine off the pass from Derrick Pouliot just seven seconds into the advantage.

The Stars seemed to have the advantage even at 5-on-5 with strong O-zone possession through the early going. However, Milwaukee had dangerous chances. They found paydirt on Adam Wilsby's bid from the point to make it a 1-1 game.

Period two was all Texas on the scoresheet. Infrequent goal scorer Alex Petrovic got a great dish from Emilio Pettersen and slipped it by Yaroslav Askarov low. It was a real goal scorer's goal to find the open space.

"I think, you know, myself and the whole team here were feeling good from the start," noted Petrovic.

Coming off a four-goal performance earlier in the week, Nick Caamano showed that he can distribute as well as he can execute on the next goal. He absolutely undressed Wilsby and found Kyle McDonald all alone in front. At the end of two, it was 3-1 for the home side.

Unfortunately for the near-capacity crowd, the score line would tilt to the visitors considerably in the final period, and quickly. Within five minutes of clock time, the score shift from 3-1 Texas to 4-3 Ads.

"It's not the result you want when you [are up by two] through 50. I'd rather have that now than two weeks from now, but there's no time for excuses. We have to be better. We have to close that game out. And now we have to make sure we're better."

Juuso Parssinen went first, scoring a goal that felt inevitable. The Stars continued to get lucky through the early third on scrambly plays in front. Finally, the Ads broke through with Poirier on the ice prone. The backhander from Parssinen was followed by another Milwaukee goal 43 seconds later to tie things. Jasper Weatherby was completely unmarked on the right side, and Poirier had committed to being high in the blue paint. It was an easy goal for Weatherby.

With the score tied, Texas took a timeout to reset. It looked to be working with the club making progress in the offensive ice. However, an ill-advised pinch from Pouliot created a 3-on-1 the other way for former Star Tye Felhaber and crew. Felhaber went all shot and beat Poirier for the 4-3 game winner.

Texas tried valiantly to get established on the 6-on-5 but could barely get out of their own zone to get Poirier off the ice effectively.

These two clubs meet again tomorrow, Sunday, at 5 PM. Texas will have the same chance to control their own destiny and punch their playoff ticket with a point of any kind. Chicago and Manitoba rematch tomorrow though, so the Stars may back into the playoffs regardless of the outcome of the game in Cedar Park.

Tonight's lines:
Stranges-Hryckowian -Blümel



Injuries, scratches and notes
Stankoven, Bourque (callup)
Romano, Kyrou, Haiskanen, Kraws (scratch)
Bäck (injury, week-to-week)
Reedy (out for the season - upper body)

Tonight's attendance was 6,339.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Milwaukee - April 6 2024