Playoff-Bound Stars Close Out Milwaukee With 3-1 Win

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)

Cedar Park, TX -
The Texas Stars, having already clinched a playoff spot before the puck even dropped, outplayed the Milwaukee Admirals for sixty minutes as they skated away with a 3-1 victory in front of 5,626 at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park Sunday evening.  

Just a night after the Stars took a two-goal lead to the third period, only to eventually fall 4-3 to the division-leading Admirals, Texas was able to close out Milwaukee Sunday to earn a series split.

"[I]t was real good response from our group," Texas head coach Neil Graham said after the game. "Hockey's a funny game. Similar situation as last night. That was a good game last night. Didn't like our last eight minutes (last night) same situation today. I thought we were more detailed. We were better with our puck management. We were better with our communication both on the ice and on the bench, and the result is two points."

Milwaukee got on the board first when Adam Wilsby went high-right on Stars goalie from the slot 11:47 into the first. The Stars showed their resiliency when they answered right back just 1:12 later when Emilio Pettersen found a loose puck in a scramble in front of the net and found the back of the net past Ads netminder Yaroslav Askarov to level the game at 1-1 with 7:01 left in the first. 

"I think this time of year it's nice to contribute," Pettersen said after the game. "I think I contribute in different ways than just scoring, so I'm trying to evolve my game here."

Texas pushed their advantage late in the first period with a goal by Kyle McDonald, his second in as many games, once again assisted by Nick Caamano. The two have found scoring chemistry as of late. It was actually McDonald's heady dump-in that created the opportunity where Caamano collected the puck and fed it back to McDonald at the net. The Stars skated to the locker room with a 2-1 advantage.

Once again, the second period was scoreless between these two teams, setting up a huge final frame for Texas with the one-goal lead. It was a mental mistake from the often-aggressive Askarov that set up the Texas chance at the 5-on-3 power play for a full two minutes. Zach L'Heureux took a slashing call but Askarov also took a call for playing the puck outside the trapezoid, a very rarely seen penalty.

Texas took about 20 seconds to get established and from there it was surgical for the top power play in the league. Following a stop by Askarov, Graham took one of his famous well-timed timeout for assistant coach Travis Morin, who leads the power play unit, to draw something up. It worked marvelously.

The Stars won the faceoff back to Matej Blümel, who passed to Derrick Pouliot on the left-wing dot. With the Ads drawn to his side, Pettersen was all alone with a yawning cage on the right dot. He made no mistake with the laser pass and made it 3-1.

Tonight it would stick.

Karl Taylor called his own timeout with 2:02 left in the third period; Askarov hit the bench with 1:45 left. The Ads had a lot of zone time in those final 105 seconds, but it was a bend-don't-break moment for the home side. The 3-1 final held.

Now Texas has a few days off after playing a four in six nights. They'll board the plane and head on their final road trip of the regular season, a pair of contests in San Jose. After that, they'll return home for the season finale, a date with Manitoba, their most likely first-round playoff opponent, here in Cedar Park.

Tonight's lines:



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

Tonight's attendance was a 5,626.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Milwaukee - April 7 2024