Texas Drops Season Finale 4-1, Looks Forward to Playoffs

(Credit: Ross Bonander/Texas Stars)

In the regular season finale for both teams, Texas fell 4-1 to the visiting Manitoba Moose in front of a sellout home crowd. These two teams will face off against each other in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs starting on Tuesday as well.

Tonight's loss came after Texas dropped an 8-3 decision to the Moose last night, tied for the second-worst opponent goal count at home in franchise history. The game was less physical than last night with only a handful of power plays and 12 total penalty minutes. The combined goal total saw Texas out scored 12-4.

"We'll go over a couple of things here," said head coach Neil Graham with regards to looking ahead to next week. "I think both teams probably don't show all your cards here in a weekend like this. ... The regular season's the regular season and playoff's are a whole new animal. We have our plan in place."

Mavrik Bourque completed his season with an assist on Texas' lone goal, marking off 51 helpers and 26 goals. His 77 total points rank only behind now-assistant coach Travis Morin's 88 (2013-14) for the single season franchise mark. Not to be forgotten, Matej Blümel notched a career-high 62, playing in every single game this season.

"I think we got our full share [of adversity] this year," said Graham, referencing the injuries that plagued the club throughout the year. "When you look at the growth that our players have made in the development side, I'm proud of a lot of the work they put in behind the scenes, in games and in practice to make sure they're growing as professionals and that players [can] step up and go to Dallas and fit right in."

The Stars had the momentum early in the first period with a pair of strong shifts from the top six, leading to the first goal of the night. Antonio Stranges earned the tally from the hashes off slick passes from Bourque and Curtis McKenzie. Texas was outshooting the Moose 8-1 in the early going.

From there, Manitoba took the rest of the period. CJ Suess scored from outside the dots with a shot that deflected off Gavin Bayreuther to deceive Ben Kraws and tie the game at one. 

Carson Golder put Manitoba up 2-1 when both Alex Petrovic and Jack Becker collapsed on Dylan Anhorn in the corder. The defensive move left Golder open at the hashes for the goal.

The second period flew by uneventfully on the scoreboard. Texas earned their first power play of the night but was unable to come through with a tally. Newcomer Tristan Bertucci, playing in his first pro game, manned the point on the second unit.

"I don't know the exact numbers verbatim but we might have had five ATOs and PTOs [in the lineup] today. To see guys grab opportunity, step in and play meaningful minutes in meaningful games. That's what it's all about."

The final frame saw the Moose extend their lead with a slick play by AHL All-Star Brad Lambert to pick a corner on Kraws. Axel Jonsson-Fjallby set the final score with a power play goal in the final four minutes. Texas got a late power play opportunity and, same as last night, Fredrik Karlström had the best chances of the late third. He was the trigger man on back-to-back one-timers, but neither would go.

Now, the Stars rest up for just 72 hours before playing this same Moose squad again on Tuesday to open the playoffs. The playoffs are a different beast, but it cannot be a great feeling to drop these two games, at home, against Manitoba as they must win two of their next three to advance.

Puck drop for Game 1 is 7:00 PM.

Tonight's lines:



Injuries, scratches and notes
Stankoven, Pouliot, Murray (callup)
Haiskanen, MacDonnell, Kyrou, Karow, Wheatcroft, Berard (scratch)
Bäck (injury, week-to-week)
Reedy (out for the season - upper body)

Dallas recalled Derrick Pouliot and Matt Murray this morning. Pouliot will be the seventh defenseman for at least Game 1 against Vegas. Murray is expected to be Dallas' third goalie for the playoff run, spelling the starters in practice.

Tonight's attendance was 6,778, the thirteenth sellout of the year.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Manitoba - April 20 2024