CEDAR PARK, Texas – The Stars returned to action Friday night at the H-E-B Center to take on the visiting Grand Rapids Griffins, the affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings. Looking to get their special teams and offense back on track, the Stars were able to realize some of that high-end potential that was expected before the season started, but fell 5-4 in overtime.
Both teams struggled coming out of the gates. That came to an abrupt end with a snipe over the glove of Texas goalie Colton Point by the Griffins Dominik Shine ten minutes into the game. In response, the Stars pressed and held their offensive zone for a couple of shifts. Instead of leveling the game at one, a dump pass off the glass led to a 2-on-1 break where Taro Hirose fired one over the shoulder of Point to extend the Griffins’ lead to two.
Trying to avoid falling into a daunting 3-0 hole, the Stars answered back with a Joel L’Esperance one-timer on the power play. The one-goal deficit was short-lived, however, as Griffins captain Brian Lashoff tossed the puck from the blue line on the net and in. It was an innocent shot, 60 feet from the pipes that Point never saw and it cost the Stars dearly.
Coming into the second period, the Stars made a change in net, turning to Adam Scheel for the rest of the game.
After a flurry of penalties to start the period, Texas scored as the power play expired to bring the deficit back to one. Just a few minutes later, L’Esperance potted his second goal of the night and tied the game up at three.
Not even five minutes later, Jeremy Gregoire and Thomas Harley sprang a 2-on-1 break and executed it to perfection. A saucer pass at the blue line to Harley and a cross feed to Gregoire allowed the Stars to claim the lead for the first time tonight.
As noted over the last few games on Twitter , the Stars had been dominating the pace of play and were putting everything on the net in the second. That’d change three minutes later when Tyler Spezia put the equalizer through Scheel’s pads.
Both teams tightened up in the final 20 minutes and looked to play for the point in the standings. The strategy worked and this game headed to overtime with little drama in between. On the first and only shot of the extra period, it was Turner Elson burying the one- timer over the glove of Scheel, claiming the extra point.
After last weekend’s disappointing outing on the power play, one would figure special teams would be a focal point in practice. Going two-for-five on the man advantage on Friday is a good start in rebuilding the power-play percentage. The offense clicked at a rate that fans have been waiting to see all season in the second period. If the Stars can harness that mystical power at 50 percent for a whole 60 minutes, they should start to see a change in the record books quickly.
The Stars pride themselves on their defensive structure and goalie play. On Friday, neither would be the case, albeit the defense was solid. Instead, the goaltending struggled and hobbled the Stars. Friday’s first three goals allowed by the Stars were largely a result of defensive breakdown and errors, not goaltending. The first goal came off a bad turnover near the slot and the second, an odd-man rush played correctly at all ends. The first two goals would be difficult for any goalie to stop. The third goal was simply one that Point did not ever see coming. With roughly half of the players on the ice crowding the line of sight, there was no chance for a stop there.
The components for success are present over the last couple of games, but only one will show up any given night. It’s not at the level of infuriating at this point, but it has to be frustrating the players at least a little bit. Putting the last two games together into one will be the benchmark for Saturday night’s contest at 7 p.m. at the H-E-B Center.
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