CLEVELAND, OH – The Texas Stars got up early on Black Friday and sure made it worth their while. The Stars were ready to go for the 1:00 Eastern face-off, and defeated the Cleveland Monsters by a final of 4-1. It was a rough start on the road for Texas this season, but after winning just two of their first eight away from home, the Stars have now won two straight. The Stars are now 4-6-0-0 on the road, and 10-8-0-1 overall.
Roope Hintz and Landon Bow would lead the way for Texas. Hintz had an assist and the eventual game-winning goal, while Bow made 28 saves in net. Bow came into Friday afternoon’s game at Quicken Loans Arena off a run of recent success, and he would have no issues keeping it going. He has now won five of his last eight starts, while only surrendering 15 goals in that stretch. His play has helped the Stars go on a nice run as a team as well, as Texas has now won five of their last seven overall.
Bow and Monsters’ netminder The first period would have a hard time finding a rhythm, as there were three penalties called in the first 7:56. Neither team would be able to capitalize on their chances, however, as Bow and Monsters’ netminder Matiss Kivlenieks would make saves when called upon. The chances were spread out, though, as neither team was able to put the other’s goalie under sustained pressure.
The first period would end as it began, with the score 0-0. Cleveland owned a slender 9-7 edge in shots in the opening frame, and both teams were 0/2 with the man advantage. It was another solid road period for Texas, as the Stars were able to feel out their opponent and turn it into a 40-minute contest.
With the game level as the second period began, the Stars went on the attack right out of the gate. Texas would put the Monsters under pressure in their own zone, and just 1:13 in, the attack paid off. Brent Regner would fling a wrister through traffic looking for chaos; a deflection, a screened shot all the way through, a rebound, anything to break the ice. The strategy would pay off, as Denis Gurianov got his stick on the puck, deflecting it into the ice. The puck then bounced back up through Kivlenieks and into the net.
It was Gurianov’s first goal of the year, and will hopefully open the floodgates. The talented winger seemed poised for a potential breakout year this year, after scoring 12 goals as a teenager last year, but had struggled to find his first tally until today. Sometimes it only takes a bounce like the one Gurianov received to get the offense going, it was great to see him get that goal today.
The Stars would step on the gas after the goal, pressing for the insurance marker. They would find it just 3:45 after the Gurianov tally, as a beautiful passing play found twine. Hintz fed the puck to Brian Flynn as they entered the zone, and as Flynn carried it along the boards, he suddenly stopped on a dime giving him a passing lane. He whipped the puck back over to Hintz, who was gliding in on a 2-on-1. He scanned his options, then sent a shot towards the net. He partially fanned on it, but the change of pace fooled Kivlenieks, as it slid between his legs and in to double the Texas cushion.
The Stars now led 2-0, and were exactly where they wanted to be heading to the third with Bow in net. It was a fantastic middle frame for Texas, as they played very well in both the offensive and defensive zones. The period ended with the shots 23-18 Texas, 16-9 Stars in the second, as the Stars played a dominant frame to grab control.
The third period would begin with the Stars on the power play, after a Cleveland penalty with 1:31 left in period two. The situation would immediately get worse for the Monsters, as they would win the face-off back into their own zone, only to fire it the length of the ice and out of play for delay of game.
While the Stars did not capitalize on their brief 5-on-3, they would continue the pressure and score a power-play marker 0:54 into the third. There was a mad scramble in front of the Cleveland net, and Kivlenieks would be forced to make a couple key saves. The third rebound would bounce around the slot, however, as players on both sides desperately searched through skates for the puck. It would be Justin Dowling who would find it. Dowling took his time, aimed, and made sure to hit the empty side of the net to increase the Texas cushion to 3-0.
Texas was in complete control now. Though, there would be no quit in the Monsters. They would take the attack to the Stars, and with 15:05 remaining forced a penalty to give Cleveland a power play. The Monsters would use a nice give-and-go to finally beat Bow 5:46 into period three. Miles Koules sent the puck over to Dean Kukan, and cut to the open area in the slot. Kukan fed it back to him, and Koules quickly snapped a shot that would elude Bow to put the Monsters on the board.
Koules’ fourth of the year would give the Monsters, and their fans, life as the clock began to melt away, but a comeback was not in the cards on Friday. Bow would shut the door down the stretch, including during a late power play for the Monsters in which they would pull Kivlenieks to make it a 6-on-4 advantage. Texas would kill the penalty, and then immediately seal the deal with an empty-net tally. Sheldon Dries had the honors to fling it home from the neutral zone, and end any pretense of a rally. Dries’ fourth of the campaign came with 57 seconds left on the clock, and would give us our 4-1 final.
It was a solid win for Texas, who will now look for their third straight road win tomorrow night. The opponent will be the same, as the now 10-8-0-1 Stars will again battle the Monsters, with face-off scheduled for 7e/6c tonight.
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