CEDAR PARK, Texas – The Texas Stars used a four-goal second period to erase an early deficit and take control Saturday night, in route to a 5-2 victory over the Milwaukee Admirals.The win finishes off a four-point weekend for the Stars, as they defeated Milwaukee by a 3-1 final on Friday night.
Mike McKenna would lead the way for the Stars, picking up both victories in net and stopping 71-of-74 shots on the weekend. It was a milestone weekend for him as well, as he moved into 10th all-time in AHL history with the 218th and 219th victories of his 13-year career. McKenna wraps a very successful week in which he went 4-0-0-0 (2.50 GAA, .953 SV%), including three wins over Milwaukee. His shutout of Milwaukee last Saturday was the 27th clean sheet of his career, which is also 10th all-time in the AHL.
The game did not start well for McKenna and the Stars, as just 1:14 into the contest Texas was behind. The breakdown happened when the Stars turned the puck over deep within their zone. Frederick Gaudreau grabbed the puck and shuffled a quick backhand pass over to Trevor Smith who fired it into the top corner to put the visitors on top. The remainder of the opening frame would pass without any additional scoring, and Milwaukee took the 1-0 edge to the first intermission.
The second period would be the decisive frame on Saturday night, but it would start much like the previous seven periods these two squads had played in the last week. McKenna and the Stars had won the first two matchups by scores of 1-0 and 3-1, and once again found themselves in a low-scoring contest as the game approached the midpoint. McKenna made several critical stops in the early portion of the period to give his offense a chance to respond, and they would not let him down.
With the game at four-on-four, the Stars would initiate a sequence in which they would strike three times in 56 seconds, and four in 3:53, to take hold of the lead. Brent Regner would start the onslaught 8:59 into the period when he cut to the slot and blasted a slap shot past Admiral goalie Anders Lindback to even the score 1-1. Just 14 seconds later the Stars were in front when Sheldon Dries drove to the far post and was in a position to finish the rebound off of a Tommy Thompson deflection to make it 2-1.
The four-on-four would end, but the offense for the Stars would not, and five seconds after the teams returned to even strength the Stars were up two. This time it would be Andrew O’Brien notching his first of the season, and first as a Star. O’Brien made a nice play to cut to the net and beat his former teammate Lindback to make it 3-1 less than a minute after the Stars had first tied the score. The Stars still were not done, however, as veteran Travis Morin would find twine from a tight angle with 7:08 remaining in the middle frame to make it 4-1, and give the Stars a three-goal lead after 40 minutes.
Most of the drama would be taken out of the final 20 minutes when Justin Dowling finished his rebound to give Texas their biggest lead of the game, 5-1, with 16:17 to play. By the time the Admirals were able to reduce the lead back to three with 2:20 left, the game was all but over. The Stars would win it by a final count of 5-2 to improve to 29-19-5-2 on the campaign. The victory helps the Stars edge closer to second place San Diego in the Pacific, as Texas now has a points percentage of .591 compared to .606 for the Gulls.
The Stars now head on a quick two-game road trip to Illinois, with stops on Tuesday in Chicago and Wednesday in Rockford. Tuesday’s contest against the Chicago Wolves will be an early start, with the puck dropping inside Allstate Arena at 11:00 A.M. CT. The Stars are 3-0 against the Wolves this season, winning twice in Cedar Park on opening weekend and again a month later on November, 21 in Chicago. Texas lost their only previous game this season against the Rockford IceHogs, falling 6-2 in Rockford on December, 2.
You can keep up with the Stars on their trip, as you can all season, by following @SinBinStars on Twitter. We live tweet every game, home or away.