Texas Stars Strike Early, Defeat Grand Rapids in Game 1

Friday, 05.9.2014 / 9:08 AM CT / Inside Edge
By Mark Stepneski
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Texas Stars Strike Early, Defeat Grand Rapids in Game 1

The Texas Stars got off to a quick start in Thursday night’s game and never looked back, defeating the Grand Rapids Griffins, 5-2, at Cedar Park Center in Game 1 of the AHL Western Conference Semifinal series.

Dustin Jeffrey scored two goals and Curtis McKenzie, Brenden Ranford and Mike Hedden also tallied. Jyrki Jokipakka and Travis Morin both had two assists. Jack Campbell stopped 23 of 25 shots.

Texas, which hadn’t played in more than a week, dominated play from the start, outshooting the Griffins 36-23 on the night, including 30-14 over the first two periods.

“It was a good game for us,” said Jeffrey. “Obviously we had a long layoff. Sometimes you see teams come out a little rusty, but the way we put pressure on their D in the first period put a little doubt in their game.”

The Stars scored twice in a 13 second span early in the first period to build a 2-0 lead. Morin set up Ranford on a breakaway, and Ranford roofed a backhand shot over Griffins goaltender Petr Mrazek to put Texas up 1-0 at 3:19 of the first period. Just 13 seconds later Jeffrey scored off a backhand shot from the slot to give the Stars a 2-0 lead.

Grand Rapids cut the lead 70 seconds later when Cory Emmerton scored on the power play, getting wide open in front of the Texas net and slipping a shot around Campbell. But the Stars extended the lead back to two goals late in the first when Hedden tipped a Jokipakka point shot past Mrazek with 1:09 remaining.

“It was a good start for us,” said Texas coach Willie Desjardins. “We got a couple of breaks. Real good play on the first one and then we came back with the power play goal. It was a good start.”

Griffins forward Tomas Jurco cut the Stars’ lead to 3-2 at 4:20 of the second, beating Campbell with a slick snap shot from the slot. But the Stars bounced back with two goals to make it a 5-2 game. Jokipakka set up McKenzie on a breakaway and McKenzie’s shot was initially stopped by Mrazek, but the puck went up in the air and then bounced off the back of the Griffins goaltender and into the net at 5:41 of the second.

“They had some momentum after they made it 3-2, but to get the two-goal lead back it’s a bit of a dagger to them,” said Morin.

Jeffrey made it a 5-2 game midway through the second, slipping by a Griffins defender and scoring from close range with Texas on the power play.

Campbell stopped all 11 shots he faced as the two teams played a scoreless third period.

“He played well,” Desjardins said of Campbell. “He’s played well ever since he’s come back [from injury]. It’s good to see.”

Game 2 of the series is Saturday night in Cedar Park.

Rotating goaltenders

Through the Texas Stars first four games of the playoffs, coach Willie Desjardins has rotated his starting goaltender. Cristopher Nilstorp played in the first and third games and Jack Campbell has played the second and the fourth. If the pattern holds up, and all indications it will, Nilstorp will start Saturday’s game against Grand Rapids.

“I’ve never rolled two, I’ve always gone with one,” said Desjardins. “It is a little bit different, but it is a great thing for a coach to have two guys playing well. How lucky is that?”

Ritchie still out

Texas forward Brett Ritchie remains out with a lower body injury. Ritchie has not played in the playoffs due to the injury, and Texas coach Willie Desjardins said there is no definitive timetable for Ritchie’s return.

“We’re just taking it day to day and see where he is at,” said Desjardins.

Ritchie hasn’t played since April 13, missing the last the last two regular season games and all four playoff games.

Texas Stars lineup

Curtis McKenzieTravis Morin – Brendan Ranford
Dustin JeffreyChris MuellerScott Glennie
Kevin Henderson – Justin Dowling – Mike Hedden
Toby PetersenRadek FaksaMatej Stransky

Patrik NemethJyrki Jokipakka
Jamie OleksiakCameron Gaunce
Derek Meech – Maxime Fortunus

Jack Campbell
Cristopher Nilstorp

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 CHI 58 36 18 4 160 134 76
2 DAL 55 35 15 5 178 147 75
3 STL 56 30 17 9 133 130 69
4 LAK 53 32 18 3 146 124 67
5 SJS 53 28 20 5 154 143 61
6 ANA 53 26 19 8 120 125 60
7 COL 57 28 25 4 153 158 60
8 NSH 54 25 21 8 139 144 58
9 MIN 54 23 21 10 133 134 56
10 VAN 54 22 20 12 125 144 56
11 ARI 53 24 23 6 139 163 54
12 CGY 53 25 25 3 143 156 53
13 WPG 54 24 27 3 139 157 51
14 EDM 56 22 29 5 138 168 49

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Benn 55 28 34 16 62
T. Seguin 55 28 32 11 60
J. Klingberg 55 10 36 14 46
J. Spezza 52 18 22 5 40
P. Sharp 55 16 24 -2 40
A. Goligoski 55 4 20 16 24
C. Eakin 55 10 13 0 23
M. Janmark 55 10 10 14 20
J. Demers 48 7 12 16 19
V. Nichushkin 52 6 13 7 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Niemi 20 10 5 .908 2.52
K. Lehtonen 15 5 0 .912 2.79
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