Dowling breaks out of funk, Button plays on the wing

Justin Dowling celebrates his first goal at home this season. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Justin Dowling celebrates his first goal at home this season. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

A frustrating offensive season may have started to turn around for Justin Dowling during the 5-0 win against Abbotsford.

Dowling was expected to have a bigger offensive impact after registering 30 points in 38 games last season. Instead of living up to expectations Dowling had just 13 points in the Stars’ first 36 games, including two goals.

“It was good to finally get one at home,” Dowling said. “It’s been a bit of a grind this season. We’re working hard and the line (has been) starting to buzz a bit these last few games, it’s always nice to get the monkey off your back.”

It had been 14 games since Dowling had scored, dating back to a Nov. 29 loss in Grand Rapids, and it was his first goal at home.

It was a frustrating stretch, which warranted the celebration after he showed patience on the goal.

With Abbotsford goalie Joey MacDonald fighting through traffic, Dowling waited and took two strides before feathering a shot home.

Overall, it was one of the best games for the line of Mike Hedden, Dowling and Brett Ritchie. The unit was on the ice for three of the Stars five goals and combined for 12 shots in the game.

“I don’t think it’s a lot different than the start of the year,” Ritchie said. “Just maybe a little luck around the net and confidence. Once the puck starts going in you get a little confidence … at the start of the year it was just not getting the right bounces, I think if we had gotten the luck earlier we would have really kept jelling like we are now.”

Wathier scores after another scoring change

Of Francis Wathier’s five goals this season, three have now come after an official scoring change.

Against Abbotsford Wathier’s attempted pass to Brendan Ranford was deflected in by a Heat defenseman. The referees original gave the goal to Ranford, but after video review it was confirmed he had not touched the puck.

Stars dress 7 defensemen, Button plays forward

Defenseman Ryan Button played on the left wing with Taylor Peters and Matej Stransky.

“He’s such a good skater and he works so hard,” Stars coach Willie Desjardins said. “When I look at how guys have worked, he’s worked so hard to be in the lineup and you just want to reward that.”

Desjardins said he wasn’t aware if Button had played forward before.

“I just kind of threw him up there,” Desjardins said. “It was either there or out of the lineup. Most guys would rather take where ever then out of the lineup.”

While the line didn’t score, it was very good defensively and had a couple nice chances. Desjardins also said he was impressed with Stransky’s performance in the victory.

Button’s spot on the wing could possibly be a negative reflection on rookie forward Brock Montgomery, who was the extra skater in warm-ups.

Montgomery was the only healthy forward scratch and if not for injuries to Taylor Vause, Toby Petersen and Scott Glennie, he’d likely be in the assigned to the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads.

Montgomery has had hard time cracking the lineup this season. After playing in three of Texas first seven games this season he was sent down to Idaho and played 21 games.

Following a call-up to Texas he has played in one of the Stars six games.

Tonight’s lines:

McKenzie-Morin-Sceviour
Wathier-Mueller-Ranford
Heddden-Dowling-Ritchie
Button-Peters-Stransky

Oleksiak-Wrenn
Jokipakka-Gaunce
Labrie-Fortunus

Nilstorp
Robinson

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