CEDAR PARK — Six months ago, the Texas Stars were the best team in the AHL with the game on the line and turned overtime excellence into a Calder Cup Championship.
So far, the championship defense hasn’t gone so well in do-or-die situations.
Texas dropped its seventh straight game – a franchise record for futility – and fell to 1-5 in overtime in a 3-2 loss to the Oklahoma City Barons on Wednesday.
“Sometimes when you’re in a slump that’s the way things will happen,” Stars captain Maxime Fortunus said. “All in all, I think we played a pretty game. But that’s where we learn playing good is not good enough.”
It was an ugly — possibly illegal — goal that beat Texas on Wednesday: A seemingly errant pass kicked off Matthew Ford’s skate and past Stars goalie Jussi Rynnas.
“We just looked at the video. It was a distinct kicking motion,” Stars coach Derek Laxdal said. “It should have been disallowed, but they decided to not review it and there’s nothing we can do.”
While Laxdal was upset with the referees on the game-winner, he was also upset with his team after it blew a 2-0 lead.
Travis Morin had given Texas the 2-0 lead 7:40 into the third period, but Andrew Miller jammed home a rebound four minutes later and Iiro Pakarinen beat Rynnas with a wrist shot with 4:38 remaining to tie the game.
“If you look at the first two goals, we had a couple breakdowns,” Laxdal said. “When we get up 2-0 in our building, we’ve got to be able to seal the game.”
Rynnas helped Texas weather an early barrage as the teams remained deadlocked after the first period. The big Finn stopped 13 shots in the opening period, including five on an early power play by Oklahoma City.
He also got some help from Radek Faksa and Curtis McKenzie, who laid out to block shots during scrambles in the period.
Morin had Texas’ best chance in the period when he was sprung on an apparent breakaway, but Oklahoma City’s Curtis Hamilton backtracked to poke check the puck away at the last second.
Mike Dalhuisen fought with Kale Kessy — Oklahoma City’s bouncer on skates with 55 penalty minutes in 14 games — late in the first period. A defenseman by trade, Dalhuisen was in the lineup as a forward Wednesday after Laxdal said he earned extra ice time.
Texas turned up the offensive heat in the second period and fired 17 shots at goalie Laurent Brossoit.
Brossoit, 21, was stellar on a pair of Texas power plays — denying Greg Rallo in tight twice — before he was beaten on Justin Dowling’s dash through the Oklahoma City defense.
Dowling carried the puck into the Barons’ zone before executing a nifty toe drag, then unleashed a quick backhand that slipped past Brossoit for his fifth goal of the season.
Texas doubled up its lead 7:40 into third period when Morin one-timed a pass from Brendan Ranford past Brossoit for his eight goal of the season.
The insurance goal was necessary as Oklahoma City battled back to tie the game and force overtime.