With thanksgiving out of the way, the Texas Stars pre-game introduction video adopted a holiday motif on the busiest shopping day of the year.
Familiar red and green Christmas hues framed highlights and player introductions, while a holiday medley blasted throughout the Cedar Park Center.
During the game the Stars scratched a couple things off their holiday wish list. But they still couldn’t unwrap the biggest gift and end a franchise-record losing streak in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Oklahoma City Barons.
The anemic power play finally scored, the defense stopped allowing 30-plus shots, and the penalty kill was perfect.
“I thought we outplayed them for 64 minutes, plain and simple,” Stars coach Derek Laxdal said. “We deserved a better fate … when things aren’t going your way it seems to snowball.
“It shows you how hard it is to win games, we’ve got guys missing empty nets in overtime and then they come down an score on the second shot,” Laxdal continued. “You think you’re at the bottom, than the bottom gets a little bit deeper.”
Barons goalie Richard Bachman — part of the Stars organization from 2009 to 2013 — helped pile a little bit of dirt on his old team Friday.
The 27-year-old goaltender stopped 34 of the 35 shots thrown away, none bigger than a sprawling save on Brendan Ranford in overtime where he covered the puck on the goal line.
“The story of the night was Bachman,” Barons coach Todd Nelson said. “Bachman played really strong tonight. The goal that they did score on him, he even got across and it just got through his seven-hole. Actually, he was better than really strong. He was fantastic.”
Parts of Texas’ game were close to fantastic for the first time in weeks.
The penalty kill, which had been problematic before the current home stand, was excellent. On five power plays Oklahoma City only had six shots, including a shot-less man advantage late in the game.
On the power play Texas finally scored and the man advantage looked better after an 0-for-3 first period. Texas finally generated more shots and the goal came after a shot from Derek Meech that kicked off a Barons defender.
“That was a bit of a relief,” Meech said. “You see how we got that goal on the power play and it’s got to be goals like that. It’s not a pretty game all the time. A deflection off a skate onto a stick and into the back of the net … we’ve just got to put pucks at the net and try and get pucks past the goal line.”
Defensively the Stars stifled Oklahoma City.
The Barons finished with 23 shots — only seven combined in the third period and overtime – and Stars goalie Jussi Rynnas didn’t have to make any spectacular saves in regulation.
While the final score was frustrating, both coaches agreed a similar effort from Texas against the Iowa Wild on Saturday would yield positive results.
“Let’s face it, they’re going through a tough time,” Nelson said. “The hockey gods aren’t smiling on them right now. But they are playing good hockey. If they keep playing like that they’re going to win a lot of games.”