Taylor Peters wasn’t expected to play in the Texas Stars’ 5-1 victory over the Oklahoma City Barons on Wednesday night.
While Gemel Smith practiced on the fourth line in the morning skate, Peters was the odd man out and did extra work with assistant coach Karl Taylor after practice ended — usually an indicator of a healthy scratch.
But once warm-ups started in the evening, Peters was on the ice and played a crucial role as Texas found some of the depth scoring coach Derek Laxdal had been looking for this season.
“I got a text from Karl Taylor this afternoon saying that one of our guys had gone down with sickness,” Peters said. “It was my spot to fill … you got to be ready to play. We don’t get too much ice time, but we did a lot. So it was a bit more taxing but I was able to battle through it.”
The fourth line of Peters, Jesse Root, and Branden Troock entered the game with zero combined goals. But they were on the ice for two on Wednesday, both of which were set up by key face-off wins from Peters.
The unexpected offense, combined with a pair of goals from Greg Rallo and 34 saves by Anders Lindback, helped Texas win back-to-back games for the first time since a pair of wins against the Toronto Marlies and Charlotte Checkers in early November.
Texas started slow but capitalized on back-to-back shots in the final five minutes of the first period.
Rallo scored on Texas’ first power play opportunity with 4:31 remaining in the period when he corralled a rebound and lifted it past Oklahoma City goalie Richard Bachman.
The fourth line then immediately went to work and scored 22 seconds later.
Peters won the center ice face-off to spring Troock on a rush. Troock’s initial shot missed the net, but Peters regained possession and fired a pass to Root who scored his first AHL goal.
The fourth line then set up another unlikely goal scorer early in the second period.
Peters won the face-off and Root sent a pass to Scott Valentine who set up his defensive partner William Wrenn for a one-timer. Wrenn’s shot only hovered about three inches off the ice, but Bachman couldn’t track the puck since Peters screened him after winning the face off.
Rallo added his second goal of the game three minutes later on a one-timer from the left face-off dot. It was Rallo’s 50th career goal as a Star.
Oklahoma City finally countered when Ryan Hamilton scored on a rebound late in the second period.
It was the only chance to beat Lindback on Wednesday and the goaltender continued his stellar play after getting sent down by the Dallas Stars last Thursday. Since the send down Lindback has started three straight games and stopped 93 of 98 total shots.
Justin Dowling added an insurance goal early in the third period for Texas when he scored on a rebound.