Texas Stars “ruin a special night” in 6-5 loss to Rochester Americans

Mark Pysyk skates the puck up for Rochester while Curtis McKenzie fights off a check. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Mark Pysyk skates the puck up for Rochester while Curtis McKenzie fights off a check. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

CEDAR PARK — It was supposed to be a monumental night for the Texas Stars.

Two hours before the game, returning players were presented their 2014 Calder Cup Championship rings by Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill.

Dallas Stars owner Tom Gaglardi then dropped the ceremonial face-off and was in attendance for the first time since completing his acquisition of the AHL franchise from Hicks Cedar Park.

On top of that, Texas was playing a team farther down in the Western Conference standings and was receiving an added boost from Justin Dowling, who was making his return to the lineup for the first time since Dec. 26.

Unfortunately for Texas, Rochester ruined the evening in a 6-5 setback on the strength of a second-period comeback.

“I said to the guys after the game, ‘we ruined a special night,’” Stars coach Derek Laxdal said. “That should all be energy you can build off. We go out and lay an egg after we get the 4-1 (lead).”

Texas led 4-1 less than three minutes into the second period on a goal by Dowling, his second of the night. But Rochester charged back and Brayden Irwin, Mikhail Grigorenkno, and Jerome Ludic all scored in a span of 12 minutes to tie the game.

The response prompted Stars coach Derek Laxdal to replace Jussi Rynnas with Jack Campbell at the start of the third period.

Rynnas allowed four goals on 22 shots. Campbell didn’t fare much better in the third period and suffered the loss after allowing two goals on 11 shots.

Tim Schaller gave Rochester a 5-4 lead early in the period, while Travis Morin countered with 8:54 remaining to give Texas some added life.

Texas seemingly scored a go-ahead goal with four minutes remaining when Matej Stransky poked the puck into the net, however it was ruled that Americans goalie Andrey Makarov had covered the puck and the whistle had blown.

That bad break came back to hurt Texas when Johan Larsson scored the winning goal with 1:33 remaining. Larsson was able to corral a loose puck and fire it past Campbell’s left pad.

“I can be honest with you, the exact video I showed the other day of the mistake we made on a goal against Toronto, we did it on the sixth goal, exact,” Laxdal said. “We circle once, we circled twice. I’m not going to name the player, but it’s details that cost us the game.”

Texas pulled the goalie for an extra attacked but couldn’t generate a final game-tying chance.

Earlier, Dowling made an immediate impact in his return to the lineup and gave Texas a 1-0 lead 3:56 into the first period when his centering pass kicked off a Rochester defender and into the net.

The Americans countered midway through the period, but Travis Morin restored the Stars’ lead three minutes later when he scored his 500th career point on a wrist shot over Makarov’s left shoulder.

This story was originally published in the Austin American-Statesman.

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