CEDAR PARK — Quantity and quality.
Those were the Texas Stars’ offensive marching orders Saturday before a 4-3 loss against the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Create more chances against Grand Rapids goalie Tom McCollum – who shut out Texas on Friday – and create more chaos in front of the opposition net.
After firing 48 shots, it’s fair to say Texas had the quantity. McCollum had a little more quality as Grand Rapids completed a weekend sweep against Texas.
“I thought tonight Tommy McCollum had to be our best player to give us the win,” Griffins coach Jeff Blashill said. “This Texas team is a real good team that’s going to be a battle as we continue down the stretch.”
Travis Morin’s reaction with nine minutes remaining backed up Blashill’s comments.
The reigning AHL MVP picked up a loose rebound, took a stride to his right, and seemingly fired home his 19th goal of the season. Instead it was somehow smothered by McCollum’s 6-foot-2 frame, which was moving right to left.
Instead of celebrating with his signature leg kick or fist pump, Morin looked skyward.
“The goalie was getting kind of lucky; I don’t know what it was,” Stars forward Gemel Smith said. “We were getting shots to the net; it just wouldn’t go in. Tough one for us. Bad luck.”
The larcenous save came three minutes after Grand Rapids had built a 4-2 lead on back-to-back goals by Andy Miele and Jeff Hoggan.
Miele scored on a deflection 3:11 into the third period, and Hoggan scored the eventual winner five minutes later, after driving down the right side of the ice.
Texas cut into the lead on a point blast by Jamie Oleksiak with 9:23 remaining.
After that Texas had a power play and a lengthy chance with the goalie pulled, but McCollum was able to shut down each opportunity.
Texas entered the third period tied at 2-2 because of its fourth line of Kevin Henderson, Smith and Matej Stransky.
After an early goal by Louis-Marc Aubry, Smith tied the game on a nearly impossible angle that he banked off McCollum’s left hip.
Smith later set up Henderson for a one-timer midway through the second period.