CEDAR PARK — The look said it all.
Whistled for boarding 1:49 into the second period, Jesse Blacker stared down referee Andy Thackabary as he was sent to the box and took a seat next to Cory Kane, giving the Bakersfield Condors a brief 5-on-3 power play.
Ten seconds later Brad Hunt scored, a second before Kane was set to leave the box, giving the Condors what should have been a commanding two-goal lead.
“It stung a little extra, since they still had the 5-on-4,” Devin Shore said. “But once a goal gets scored there’s not much more you can do about it. I know it’s cliche, but all you can do is look forward to the next shift.”
That’s when something clicked and the Stars roared back for a 5-4 victory, sparked by a pair of goals while Blacker was still in the box.
“Any time you take a penalty you’re hoping that happens,” Blacker said. “For me, I was lucky my teammates bailed me out and got a couple. Definitely happy stepping out of the box.”
First Derek Hulak baffled Condors goalie Laurent Brossoit with a knuckling shot, pumping some life back into the building.
Then Texas tied the game just as the penalty expired. It didn’t officially count as a shorthanded goal since the penalty had expired, but Blacker hadn’t joined the play — effectively turning him into an extra celebrator on the ice.
On the goal Shore drove hard to the net and his initial shot rebounded out to Stephen Johns, who slammed home the rebound to tie the game.
“That was a big goal for us,” Blacker said. “It definitely changed the momentum.”
The back-to-back goals visibly shook Brossoit’s confidence.
The Bakersfield goalie struggled controlling rebounds for the remainder of the period, and shouldn’t have been beat by Branden Troock’s wrist shot that gave Texas it’s first lead of the night with just over three minutes remaining in the middle stanza.
Texas added an all-important insurance goal 1:44 into the third period.
Travis Morin turned a broken play into highlight reel finish, slipping his third goal of the season past Brossoit’s flailing blocker hand.
It stood up as the game-winner after Josh Winquist scored with 7:26 remaining cutting the lead to 5-4.
Earlier a couple well-known Stars killers from their days in Oklahoma City helped the Condors take a 2-1 lead in the first period.
First, Hunt turned Esa Lindell inside out on the power play and then snapped a wrister past Maxime Lagace.
Matej Stransky countered for Texas, but Ryan Hamilton finished off a backdoor pass from Matthew Ford. Hamilton, the Condors captain, was left wide open by the right face-off circle and snuck behind Johns to fire home his third goal of the season.
Lagace finished with 30 saves on 34 shots in the victory.