Texas celebrates the game-winning goal in overtime against Oklahoma City. (Photo by Rob Ferguson/Oklahoma City Barons)
OKLAHOMA CITY – Brendan Ranford was due.
The rookie hit the crossbar in Game 1 and then hit the post twice in regulation of Game 2.
Finally, in overtime of Game 2, his luck changed and Ranford tucked home the game-winning goal on a wraparound 15 minutes, 4 seconds into the extra period, giving Texas a 3-2 win and 2-0 lead in the series.
“It’s nice, it’s a really nice feeling,” Ranford said. “They were coming hard. They played two hard games … somehow we came out with two wins. It was a very good team effort, and our goalies were unbelievable.”
While Ranford passed off the chance to celebrate, his teammates heaped praise on the rookie who was checked hard, was speared late in the second period and had a bit of bad puck luck.
“It was really nice to see him get rewarded,” Travis Morin said. “We kind of joked about it going off for overtime, saying, ‘You (are) due buddy, just keep working.’ … he worked hard there, that’s a great play.”
“It was amazing, not just because we won the game and we’re up 2-0,” Jack Campbell said. “(Ranford) was out there battling. He took a hard spill in the third and he’s got some serious character.”
Ranford’s character was tested throughout the game Saturday.
Oklahoma City’s checking line of Ben Eager, Will Acton, and Curtis Hamilton hounded Ranford, Morin, and Curtis McKenzie all evening. In the first period, it seemed to get to the younger players when McKenzie and Eager traded blows, but the group rebounded and scored all three goals.
Morin scored the first two goals for Texas, in AHL-MVP fashion.
Trailing 1-0 after a first-period tally by Roman Horak, Morin scored on the power play with 17.2 seconds remaining in the second period.
Morin won the face-off, drove past Acton and fired a shot over Richard Bachman’s glove 2.8 seconds into the power play.
Oklahoma City regained the lead 8:03 remaining, but Morin struck again with 39.8 seconds remaining on a de facto power play.
Taylor Peters and Jack Combs were sent to the box, setting up 4-on-4 situation. Texas then pulled Jack Campbell with 1:15 remaining to go on a 5-on-4 advantage.
“You got to pull him eventually. Giving you a 5-on-4 is more like a power play, gives you more space,” Morin said.
That extra space paid off.
Justin Dowling held the puck in the right face-off circle, hesitated with extra time and fired a seeing-eye pass to Morin who beat Bachman on the glove side.
The goal gave Campbell a chance to win his professional playoff debut.
Campbell stopped 38 of 40 shots, including 11 in overtime.
“I’ve been waiting for this for a while,” Campbell said. “I’ve been waiting to get in and help the team. Obviously its based on wins and losses … it was just great to be in there and see the teams play so well.”
Game 3 is Wednesday at the Cedar Park Center. Cristopher Nilstorp will likely start as Stars coach Willie Desjardins continues his goalie rotation.