03/25/2011 8:44 PM
GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 3 at Texas Stars 5
March 25, 2011
CEDAR PARK, Texas – A fast start for the Grand Rapids Griffins proved not enough on Friday night, as the Texas Stars rallied with five unanswered goals to hand the Griffins a 5-3 loss at the Cedar Park Center.
The Griffins (34-28-2-8) opened up a critical stretch of the season which saw them play the first game of five straight, as well as seven of their final eight, away from the friendly confines of Van Andel Arena. It was also the first of back-to-back games against Texas (38-24-4-6), with the second coming Saturday at 8 p.m. The loss dropped Grand Rapids into a three-way tie for third place in the North Division with Hamilton and Toronto at 80 points.
Cory Emmerton opened the scoring at 10:49 of the first period with his 11th tally on the season. After killing a Stars powerplay, the Griffins created several good scoring chances one after another before finally capitalizing. Derek Meech took a shot from the blue line that took a strange bounce in front of the net and landed right on the stick of a waiting Emmerton, who backhanded the puck past Stars' goaltender Richard Bachman.
Some strong forechecking saw the Griffins take a two-goal lead at the 6:32 mark of the second period. Mike Hedden picked up a loose puck and centered a pass to Joakim Andersson. Andersson found the back of the net with a wrist shot for his sixth goal of the season. The assist on the play was Hedden's first point as a Griffin in his third appearance.
Jamie Tardif extended the lead to 3-0 at 13:26 of the second frame. His 27th goal on the season came as the result of a two-on-one rush with Andersson, in which the captain rifled a low wrist shot from the slot that caught Bachman in a bad position and gave the Griffins their league-leading 13th shorthanded goal of the season.
The shorthanded goal seemed to wake up the Stars, who cut the lead to 3-2 before the second period ended. Just one second after the Stars' powerplay ended, Colton Sceviour took a shot from an impossible angle that beat Jordan Pearce over the shoulder and found the top corner. The Stars struck again at 18:19 of the period, as Sceviour spun at the side of the Griffins' net and centered pass to Greg Rallo, who chipped the puck over the glove hand of Pearce for his team-leading 25th goal of the season.
Pearce came up with a big save on a chance in close in the third period's first minute, but he had no answer for an Aaron Gagnon breakaway at 1:15. The former Griffin found himself on a clear breakaway from center ice and slid a backhander between the legs of Pearce to knot the game at three.
The Stars took their first lead of the night at 11:26 after Mathieu Tousignant recorded his 10th goal on the season by sweeping a rebound off of a Maxime Fortunus shot past a sprawled Pearce. Just moments after Tardif saw his bid for his second shorthanded goal of the night ring off the crossbar, the Stars put the game just out of the Griffins' reach with Sceviour's second goal of the night at 15:57.
Bachman steered away just three shots from the Griffins in the final frame, giving him 17 saves on 20 shots for the night. Pearce was definitely the busier of the two netminders, stopping 33 shots in the loss.
Notes: Gustav Nyquist made his professional debut for Grand Rapids after signing his amateur tryout this afternoon. Nyquist just finished his junior season at the University of Maine and was also recently nominated for the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in college hockey for the second time in his career.
Three Stars: 1. TEX Sceviour (two goals, assist); 2. TEX Rallo (goal, assist); 3. TEX Tousignant (goal)