Stars Lose to Griffins, 5-2Mar 4, 2017
Stars - 33
Griffins - 30
McNeill Scores in Home Debut for Texas
CEDAR PARK, Texas -- Newly acquired forward Mark McNeill scored in his home debut for the Texas Stars, but three goals in the third period earned the Grand Rapids Griffins a 5-2 win on Friday at H-E-B Center.
In the third meeting between Texas (25-27-1-2) and Grand Rapids (37-16-1-2) this season, Stars forward Cole Ully opened up scoring for the home team. His ninth goal of the season, which came 6:15 into the game, deflected a shot from the point by defenseman Nick Ebert past goaltender Jimmy Howard, who was sent to the Griffins by the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings for a conditioning assignment.
Evgeny Svechnikov then knotted the score for the Griffins with a power-play strike midway through the opening frame from the right circle, before Tyler Bertuzzi snapped home a centering feed from Svechnikov at the 15:52 mark to give Grand Rapids a 2-1 lead heading into the second.
“We did a lot of good things,” said Texas Stars Head Coach Derek Laxdal. “I thought we had a lot of good looks. In the first 30 minutes of the game we were probably the better team, but they kind of pushed back. They got the shot count back to almost even.”
The middle frame saw Texas even up the score when McNeill notched his first goal as a Star after being set up by Travis Morin's no-look centering feed from the left-wing corner at 4:28 of the second. It was also McNeill's seventh of the season.
“I had a lot of fun out there,” said McNeill. “This is a great rink to play in. The fans were really loud, and that makes it exciting. I thought we played a good game tonight, but a few mistakes in the third cost us.”
Griffins forward Eric Tangradi snapped the 2-2 tie off of the face-off 5:51 into the third period. The Stars continued to make a heavy push to even up the score, but a high-sticking penalty by McNeill late in the third gave Grand Rapids the opportunity to lengthen their lead when Matt Lorito set up Ben Street on a two-on-one counterattack for a power-play goal with 3:37 remaining in the game.
“It was a one goal game,” said McNeill. “They got that [third] goal off of the face-off. Then, I took a penalty, which can’t happen at the end of the game, and they capitalized on the power-play. It was just two things. If we take those away then we have an opportunity to tie things up late.”
The Stars continued to try and close-in on the Griffins, but an empty-net goal from Lorito put the nail in the coffin for Texas as they fell to Grand Rapids for the second time the season.
The two Western Conference teams will square off for the fourth and final meeting of the season on Wednesday 7:30 p.m. at H-E-B Center.
1. Bertuzzi (GR)
2. McNeill (TEX)
3. Ully (TEX)
W - Howard
L - Peters
Photo Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars