Stars Erase 5-1 Second Period Deficit; Sceviour Wins Game in Overtime
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Trailing 5-1 halfway through the game, the Texas Stars scored five unanswered goals to rallied for a stunning 6-5 win over the Oklahoma City Barons Tuesday night at Cox Convention Center. Chris Mueller paced the Stars with a hat trick and Colton Sceviour scored the game-winning goal on the power play.
Texas created several early chances in the opening frame, but were denied by some strong goaltending from Richard Bachman in the Barons’ net. Late in the period, Oklahoma City pulled in front when Curtis Hamilton redirected a centering feed from Ryan Martindale up over the glove of Stars goalie Cristopher Nilstorp and into the top left corner of the net at 15:23. A mere 23 seconds later it was 2-0 Barons as Derek Nesbitt’s shot from the left wall forced a big rebound off the left pad of Nilstorp and Will Acton one-timed the favorable bounce into the open side of the net before the Stars could recover.
Goals came fast and furious in the early stages of the second period. Acton stripped Brett Ritchie of the puck right above the Stars crease and caught Nilstorp off guard to score an unassisted shorthanded goal at 1:12. It was Acton’s second shorthanded goal of the season against Texas. The Stars responded on the same power play and got on the scoreboard when Maxime Fortunus and Travis Morin combined to setup Chris Muller for a power play goal at 2:23. The goal was Mueller’s team-leading eighth power play goal of the season and was Texas’ 41st power play goal of the year. The Stars earn another power play, but again the Barons caught them on a shorthanded rush. This time Tyler Pitlick raced in on a two-on-one and slid a pass over to Hamilton, who fired the puck home before Nilstorp could get across the crease at 6:11 to give the Barons a 4-1 lead. It was Oklahoma City’s second shorthanded goal of the night and fourth of the season; three of their four shorthanded goals this year have come at Cox Convention Center against Texas.
Another turnover in the defensive zone led to Oklahoma City’s largest lead of the game, when Derek Nesbitt pounced on an unattended puck in the slot and ripped it through traffic for a 5-1 lead at 11:47. Although Nilstorp could hardly be faulted on any of the goals allowed, he was pulled from the game and replaced by backup goaltender Josh Robinson. Just 47 seconds later Mike Hedden responded with his 11th goal of the year, taking a pass from Justin Dowling and ripping a slap shot that hit Bachman, but had too much power on it and rolled in. The Stars out-shot the Barons 18-8 in the second period, but were out-scored 3-2 in the frame and trailed 5-2 after 40 minutes.
Needing an early goal to grab momentum in the third period, Texas did just that as rookie Taylor Peters jammed home a pass from Matej Stransky at 1:15 for his third goal of the year, making the score 5-3. Five minutes later, Mueller cut the deficit to one with his second goal of the night, taking a crossing crease pass from Brett Ritchie and beating Bachman below his catching glove. As time began to run out on the Stars, they pulled Robinson for an extra attacker and the tactic worked. A Fortunus one-timer from the point was blocked in front, but during the ensuing goal-mouth scramble, Mueller got his stick on the puck and slammed it in to complete his hat trick and tie the game with 1:17 remaining in regulation.
Barons’ defenseman Taylor Fedun, who returned for his first game since missing the previous eight due to injury, took an ill-advised roughing penalty 19 seconds after Mueller’s game-tying goal, handing Texas a power play in the last minute of play. The Stars were unable to convert in regulation, but were successful when the advantage became four-on-three in overtime. Robinson made a long pass to find Travis Morin at the red line, who then slid the puck to Sceviour just outside the offensive blue line. Sceviour skated down the right wall, slipped away from former Texas Star Austin Fyten, drove the net and backhanded a shot the eluded Bachman and crossed the goal line for the game-winning power play goal 46 seconds into overtime. Both Morin and Robinson earned assists on Sceviour’s AHL-leading 21st goal of the season, which also equaled his single-season career best AHL goal total.
Josh Robinson stopped all seven shots he faced in 28:28 of relief to record his third win of the season in goal for Texas. Richard Bachman made 35 saves on 41 shots and suffered his ninth loss of the season in net for Oklahoma City. Cristopher Nilstorp, who played the first 31:47 for Texas, had 13 saves on 18 shots and finished with a no-decision.
Note: Texas finished the month of December with a record of 9-1-0-1 (19 pts.) to set a new franchise record for the best point percentage (0.864) of any December in club history. The team’s best point total in December was 20 points (8-3-2-2), accomplished in 2010.
The Stars continue their three-game road trip on January 2nd with their first game of the season against the Charlotte Checkers, a 6:00 p.m. CT faceoff at Time Warner Cable Arena. Texas will return home to face the Abbotsford Heat on Friday, January 10th with a 7:30 p.m. face off at Cedar Park Center. The January 10th game against the Heat is a $3 Draft Beer and $4 Robert Mondavi Private Selection Wine Night and is the Stars Cell Phone Dot giveaway. Pro-rated full and partial 2013-14 Texas Stars Season Tickets are on sale now. For more information on Texas Stars season tickets call (512) GO-STARS (467-8277) or visit www.TexasStarsHockey.com.
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Photo: Steve Christy / Oklahoma City Barons