The last time Texas and San Antonio faced off, it was a one-sided affair. Wednesday night was a different story.
Matt Mangene’s knuckling backhander with six minutes left in the third period was the difference as the Stars beat the Rampage 4-3 at the HEB Center for their first win in the rivalry this season.
“I like the way we responded,” Stars head coach Derek Laxdal said. “Every time they scored, we battled back and we had really good composure in the third. (Goalie Landon) Bow came up big when we needed him.”
Curtis McKenzie scored his team-leading seventh and eighth goals on the season. Bow won his third straight game, stopping 26 of 30 shots.
Travis Morin extended his point streak to four games with a pair of assists. Justin Dowling finished with two assists and Jason Dickinson, who was reassigned from the NHL earlier Wednesday, had one.
Texas has won three of its last four, most recently splitting a pair of home games against defending Calder Cup Champions Grand Rapids Griffins last weekend. The Stars earned their first win against their I-35 rivals, bringing the season series against the Rampage to 1-2-0-1.
San Antonio rolled the when the teams last met on Oct. 21, scoring five goals in the second period, forcing Laxdal to pull Bow and winning the game 6-2, the most lopsided loss of the season for Texas.
“Last time I played against (San Antonio), safe to say it was terrible,” Bow said. “That’s how hockey is sometimes. Today we came out and had a good day. These aren’t the games we like to lose because they’re so close to us and we play them so many times.”
San Antonio scored just 28 seconds after the opening puck drop when Felix Girard jumped on a rebound. But McKenzie evened the score with Travis Morin’s pinpoint pass just outside the Rampage crease.
The Rampage took a one-goal lead twice in the second period, but both times the Stars answered back.
McKenzie scored his second power-play goal almost 10 minutes into the frame with Morin and Justin Dowling again setting him up from his spot right in front of the net. Hintz scored on a breakaway with less than 30 seconds left in the period.
“We changed it up a couple weeks ago and went with more of a veteran unit on the power play,” Laxdal said. “They’ve responded. I like their effort tonight. For us to win on sleepy Wednesday is a good two points for the group.
The Stars hit the road for its next seven games beginning with a 7 p.m. showdown with San Antonio on Saturday. They then tour the Midwest, stopping in Illinois, Ohio and Michigan before returning home against the Iowa Wild on Dec. 5.
“We’re growing as a team,” McKenzie said. “We have a lot of skill and a lot of guys that love to play that way. It’s just a matter of doing that and playing the system the coaches are installing. It’s coming and I think we have a great team here.”