TEXAS STARS

Morin scores in OT to lift Stars over Griffins

The Stars two games against the San Antonio Rampage Friday and Saturday

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Travis Morin didn’t do what he wanted to do on his first breakaway. His second try was more successful. 

The veteran forward scored midway through overtime, handing the playoff-bound Stars a 3-2 overtime win against the Grand Rapids Griffins Wednesday night in the penultimate regular season home game. 

“(Gavin Bayreuther) knocked down a cross-seam pass and I just kind of thought ‘I’m going,’” Morin said. “I noticed the goalie dropped his glove a little bit and I just found some yet.”

The goal was Morin’s 10th of the year and he has 12 points in the last 14 games. Bayreuther’s assist extended his point streak to six games. 

Mike McKenna saved 25 of the 27 shots he saw, winning his 16th game of the AHL season and first since returning from an extended stint in the NHL. 

“Grand Rapids showed they could they could push back pretty quick and we managed well to get through that,” Stars head coach Derek Laxdal said. “We threw a little bit different lineup out there trying to rest some guys and play some young guys. We did a good job managing the game.”

The roster was littered with youth as the team rotates its lineup with the playoffs on the horizon. Joel L’Eserance made his sixth appearance, Robbie Payne hit the ice for the third time this year and Tony Calderone made his professional debut. 

“(Calderone) has some sneaky speed,” Laxdal said. “We see him shoot the puck well in practice and he got a couple looks tonight, he just didn’t get a shot off. For a guy like him, it’s going to take 15-20 games to really make an evaluation.”

After a lackluster first period, the game picked up steam in the second. 

Denis Gurianov accelerated up the middle less than 10 minutes into the period and went five-hole for the game’s opening goal. Greg Rallo doubled the lead with a rocket from the right side three minutes later. 

Moments after Grand Rapids a goal waived off for goalie interference, the Griffins scored with a shot from the left circle. A snipe from the point right off a face-off with five minutes left in the period tied the game. 

The shots were even at nine apiece during a scoreless third period before Morin’s game-winner less than two minutes into overtime. 

“We’re comfortable playing in the third period and tight games,” Morin said. “It’s something we’ve been doing all year. We’ve been finding ways to get some points in overtimes and shootouts and tonight was just another night like that.”

Texas wraps up the regular season with a pair of games against San Antonio. The Stars travel to face the rampage Friday at 7:30 p.m. before closing out the regular season at home Saturday at 7 p.m.

Their playoff opponent is yet to be determined, but the postseason will begin late next week. 

“The guys are playing with their minds free of worry,” Laxdal said. “It’s something we’ve tried to instill in our guys a couple weeks ago because we had a tough push. You bend but you don’t break. That’s been our group all year and that’s something we’re going to have to rely upon in the playoffs.”

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