Stars fall to Chicago Wolves, fail to make up ground in playoff race


The Stars continued their struggles with coming back from deficits on Friday night, dropping a 4-1 decision to the Chicago Wolves at HEB Center.

Forward Michael Mersch scored the only Stars goal in the early parts of the first period, while Texas starter Landon Bow made 23 saves on 26 shots against in the losing effort. 

The Stars are now 2-21-2-0 when trailing after two periods of play.

Texas fell to 32-28-4-3 with 71 points, one behind the Rockford IceHogs for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division with just nine games remaining. Rockford, however, lost on Friday to the Milwaukee Admirals, so the Stars did not lose any ground in the playoff push.

"We were just trying to generate offense, but they've got a good team and a really good back end," Stars captain Justin Dowling said. "I thought we had our chances tonight, but give credit to them, they played well."

The Wolves opened the scoring on the power play when defenseman Dylan Coghlan ripped one from the blue line and through traffic to put Chicago on the board first.

The Stars would fight for the equalizer later in the first, and Mersch tapped in the rebound of a Dowling shot past the Chicago goalie to tie things up.

"Our best line was our most mature line," Texas head coach Derek Laxdal said. "They're showing their leadership and their will to push this team and drive this team."

Chicago scored again late in the opening period and then added to its lead when the Wolves tapped in a rebound off Bow's pad in the second period.

"We had a break down that probably shouldn't have happened. We missed an assignment, but that happens in any game," Laxdal said.

Texas had their chances in the middle frame but failed to convert, including a breakaway backhander by Denis Gurianov and a shot from in tight by Mersch that sailed over the net behind Dansk.

The Wolves added an empty-netter late in the third period.

"The difference in the game is that they buried their chances. They had a couple of lucky bounces, but we didn't bury our chances," Laxdal said. "We had some good looks, but they ended up winning."

Texas won just two of their eight games against the Wolves, the top-ranked team in the division, after tonight's loss in the last contest of their season series.

The Stars return to HEB Center on Saturday night to face the visiting Grand Rapids Griffins and hosts the Manitoba Moose on Wednesday. Texas travels to face the Iowa Wild in two games next weekend.

"Milwaukee did us a favor and beat Rockford so we didn't lose any ground, it's still the same situation," Dowling said. "We just have to regroup and make sure that, tomorrow, we just do our job."

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