Texas had been used to playing tight games for more than a week and finally got a result go in its favor.
The Stars held on for a 2-1 win against the San Antonio Rampage Saturday night at HEB Center, snapping their five-game losing streak and getting back above .500 in the process.
“Every game is huge for us down the stretch,” head coach Derek Laxdal said. “We’re trying to stay with the pack and every point is huge. Tonight we played a full 60 minutes and I like the response from our team after a Friday loss.”
Texas lost the first game of the home-and-home Friday night in San Antonio, falling 3-2 after giving up two goals in the third period.
Ethan Werek scored his fourth goal of the season in the first period on Saturday and Nick Ebert scored the game-winner in the third. Ebert, Werek, Gemel Smith and Mike McMurtry each had assists and Travis Morin had his six-game point streak come to an end.
“It was nice to get that goal,” Ebert said. “Whether it was late or early, I did my job. We lost a few in a row and we were frustrated. We had to regroup and we played a tough game tonight. We bring that intensity and we can be a special team.”
The Stars acquired defenseman Justin Hache and goalie Justin Peters from the Tuscon Roadrunners earlier this week and Peters made 22 saves in his home debut.
Hache was quick to show his aggressiveness in his first on-ice action with the team, too. He was handed a five-minute major for fighting after dropping Rampage defenseman Mason Geertsen towards the end of the first period.
Werek gave the Stars the lead with less than four minutes left in the first when he slotted home a pinpoint pass from McMurtry, playing in his first game since being assigned from the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads on Thursday.
San Antonio leveled the game with under five minutes to go in the second period as Felix Girard intercepted a pass right after a power play and scored on the breakaway.
But it was Ebert’s wrist shot from near the blue line with less than three minutes left in the game that was the decider. The Rampage pulled their goalie and even had a 6-on-4 after an Andrew Bodnarchuk hooking call with 15 seconds left, but Peters and the defense held on.
“We made some great adjustments with our power play,” Laxdal said. “We’re creating chances, we’ve just got to bury them. We need to focus on offense because that’s down. We need to manufacture some more goal by throwing pucks on the net.”
The Stars have nearly a week off before returning to the HEB Center for a two-game series against the Tucson Roadrunners next Friday and Saturday night, Hache and Peters’ former AHL team.
“These last 32 games are playoff games because we’ve put ourselves in that position,” Ebert said. “We slipped under .500 and now we’re just north of that. We have to play every game like it’s make or break."