The Stars’ trend of successful overtime games continued Wednesday night.
Matej Stransky scored halfway though the extra period and the Stars held on to beat the Tucson Roadrunners 4-3 and stay alive in the push for the playoffs. It’s Texas’ seventh win in eight overtime games this season.
“We need all the points we can get to keep this thing alive,” Stars head coach Derek Laxdal said. “Give our guys full credit. We’ve got a good opponent coming in and Stockton is right there. They’re a team we need catch so these next three games are huge.”
In addition to Stansky’s game-winning goal, Denis Gurianov, Ethan Werek, and Julius Honka, who has five points in the last six games, also scored for the Stars. Travis Morin and Brandon DeFazio each had two assists.
Texas opened the scoring two minutes into the second period when Werek hammered home a shot form right in front of the net after a nice pass from Dillon Heatherington.
The Stars doubled their lead less than a minute late while on the power play. Gavin Bayreuther, playing in just his third professional game since singing an amateur tryout agreement last Wednesday, tipped the puck out to Honka, who blasted it home from the blue line.
Tucson got a goal back towards the end of the period on Tyler Gaudet’s fourth goal of the season.
“We’d like to make it a little easier on ourselves as always and find a way to shut them down,” DeFazio said. “You live and you learn. We figured it out a little bit quicker than we did on the road trip. It’s just good to come out with a win.”
But Texas continued to push the pace in the final period. With 15 minutes left in the game, Gurianov scored his ninth goal of the year when he skillfully tipped in a pass from Morin. He played n his 700th AHL game and tallied his team-leading 48th point Wednesday night.
Again, the Roadrunners cut the lead down with a goal by Joe Whitney with just over seven minutes remaining. Tucson pulled their goalie and Jeremy Morin tied the game with 1:31 left in regulation.
“I wouldn’t call it complacency, I’d call it a push by the other team,” Laxdal said. “They’re battling for their playoff lives too. If you’re going to win these tight games late in the season, you just have to lock it down.”
The Stars continue their four-game home stand Friday at 7:30 p.m. when they host the Stockton Heat. The Pacific Division foes again face off Saturday at 7 p.m. and Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
If the playoffs started tomorrow, Texas would still be on the outside looking in. But the Stars still have a fighting chance and sit just percentage points behind the Bakersfield Condors for fourth place in the Pacific Division.
“You win tonight and we’re happy about that, but we still have to take it one game at a time,” DeFazio said. “It’s a daunting task and we understand that. You’ve just got to focus on what you can control. We’re not going to pack it in.”