Desrosiers' strong week helps Texas Stars keep pace in playoff race
The goaltender shines with a 29-save shutout and 39-save effort in an OT win as Texas takes two of three gamesby Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge
The Texas Stars won two of three games last week as they continue to knock on the door of the fourth and final playoff spot in the AHL's Central Division.
Texas (26-21-5) has won three of its last four games and is one point behind fourth-place Rockford with two games in hand. Goaltender Philippe Desrosiers, who has taken over the net with Landon Bow in the NHL, had a strong week for the Stars, coming up big in both their victories, including a 29-save shutout in Cedar Park and then a 39-save effort in a 2-1 overtime win as the team opened a four-game road trip.
Here is the latest on the AHL affiliate of the Dallas Stars.
Friday, February 15: Texas 2, Tucson 0
Desrosiers stopped 29 shots for his first shutout of the season and second of his AHL career as Texas defeated Tucson, 2-0, Friday in Cedar Park.
Texas won consecutive games for the first time since stringing together three straight wins Jan. 9-12.
Robbie Payne scored the only goal Desrosiers and the Stars would need at 7:53 of the second period. Michael Mersch added an insurance goal in the third period.
Saturday, February 16: Tucson 4, Texas 1
Texas had to settle for a split in its weekend series with Tucson, falling 4-1 to the Roadrunners Saturday night at H-E-B Center in Cedar Park.
Justin Dowling scored the lone goal for the Stars, tallying at the six-minute mark of the first period to tie the game 1-1. But the Roadrunners scored with 37 seconds left in the second period to take a 2-1 lead and then tacked on two more goals in the third.
Desrosiers got the start in goal and stopped 22 of 26 shots.
Tuesday, February 19: Texas 2, Iowa 1 (OT)
Desrosiers stopped 39 of 40 shots, and Brad McClure scored 3:42 into overtime as the Texas Stars won, 2-1, at Iowa on Tuesday for their third victory in the last four games.
Dowling staked the Stars to a 1-0 lead with 34 seconds left in the first period with a power-play goal. Iowa tied the game early in the second. It stayed a 1-1 game throughout the rest of regulation, thanks to Desrosiers and the Wild netminder Kappo Kahkonen.
McClure finally broke through in overtime, putting a shot on net off the rush and then scoring on his own rebound for his career AHL goal.
Prospect spotlight and notables
In his last eight appearances for Texas, Desrosiers has a 1.96 goals against average and .937 save percentage, stopping 223 of 238 shots. For the season, Desrosiers is 6-8-0 with a 2.52 goals against average and. .912 save percentage.
Forward Denis Gurianov picked up one assist and 17 shots on goal in his first three games back in Texas after being assigned to the AHL from Dallas. Gurianov has 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists) in 36 AHL games. The 35 points are an AHL career high for Gurianov, who tallied 34 points (19 goals, 15 assists) in 72 games with Texas last season.
After going 18 games without scoring a goal, Dowling has scored in the last two games.
Mersch has tallied seven points (four goals, three assists) in his last eight games.
Despite not playing in the last three games for Texas due to his call up to the NHL, center Joel L'Esperance is still tied for the AHL lead in goal scoring with 27 in 49 games.
With Tuesday's win in Iowa, Texas has won consecutive road games for the first time this season since they won three straight on the road from Nov. 11-Nov. 30.
Texas is 22-11-5 within the Central Division this season.
Here is the Texas lineup from the last game.
Michael Mersch - Justin Dowling - Denis Gurianov
Nick Caamano - Travis Morin - Erik Condra
Adam Mascherin - Colton Hargrove - Tony Calderone
Spencer Naas - Robbie Payne - Brad McClure
Gavin Bayreuther - Joel Hanley
Dillon Heatherington - Ben Gleason
John Nyberg - Shane Hanna
Thursday, Feb. 21, Texas at Chicago, 11 a.m.
Friday, Feb. 22, Texas at Grand Rapids, 6 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 24, Texas at Chicago, 3 p.m.
Idaho Steelheads (ECHL)
The Idaho Steelheads went 2-0-1 last week to improve to 31-17-4 on the season. Idaho currently ranks third in the ECHL's Mountain Division. Idaho hosts Tulsa, which is in second place in the Mountain Division, for a three-game series this week.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Mark Stepneski has covered the Stars for DallasStars.com since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.