CEDAR PARK, Texas – Texas Stars rookie right wing Matej Stransky scored his seventh goal of the season, but Charlotte goaltender John Muse made 43 saves as Texas failed to oust the Checkers in a 3-1 loss Wednesday night in front of 4,910 fans at Cedar Park Center.
Just 5:39 into the first period, right wing Matej Stransky opened up the scoring for Texas. Chris Mueller took a wrist shot from the right circle that deflected off Checkers goalie John Muse and found its way to Stransky at the crease and the rookie buried his chance, scoring his seventh goal of the season, assisted by Mueller and Curtis McKenzie. Stransky nearly had his second goal of the night late in the period, but Muse stacked the pads to make a critical save.
Early in the second period, with the Stars’ leading 1-0, each team hit the post. First it was Checkers left wing Chris Terry who clanged an effort off the iron on a shorthanded bid. Then Texas reciprocated as rookie forward Chris Culligan, making his professional hockey debut, beat Muse with a hard wrist shot from the slot, but rang it off the left post, coming agonizingly close to scoring his first pro goal.
Charlotte forward Zach Boychuk tied the game at one at 5:39 of the second frame, taking a wrist shot from the right circle and lifting the puck over goalie Jack Campbell’s shoulder. Just 1:51 later the Checkers upped the scored to 2-1 when Philippe Cornet made a clever no-look pass to find Nicolas Blanchard at the top of the crease. Blanchard barely beat out a Texas defender to the puck, tapping it through the legs of Campbell at 7:30.
Texas out-shot Charlotte 15-5 in the final frame, but failed to make a comeback. Mueller thought he had tied the game with a little over eight minutes remaining, but video review confirmed that his effort did not cross the goal line, instead glancing off the top of Muse’s catching glove and finding the crossbar. With just 1:13 left in regulation, and Campbell on the bench for an extra attacker, Terry sealed the game with an empty net goal to give the Checkers a 3-1 win over the Stars.
John Muse (20-11-0) finished with 43 saves on 44 shots, earning his 20th win of the season in goal for Charlotte and being named the game’s first star. Jack Campbell (7-1-0) stopped 27-of-29 shots faced and took his first loss of the year in net for Texas. The Stars out-shot the Checkers 44-30 in the game and went 0-for-4 on the power play. Charlotte was 0-for-2 on the man-advantage.