CLEVELAND, OH — Cristopher Nilstorp stopped 32-of-33 shots faced, while Mike Hedden and rookie Curtis McKenzie each scored power play goals, leading the Texas Stars to a 2-1 win over the Lake Erie Monsters Tuesday morning at Quicken Loans Arena.
In spite of a high tempo from both teams to open the game, Texas was held without a shot on goal for the first 13 minutes of play and had to kill off two Lake Erie power plays. Then Garrett Meurs took a tripping penalty and the Stars capitalized with a power play goal from Mike Hedden, assisted by Derek Meech and Justin Dowling at 15:12. Hedden received a pass at the bottom of the right circle and slipped a shot low through the pads of goaltender Calvin Pickard for his 20th goal of the season, which is a new AHL career high for the Stars’ left wing. Late in the frame Meurs made up for his penalty by drawing Lake Erie level, skating swiftly down the left wing, turning the corner on defenseman Maxime Fortunus and beating Texas goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp low through the pads at 18:47.
Two penalties early in the second period found the Stars forced to kill out a Monsters’ five-on-three power play, which they did so skillfully. Just after the midpoint of the stanza, it was Texas’ turn for a two-man advantage. The Stars were unable to score on the five-on-three, but did cash in just seconds after the power play became five-on-four. At 12:57 of the second period, rookie Curtis McKenzie was parked at the top of the crease and was deftly about to bunt the puck out of mid-air with the shaft of his stick. Assisted by Colton Sceviour and Travis Morin, the goal was McKenzie’s 19th of the season and put Texas ahead 2-1.
Nilstorp was the shining star in the third period, turning aside 11 more Lake Erie shots. His best save of the period, and the game, came midway through the frame when he slid from left-to-right and made a dazzling right pad save to thwart a back-door one-timer by Mike Sgarbossa. The Monsters would have several more chances, including more power play time, but Texas shut the door for a 2-1 road win.
Cristopher Nilstorp was named the first star of the game, stopping 32-of-33 shots to record his 20th victory in goal for Texas, setting a new AHL career-high for wins. Calvin Pickard made 21 saves on 23 shots and took the loss in net for Lake Erie. The Monsters out-shot the Stars 33-23 in the game, but were held 0-for-6 on the power play, while Texas went 2-for-7 with the man-advantage.