CEDAR PARK, Texas – Chris Mueller and rookie Curtis McKenzie each tallied two point and rookie Matej Stransky came through with the decisive goal in the seventh round of the shootout as the Texas Stars outlast the Charlotte Checkers 3-2 Saturday night in front of a sell-out crowd of 6,863 fans at Cedar Park Center.
The first period was scoreless, but Texas did have a goal disallowed late in the frame. Rookie Brett Ritchie’s shot off a rebound into the gaping net was waived off by the referee after he deemed that Mike Hedden had interfered with Checkers goalie Justin Peters.
The Stars got on the board at 8:31 of the second period when rookie Curtis McKenzie sent a pass from behind the net that was touched by Chris Mueller and found its way to Colton Sceviour, who buried it past Peters to put Texas up 1-0. The Checkers answered just 64 seconds later as a streaking Philippe Cornet collected a cross-ice pass from Ryan Murphy and fired a shot that bounced off the top of the catching glove of a sprawling Cristopher Nilstorp and in to tie the game at one. Tempers flared with 14.6 seconds left in the period and amidst the 10-player scrum behind the Checkers net, Cameron Gaunce was assessed a match penalty for slew footing, handing Charlotte a five-minute major power play.
Texas nearly killed off the major penalty, but the Checkers pulled ahead at 4:22 of the third. With just 24 seconds left on the power play, Mark Flood ripped a slap shot from the point that snuck past a screened Nilstorp for a 2-1 Charlotte lead. Texas knotted things up when McKenzie directed the rebound of a Maxime Fortunus shot to Mueller on the left side of the goal where he launched a shot into the open net, sending the game into overtime. It was Mueller’s 13th power play goal of the season, his 23rd goal of the year, at 13:04.
After a scoreless overtime, the game headed to a shootout. Each team scored three times in the first six rounds; Dustin Jeffrey, Sceviour and Brendan Ranford for Texas and Aaron Palushaj, Chris Terry and Brody Sutter for Charlotte. In the seventh round, Nilstorp denied Checkers’ captain Brett Sutter, setting up rookie Matej Stransky to clinch the victory with a beautiful deke to give the Stars a 3-2 win.
Cristopher Nilstorp stopped 34-of-36 shots faced in regulation and overtime, as well as turning aside 4-of-7 in the shootout, to earn his 19th win of the season. Charlotte goalie Justin Peters, starting his first game since opening night, also had 34 saves on 36 shots and stopped 3-of-7 in the shootout, getting his first loss of the year. The Stars out-shot the Checkers 37-36 and went 2-for-3 on the power play, while Charlotte was 1-for-3 with the man-advantage.