Brett Ritchie’s goal 11:44 into overtime lifted the Texas Stars to a 3-2 victory over the Milwaukee Admirals in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal series at BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee Friday night.
Ritchie, Dallas’ second round pick (44th overall) in 2011, beat Milwaukee goaltender Magnus Hellberg with a wrist shot from the slot after taking a pass from Mike Hedden off the rush.
Kevin Connauton, who also assisted on the Ritchie goal, and Matt Fraser scored in regulation for Texas. Cristopher Nilstorp stopped 29 of 31 shots.
Game 2 of the best-of-five series is Saturday night in Milwaukee.
Milwaukee opened the scoring, cashing in on their first power play of the game. After Nilstorp made several sharp saves, Milwaukee’s Patrick Cehlin scored off a one-timer from the left circle at the 12:05 mark.
The Stars came close to tying in the final minute of the first, but Ritchie’s shot from the slot rattled off the post.
The Stars did get the equalizer about 30 seconds later when Travis Morin got to a loose puck off the rush, put it on net and Matt Fraser tipped it past Hellberg from close range with 15.6 seconds left in the first.
The Stars took a 2-1 lead by taking advantage of their third power play of the night. After a neutral zone faceoff, Connauton carried the puck into the Milwaukee zone and beat Hellberg with a shot from the left circle at 7:17 of the second period.
The Stars held Milwaukee to just one shot in the second, but got into penalty trouble in the third period and the Admirals capitalized to pull even.
The Admirals made it a 2-2 game with 12:49 left in regulation, scoring on a four-on-three power play. Brad Winchester sent a pass across the crease to Zach Hamill, who scored from close range.
The Stars had a couple of good chances to take the lead, but Hellberg stopped both Morin and Fraser who both broke in on net all alone. Hellberg came up big again, stopping Francis Wathier’s close range bid with just under four minutes left.
Milwaukee had some good pressure early in overtime, but Nilstorp was sharp in goal and that opened the door for Ritchie’s game winner later in the period.
Matt Fraser-Travis Morin-Colton Sceviour
Mike Hedden-Justin Dowling-Brett Ritchie
Luke Gazdic-Toby Petersen-Francis Wathier
Curtis McKenzie-Taylor Vause-Scott Glennie
Kevin Connauton-Jamie Oleksiak
Cameron Gaunce-Mike Commodore
Joe Morrow-Max Fortunus
Cristopher Nilstorp (starter)