The Texas Stars held the high-scoring Oklahoma City Barons to just two goals Thursday night, but two goals were all Oklahoma City would need. Anton Lander’s goal 1:28 into overtime lifted the Barons to a 2-1 victory over the Stars in Game 1 of the Calder Cup Western Conference Semifinals at Cedar Park Center.
“It was a pretty tight game all the way through. I don’t think either team got very much the whole game,” said Texas coach Willie Desjardins. “They’re a good hockey team. They showed why they went into Charlotte and won on the road and why they had so many wins down the stretch.”
In overtime, Toni Rajala put the puck on net from the left circle and Lander tipped it past Texas goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp to give Oklahoma City the win.
“It’s going to be tight the whole series and we need to respect those high skilled players,” said Texas forward Francis Wathier. “We can’t give them time and space. One mistake in our zone in OT and it cost us the game.”
Wathier scored the lone goal for Texas. Nilstorp stopped 24 of 26 shots. Game 2 of the series is Saturday night in Cedar Park.
Oklahoma City got a solid performance from goaltender Yann Danis, who stopped 34 of 35 shots on the night.
“At this time of the year you are going to have good teams and you’re going to have good goaltending. That can’t catch us by surprise,” said Desjardins. “We have to be more determined. I think the first game of a series is where you may not be aware what the other team is going to do. Now, we know what they are going to do. We have to raise our level or we aren’t going to win.”
The Stars had an 11-5 shots advantage in the first period, but Oklahoma City scored the only goal in the first 20 minutes. Philippe Cornet sent a pass from behind the goal line to Mark Arcobello, who scored from the bottom of the right circle with 4:52 remaining in the period.
Nilstorp came up with a big save early in the second, stopping a close range bid by Cornet to keep it a 1-0 game.
Danis had a couple of good saves as well, stopping Joe Morrow at the 9:58 mark and then making a nice save on Reilly Smith off the rush with 4:39 left.
The Stars thought they had scored with 3:37 left in the second when Brett Sonne poked the puck by Danis, but the referee had blown the whistle and the goal was disallowed.
But just seven seconds later the Stars tied the game when Jordie Benn set up Wathier, who beat Danis with a shot from the left circle.
Texas came out with a good push early in the third, but couldn’t take advantage. Texas forward Scott Glennie had a big block to save a goal a little more than five minutes into the period to keep it a 1-1 game. Oklahoma City stepped up the pressure as the period moved along and ended up with an 11-9 shots advantage for the period. And they carried the pressure into overtime, creating a couple of early chances before Lander ended the game.
“We’ve got to put this one behind us and focus on Saturday,” said Wathier.
*The Stars played without center Travis Morin, who missed his second straight game after getting hit in the head with a puck.
*Texas was 0-3 on the power play and 1-1 on the penalty kill in the game.
*Colton Sceviour led Texas with 6 shots on goal.