(Cedar Park, Tex.) – Despite outshooting the Texas Stars 38-18 on the road Friday night, the Rampage dropped a 2-1 decision at the HEB Center, north of Austin.
The Rampage dominated most of the night, having quality scoring chances from all over the Stars’ zone, only to have Landon Bow stand tall and keep San Antonio shooters at bay.
The 6-5 Texas netminder came into the game with a 5.04 GAA against San Antonio this season, but the rookie goaltender found some magic in denying Rampage efforts all evening.
Only St. Louis Blues prospect, Zach Sanford was able to solve Bow with a screaming wrist shot perfectly placed top corner over the Texas keeper’s right shoulder with 29 seconds left in the second period. Statistically speaking, that marker, Sanford’s second in two games, put the Rampage in the driver’s seat, as they were 19-0-2 when going into the third period with the lead this year, as well as having a stellar 20-8-5 record when scoring the game’s first goal.
But the Stars rallied in the third on goals by Denis Gurianov and Sheldon Dries less than four minutes apart allowed Texas to claim the important win when it comes to playoff implications for both teams.
The Rampage outshot Texas 17-4 in the final session, including a critical sequence of events early in the third period.
With the Rampage up 1-0, the Stars’ Roope Hintz was awarded a penalty shot just 42 seconds into the period, but the Texas shooter was denied by Spencer Martin, just returned by the Colorado Avalanche prior to the contest.
On a subsequent Rampage possession, Sanford outraced Texas’ Gavin Bayreuther to the puck and let go another terrific wrist shot that found the pipe but not the net at 5:35 of the period, only to have Gurianov receive a quick outlet pass to get by Rampage defenseman Ryan Graves and go in alone on Martin.
The Stars’ former first-round pick and frequent “back of the Rampage net finder” over the years, put another dagger into San Antonio playoff hopes with a wrist shot over Martin’s glove for a 1-1 deadlock at 5:45.
With the Rampage pressing for the go-ahead marker, the Stars’ Dries found a loose puck in the neutral zone, raced down the right wing and went over Martin’s right shoulder on a tough angle shot from the bottom of the circle for a 2-1 Stars edge at 9:03.
The Rampage managed only one shot on goal during an ensuing power play in the final five minutes and came up empty with the extra attacker the final 1:38, thanks in part to Bow. Martin ended up with 16 saves on 18 Texas shots.
The loss in regulation stymies San Antonio post-season chances, as the Rampage fell six points behind the Stars for fourth place in the Pacific Division with nine games remaining, and sets up an almost certain must-win situation tonight in the AT&T Center against the Stars.