GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Texas Stars capitalized on a massive power play advantage to rally for a 6-3 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins on Wednesday at Van Andel Arena.
Down 3-2 entering the third period, the Stars scored their second and third power play markers of the night within a run of four unanswered goals – including a late empty-netter – to send the Griffins to their first home loss of the season. Texas finished 3-for-7 with the man-advantage and held Grand Rapids scoreless in its three opportunities, the last of which came in the game’s final minute.
Joel L’Esperance and Adam Mascherin led the Stars’ attack with a goal and an assist apiece, while eight different Griffins skaters registered points.
Grand Rapids (1-4-0-0) will host the Chicago Wolves on Saturday at 7 p.m.
The Griffins’ penalty kill ceded the game’s first goal just 3:54 into the opening period. Harri Sateri stopped Mascherin’s breakaway try, but Dylan McIlrath’swhack to clear the rebound from the goalmouth ended up on the stick of L’Esperance in the high slot, and he quickly snapped a shot beneath the goalie’s left pad.
Grand Rapids had a chance to knot the score minutes later during another Texas power play after Wade Megan was awarded a penalty shot, but his attempt at 6:08 died in the catching glove of Landon Bow.
Undaunted, the Griffins pulled even at 8:07 when Chris Terry set up shop on the doorstep to tip home Vili Saarijarvi’s wrist shot from the point, logging his first goal and third point of the young season.
Bow denied a second shorthanded break by the Griffins just past the 13-minute mark, thwarting Turner Elson this time, and his teammates soon rewarded him with a 2-1 lead. Colton Hargrove burst across the Griffins’ line and sped around McIlrath in the left circle before sending a feed across to Tony Calderone for a backdoor goal at 15:05.
Matt Finn made it a 2-2 game with 2:28 remaining before intermission, thanks in no small part to the thievery of Filip Zadina. As the Stars entered Grand Rapids’ zone, Zadina stole a pass and immediately pushed the puck up to Finn, who worked his way through the neutral zone and to the top of the left circle before ripping a shot past Bow for his first point as a Griffin and first AHL goal since his 2015-16 season with Bridgeport.
The Griffins grabbed their only lead 3:05 into the middle frame when Axel Holmstrom redirected Jake Chelios’ blast from the point, and they held that advantage until the 1:11 mark of the third period, when a L’Esperance pass from the left circle found Mascherin at the right post for another backdoor tally.
Continued penalty problems for the Griffins led to a second power play goal for the Stars (2-1-1-1) that put the visitors up 4-3 with 15:40 remaining. Denis Gurianov’s initial shot from the right side deflected off the stick of a Griffin, but he stayed with it and batted the airborne puck over Sateri’s left shoulder.
A point-blank 5-on-3 goal by Michael Mersch bolstered Texas’ margin with 10:46 left, and Nicholas Caamano added the nightcap into an empty cage with 1:52 remaining.
Sateri finished with 26 saves while Bow answered with 25 in the winning effort. Both of Bow’s and the Stars’ wins this season have come at the expense of the Griffins, who lost their season opener by a 3-1 count in Cedar Park, Texas, on Oct. 5.
Notes: Defenseman Libor Sulak, assigned to the Griffins by the Red Wings late this afternoon, was not available to play but will practice with Grand Rapids on Thursday…This was the first time in six career games against Grand Rapids that Bow allowed more than two goals. He entered the night with a 3-0-1 record, a 1.58 GAA and a 0.951 save percentage versus the Griffins.
Three Stars: 1. TEX L’Esperance (power play goal, assist); 2. TEX Mascherin (goal, assist); 3. GR Holmstrom (goal)