CEDAR PARK, Texas – The Grand Rapids Griffins dropped contest number two of their four-game road trip 4-0 to the Texas Stars on Saturday night at the H-E-B Center.
The Griffins (14-18-2-2) failed to solve the puzzle of Jake Oettinger, who now has 61 saves in two shutouts against Grand Rapids. Netminder Kevin Poulin made 23 saves in his Griffins debut against the Stars (15-17-2-2) and skated in his first contest in the AHL since March 26, 2016.
The Griffins will finish their three games in three days on Sunday when they return to San Antonio to take on the Rampage at 4 p.m. EST.
Texas tested Poulin early in the opening period when Gavin Bayreuther and Josh Melnick rallied off consecutive shots from the right wing. The Stars got on the board 5:30 into the game when Jason Robertson netted his 12th goal of the year. From the top of the left-wing circle, Joel Hanley sent a pass through the Griffins’ zone and Robertson’s one-timer from the right goalpost beat the out-stretched glove of Poulin.
The Stars made it a 2-0 game with 3:45 left in the first when Joel Kiviranta slipped a puck under the left armpit of Poulin. Joel L’Esperance skated down the right boards and centered a pass to Kiviranta in front of the crease. Kiviranta scored on the doorstep for his 10th tally of the season.
Texas started the second frame on a power play and capitalized on the man advantage at the 1:30 mark. Anthony Louis fired a shot from the top of the right circle that was saved by Poulin and the rebound fell to Tanner Kero at the right side of the goal. Kero dropped the puck back to L’Esperance between the circles and his slapshot found the left corner of the net.
The Griffins lacked a shot in the opening 7:30 of the period before Matthew Ford hammered a puck from the bottom of the left circle that was gloved down by Oettinger. Another quality chance came from Ryan Kuffner’s wrist shot from the right boards that was saved and the rebound from Chase Pearson in front of the net was held onto. Grand Rapids rallied off 14 shots in the final 12:30 of the frame but were held scoreless.
Pearson nearly got the Griffins on the board in the opening two minutes of the third when his backhanded shot snuck past the netminder but was cleared off the goal line by a Texas defender. With under six minutes to play, Dominic Turgeon rattled the left post off his shot from the right circle and Dominik Shine’s breakaway chance was blocked by Oettinger.
The Griffins pulled Poulin for an extra attacker with 2:30 remaining and the Stars took advantage of the empty net when Dillon Heatherington tallied his first goal of the season at 17:58. Heatherington rifled a shot from behind his own net that sped down the ice and into the goal to give the Stars a 4-0 victory.
Notes: Grand Rapids outshot Texas 33-27…The Griffins penalty kill went 4-for-5 while the power play went 0-for-4…Poulin made his first AHL appearance since March 26, 2016 where he posted 35 saves in a win for Stockton over Ontario…The Griffins are now 5-3-1-0 in their last nine outings on foreign ice.
Three Stars: 1. TEX Oettinger (W, 33 saves); 2. TEX Kero (two assists); 3. TEX Robertson (goal)
[Post content courtesy of the Grand Rapids Griffins]