The Texas Stars started hot Friday, but everything came apart in the final five minutes as Oklahoma City’s Tanner House scored with 15 seconds to play to stun the Stars 3-2.
With time winding down in regulation and the game seemingly headed for overtime, House flipped a soft shot toward the Texas goal that handcuffed Stars goaltender Jack Campbell, bounced off the tip of his glove and fell over the goal line for the game-winner.
That goal came about four and a half minutes after the Barons tied the game on Philippe Cornet’s goal, scored seconds after Texas’s penalty-kill unit had thwarted one of only the two power-play opportunities for either team.
“This was a game we should have won,” Texas coach Willie Desjardins said. “We can’t afford to take that penalty late in the game and it’s tough to lose on a goal like we gave up.”
Texas (39-18-5-6, 89 points), still is tied for the most points in the AHL, wasted a chance to pick up two crucial points over idle Charlotte in the South Division race. The Stars lead the Western Conference by two points over Toronto, by five points over Grand Rapids and by six over Charlotte.
Texas, coming off six days rest, came out flying and jumped on the Barons for two goals in the first 3:01 of the opening period.
Newly signed winger Brett Ritchie scored on just his second shift with Texas, flipping the puck into a wide-open net at 2:06 past Oklahoma City goaltender Yann Danis. Then NHL veteran Mike Commodore, in his first game since signing with the Stars on March 20, pushed a shot past Danis at 3:01.
Oklahoma City (34-23-3-8, 78 points) pushed hard to get back in the game in the second period, and cut the Texas lead to 2-1 on Curtis Hamilton’s mini-breakaway goal at the 15:22 mark. Cornet brought the Barons back to even at the 15:11 mark of the third period as he wristed home a shot that deflected off the stick of a Stars’ defenseman.
“We played well in the first period, but Oklahoma City really got after us in the second and that might have taken a little wind out of our sails,” Texas defenseman Maxime Fortunus said. “We won’t dwell on this loss for long because we have two games to play the next two days, and we will bounce back.”
The Stars play Hamilton tonight at 7 p.m. It’s the Stars’ last home game before a five-game road trip beginning Sunday in San Antonio.