TEXAS STARS

Stars fall to Rampage in regular season finale

Texas begins the playoffs Thursday at home against the Ontario Reign

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The Stars dropped their regular season finale to I-35 rivals San Antonio in a shootout 4-3 Saturday night at the HEB Center. 

Rampage winger Klim Kostin fooled Texas starting goaltender Landon Bow with a succulent deke to score the game-winner in the shootout’s fifth round.

"I thought their goaltender was outstanding in the third period, which kept them in it," Texas head coach Derek Laxdal said. "At the end of the day, we'll move on. Our guys had a great season."

The game carried no true meaning in terms of the AHL standings as Texas had clinched a spot in the Calder Cup Playoffs a week prior, the same night their opponents down south were eliminated from contention. Texas finishes the season 38-24-8-6 with 90 points and a .592 points percentage.

However, the Stars clinched home-ice advantage for round one of the Calder Cup Playoffs, as their first-round opponent, the Ontario Reign, fell to the Bakersfield Condors 5-1 in their final regular season game. 

Texas came-from-behind and forced its 28th overtime game of the season when Brian Flynn tied the game with his 19th goal of the year just 71 seconds remaining in the third period.

Stars forward Travis Morin assisted on the game-tying goal. His 51 helpers paced all AHL players this season. It's the first time Morin has led the league in assists since the team won the Calder Cup in 2013-14.

Kostin's goal was the only one either team scored in the shootout. The Stars finish the season 11-9 in overtime games. 

Texas outshot San Antonio 40-23, including a 17-5 advantage in shots on goal in the final period and the five-minute overtime session.

"Thank God there's no three-on-three overtime or shootouts in the playoffs," Laxdal said. "I thought the guys would have more energy tonight and sometimes that backfires, but we'll move on."

As the game mostly served as a tuneup for the Stars’ upcoming playoff series, the game’s early minutes were less than ideal. Rampage rookie forward Taylor Richart scored his first career AHL goal just 77 seconds into the game to put the road team on top. It was one of two goals Texas would surrender on the penalty kill.

Stars center Sheldon Dries capitalized on a puck-handling error from Rampage netminder Adam Werner to level the score in the bottom half of the first frame. Dries, exclusively on an AHL contract with the Texas Stars, netted his 19th goal of the season on the play - just two Stars players have more this season.

In accordance with the back-and-forth nature of the game, Rampage forward Reid Petryk went backhand/five-hole against Bow to restore the San Antonio advantage early in the second period.

The lead lasted just under five minutes, as recently-signed University of Michigan alum Tony Calderone fired a wrist shot past Werner on a Texas power play for his first professional goal. 

"I know I had a couple of chances in those earlier games, but to actually score one felt awesome," Calderone said.

Just a minute and a half later, struggles on the penalty kill continued for Texas, as Zach Sanford fired a shot past Bow for a marker on the man-advantage. Sanford, a highly-regarded St. Louis Blues prospect, gave the Rampage the lead entering the third period with his fourth goal of the year.

Texas is looking ahead to the postseason, with the Stars hosting Pacific Division opponents the Ontario Reign on Thursday and Friday in Cedar Park. 

"We got chasing the game early, and that seems to happen quite often lately, and we have to make sure we have a great start on Thursday," Laxdal said. "Like I said to the guys after the game, it's all about them in the dressing room. There are 29 guys in there, and at some point in time, someone's gonna have to step up. Any given night, someone can be a hero, and we just have to be ready for it."

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