TEXAS STARS

Stars lose two weekend games in tight playoff race

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The Stars dropped both of their weekend games at HEB Center, falling 4-1 to the Chicago Wolves on Friday and 3-2 to the Grand Rapids Griffins on Saturday.

Texas failed to make up any ground in the postseason race with the two regulation losses, despite the fourth-place Rockford IceHogs losing two weekend games to. Texas fell to 32-29-4-3 with 71 standings points, one behind Rockford, after the weekend back-to-back.

Michael Mersch scored his 20th goal of the season in Friday's losing effort, while Joel Hanley tallied his sixth and Nick Caamano recorded his 10th in Saturday's game. 

Landon Bow started in net for Texas in both games, stopping 23 of 26 shots against on Friday and 20 of 23 on Saturday.

The Stars could not work their way back from a late deficit and fell to the Chicago Wolves by a 4-1 score on Friday. Mersch scored the only Stars goal in the early parts of the first period.

Chicago opened the scoring with a slap shot on the power play by defenseman Dylan Coghlan, whose goal went up after Stars defenseman Ben Gleason took a costly cross-checking minor penalty.

Minutes after, the Stars would level the scoring when Mersch tapped in a rebound past the outstretched left pad of Wolves starting goaltender Oskar Dansk, but the Wolves would retake the lead later in the period on Ryan Wagner's drive-by deflection that wound up flying over and past Bow.

Chicago's Keegan Kolesar was left unmarked and scored on a tap-in to Bow's right in the second period, and Wolves winger Tomas Hyka slid an empty-netter in from behind his own blue line to seal the deal and give the Wolves a 4-1 win.

Leading 2-1 in the third period, the Stars failed to hold on and lost to the Grand Rapids Griffins on Saturday in a 3-2 decision.

Texas' center depth took a hit before the game as captain and top-line anchor Justin Dowling was recalled to the NHL's Dallas Stars, but the Stars still commanded the opening frame. They outshot Grand Rapids 10-3 in period one, but failed to put any of their first-period chances in the back of the net and went 0-for-2 on the power play.

Rookie winger Adam Mascherin beautifully set up Hanley's goal, which opened the scoring on Saturday. It was Hanley's sixth of the season and came off a cross-ice feed on an odd-man rush. Griffins center Dominic Turgeon answered not long after when he deflected a puck past Bow to level the scoring at one apiece going into the second intermission.

Caamano gave the Stars the third-period advantage just 2:04 into the final regulation frame when he potted a rebound just as a Texas power play expired. Caamano's 10th goal of the season was also the first professional point for Stars defenseman Joseph Cecconi, a recent addition from the University of Michigan, who tallied the secondary assist.

However, Carter Camper bagged a power-play goal in the third period to tie the game up at 2-2, until Dominik Shine danced through traffic and sniped a puck over Bow for the eventual game-winner for Grand Rapids, who took home a 3-2 victory.

"At the end of the day, I thought experience ended up winning the game for them," Laxdal said after Saturday's loss. "I liked the way we competed tonight, but obviously, Grand Rapids is an experienced team."

The Stars host the Manitoba Moose at HEB Center on Wednesday and will then travel to the midwest for two games against the Iowa Wild on  Mar. 29 and Mar. 30.

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