Midway through the first period of Saturday's game against the Central Division's top-ranked team, Texas Stars head coach Derek Laxdal knew his team needed to push the reset button.
That's why when Laxdal's club went down 2-0 on a pair of Chicago Wolves goals in less than two minutes, he called timeout and sorted things out.
From there, the Stars would downright and beat the Wolves 4-2.
"I told the guys, 'I don't mind our game, but just calm down and work a little bit harder down low,' just to kind of take the pressure off the guys," Laxdal said. "After that, I felt like we started taking the game over."
Texas avenged their overtime loss to Chicago on Friday night by scoring four unanswered goals on their way to the victory.
Michael Mersch, Erik Condra, Nicholas Caamano, and Robbie Payne all recorded goals, while Landon Bow made 18 saves on 20 shots in the winning effort.
It was Texas' first win against Chicago in their last four meetings. Following a win on Wednesday and an overtime loss on Friday, the Stars (28-23-4-3) picked up five of the six available standings points over their three-game homestand and jumped over the Rockford IceHogs for the fourth and final postseason spot in the division.
"This is the way we have to play. We don't have the firepower right now, so we have to win the close games," Laxdal said. "For us to hold [Chicago] to 20 shots shows the effort our guys are putting in to defend first."
Texas fell into an early hole when Chicago scored twice within the first nine minutes of play. From that point on, Texas looked rejuvenated and energetic and would control the latter parts of the initial frame.
"We just had to regroup, settle down, and find our own game," Caamano said. "Then we clawed back. We have a resilient group in there, so it's good to see that effort."
Mersch would cut the lead in half in the final minute of the first period with his 16th goal of the year. firing a one-timer through Wolves netminder Oskar Dansk on the power play.
Condra would tally his own power-play goal at the 5:19 mark in the second period, tapping a loose puck over the outstretched pad of Dansk for the equalizer.
Less than five minutes after Condra leveled the scoring, Caamano scored the go-ahead goal.
"It's something I used to do in junior, and a play I definitely like to do," Caamano said of the goal. "I'm kind of finding my groove a little and getting more comfortable doing that."
Payne, a who signed an AHL contract with the Stars last offseason, scored on a top-corner snipe over the blocker of Dansk to give Texas a 4-2 advantage that would stand until the final horn.
The Stars return to action on March 5 for a critical road test against the Milwaukee Admirals at 7 p.m., and come back to Central Texas when they host the San Antonio Rampage on Sunday, March 10 in a 5 p.m. game.
"I thought everyone, up and down the lineup, played one of their best games of the year," Laxdal said. "For 60 minutes, our guys were outstanding...it was a gutsy effort by a thin team."
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