Texas Stars

Stars unravel late in loss to Condors

Texas gives up four unanswered goals to lose for fifth time in six games

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The Stars played with the same energy they had shown in the previous outing for 16 seconds Friday night. For the remaining 59 minutes and 44 seconds, Texas reverted to the team that had lost four straight games.

Curtis McKenzie and Austin Fyten scored in quick succession late in the first period, but the Bakersfield Condors scored four unanswered goals over the final two frames to win 4-2 in the second two-game series. 

“That was probably the most disappointing loss of the year,” McKenzie said. “We’ve got a chance to close them out in the third period up by a goal at home. We’ve just got to find a way to clamp down. Everyone is pretty frustrated right now.”

The Stars only scored two goals despite taking a season-high 40 shots on goal. 

Landon Bow stopped 27 of the 30 shots he faced and has just one win in his last six appearances. 

On Friday night, McKenzie scored two goals to give the Stars a 3-2 overtime win against the Condors. He tallied with just over a minute left in the game to send it to overtime and then won it 50 seconds into the extra frame to snap Texas’ four-game losing streak. 

The forward — who will represent the Stars at the AHL All-Star Classic in late January — now has 18 goals on the season, the best on the team and tied for the second most in the league. He has 11 points in his last 11 appearances. 

“I didn’t like the energy of our group today, especially in the second and third,” Stars head coach Derek Laxdal said. “We’re going to look int he mirror here as a group and pick ourselves up. It’s tough when you have a big crowd and you lay an egg like that in the second and third periods.”  

The excitement from Friday’s overtime game must have played into the slow start for both teams in the first period. Even a pair of power plays for the Stars, during both of which they dominated possession, couldn’t boost the energy enough. 

Until a wealth of physical play in the Bakersfield zone left McKenzie on his knees in front of the net, where he poked home the first goal of the game. Less than 10 seconds later, Fyten was powering his way to the Condors’ net and chipped the puck in to double the lead. 

“We’re just trying to get pucks to the next and get bodies there,” McKenzie said. “That was a great goal by (Fyten). That line is playing great. We did a good job getting pucks to the net. We shouldn’t be sitting back.”

That energy lasted the length of the second period. But again, any scoring again didn’t come until there was less than a minute left to play when a Bakersfield snipe from the blue line went over Bow’s left shoulder. 

Bakersfield’s first two third-period goals were less than two minutes apart. The first happened on the breakaway following a delay of game penalty on Condors goalie Nick Ellis. The Condors then pounced on a flubbed Texas shot from the point and buried the game-winner with just over 12 minutes left in regulation. 

They added an empty net goal with 15 seconds left. 

Texas hits the road for a six-game trip beginning Wednesday night in Bakersfield. The Stars return home on Jan. 23 against the San Jose Barracuda and host the Stockton Heat on Jan. 26 and 27. 

“We’re going on a long road trip here and we’ve got to get some points,” Laxdal said. “It can make or break your season. Tonight stings, but we’re going to have to respond and get ready to go play on Wednesday.”

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