McKenzie, Stars Two Too Much for Wild, 4-2
DES MOINES, IA – Curtis McKenzie scored both of his goals in the third period on Tuesday night, providing the margin of victory as the Texas Stars defeated the Iowa Wild, 4-2. Matt Jurusik was solid in the net for Texas, stopping 31 shots. Zane McIntyre made 22 saves for the Wild, who dropped their fourth straight contest.
Neither team could find the back of the net through the first frame, but Texas notched two goals in the second to take the lead heading to the second intermission. Riley Tufte broke the scoreless tie with his 10th goal exactly five minutes into the frame. Oskar Back was able to gain possession of the puck inside the Wild zone, then fed it to Tufte, who fired a laser wrist shot past McIntyre to make it 1-0.
Almost exactly four minutes later, Fredrik Karlstrom extended the lead to two with his ninth goal of the year. Karlstrom took a shot that McIntyre saved. The rebound came right to Jerad Rosburg, who put it back on net, but McIntyre was able to slide into position to make a spectacular save. Unfortunately for Iowa, no one cleared out Karlstrom who put the second rebound past the Wild netminder to make it 2-0.
The lead became three when McKenzie scored his 14th goal of the season 6:46 into the third. It was another rebound chance that enabled the Stars to extend the lead. Joel L’Esperance took a shot that McIntyre saved, but McKenzie was right in front, knocking in the rebound to make it 3-0.
Jurusik had shut the Wild down, holding Iowa off the scoreboard through the first 55 minutes of this contest, but Mason Shaw finally broke the drought with his 13th goal of the season with 4:37 left in the game. Mitchell Chaffee fed the puck to Shaw who was down along the goal line. He used his backhand to slide the puck past the Stars netminder to cut the deficit to two.
Marco Rossi earned the second assist on the play. He now has 10 points over his last nine games and Chaffee has 11 points during that span.
With 2:13 left in the game, Turner Ottenbreit made this a one-goal contest, scoring his second tally of the season. With McIntyre on the bench for the extra attacker, Dakota Mermis shoveled the puck along the blueline to Ottenbreit, who lifted a wrist shot that found its way through traffic and past Jurusik to make it 3-2.
The Wild were back in the contest. They pulled McIntyre again looking for the equalizer, but McKenzie sealed the victory with an empty-net tally to close out the 4-2 game.
The Iowa Wild are now 20-20-6, 35 percentage points behind Rockford for fourth place in the Central Division. The Wild will take on Texas (16-18-9) again on Thursday at the Wells Fargo Event Center. The puck drops at 7:00.
By Robert Pannier