A three-goal second-period and a 21-save effort from rookie goaltender Jack Campbell pushed the league-leading Texas Stars to a 5-1 win over the Rochester Americans in a Western Conference showdown Wednesday at The Blue Cross Arena. The game was also Chadd Cassidy's first as Amerks head coach since Ron Rolston was named the Sabres coach earlier in the day. The game was just the third all-time meeting between the two teams, who have now combined for 27 goals in three meetings since Texas joined the American Hockey League prior to the 2009-10 campaign.
Tomas Vincour recorded a pair of tallies and Colton Sceviour recorded two points (1+1), including the game-winner for the Stars, who entered the contest as the top ranked team in the AHL. Mathieu Tousignant and former Amerk Mike Hedden also scored for Texas, which improved to a league-best 31-13-4-4 on the season and became the first team to reach 70 points.
Alex Biega scored the lone goal for Rochester while David Leggio, making his 41st appearance between the pipes for the Amerks, steered aside 33 shots in the loss.
Tousignant's first of the season gave the Stars a 1-0 lead after he spotted a loose puck behind Leggio and sent it to the back of the net at 15:32 of the opening period. Taylor Vause's initial bid from the left face-off circle was knocked down by Leggio, who thought he had it in his possession, but the puck trickled through the Amerks netminder's legs before coming to rest in the crease. Circling around the Rochester cage, Tousignant was able to locate it and jam it over the goal-line to give Texas the advantage heading into the intermission.
Texas nearly made it a 2-0 contest midway through the second stanza as Tom Wandell appeared to convert on his one-timer from the right slot, but Leggio slid to his left, flashed his glove and snared it out of the air to keep it a one-goal game.
Just a minute later, however, a short-handed breakaway by Sceviour gave Texas a 2-0 cushion at 10:33, marking the first of a three-goal run for the Stars in the second period. Francis Wathier gathered a loose puck after an offensive turnover and sent a long stretch pass to a breaking Sceviour, who raced in alone and placed a back-hander to the upper right corner for his 13th goal of the season.
A pair of quick goals just 37 seconds apart gave the Stars their largest lead of the night, beginning with a power-play tally from Hedden at 16:15. Sceviour and Carl Sneep set up Hedden in the slot and the ex-Amerk weaved his way to the goal-mouth and slipped a shot inside the near post. Vincour answered shortly after, deflecting Jace Coyle's blast from the point under the crossbar to put Texas ahead 4-0.
The Amerks finally solved Campbell late in the period with a short-handed tally of their own as Biega took a Rick Schofield pass and went top shelf for his fourth goal of the season. Veteran defenseman Adam Pardy made a nice defensive play to break up Texas' power-play and flipped the puck out of the zone and out of harm's way. Schofield gathered it at center ice and a feathered a pass up to Biega, who joined the offensive rush at the last minute and beat Campbell over his left shoulder, making it a 4-1 game.
Vincour added his second of the game at 16:08 of the final frame, one-timing his own rebound into the net to make it 5-1. Austin Fyten had the primary assist on the goal, while Campbell picked up his first career professional point with the second assist.The Amerks square off with the Hamilton Bulldogs for the second time this week on Friday, Feb. 22 as the action shifts back across the border for a North Division showdown at the Bell Centre in downtown Montreal, home of the NHL's Montreal Canadiens. The 7:30 p.m. matchup will be the ninth of 12 meetings between the two teams this season