Chay Genoway had the Aeros only goal in the game, and Matt Hackett made enough stops to give the Aeros a chance to win a big division game. But, in the end, the old cliche about the other team wanting it more played out, and the Stars head back to Cedar Park with two points.
The power play scored a goal, but the Aeros drew two penalties in the third with a chance to draw even. No dice. Texas milked the clock, and the Aeros couldn't draw even with Hackett on (and then off) and then back on the bench.
"We didn't have a lot of energy, and I don't think we competed enough," said Aeros head coach John Torchetti. "We took a bad penalty, and it cost us the game. We have got to do a better job on the penalty kill. We've got to hold ourselves more accountable and we have to play better.
"Some guys are going to have to step up and take some pride in that job."
|The Aeros were THIS close to tying the game late in the second period.|
Photo by Morris Molina, Houston Aeros
Torchetti didn't name names, but there was clearly a lack of urgency in clearing the zone on the game winning goal. The unit seemed satisfied with the missed shot on the previous play. Texas wanted a goal there, and they got an easy one by Alex Chiasson for the winner. That marker was the eighth power play goal the Aeros have coughed up in the last nine games.
"It's really simple stuff," added Torchetti. "We have got to take pride in that job, and we are not taking pride in that job. It starts with me; I have to be harder on them and take some guys off (the PK)."
The first period was typical Aeros. Get a few good looks in the first three minutes and then get completely outplayed until the end of the period. The Jordie Benn goal found its way through traffic, and Hackett was screened. But the third-year goalie made three really good saves late in the first period to keep it a one-goal game.
Hackett did the same thing Tuesday against OKC, and that was good enough to rally the troops for the second period en route to a 4-2 win over the Barons.
"We have to come out and work harder," added Torchetti. "I thought we came out and had a really good practice yesterday, and then tonight we didn't even have the speed that we had in yesterday's practice. I think we thought we were just going to put our sticks out there and get two points."
"(The Stars) have not been winning the last few games, and they were hungrier for pucks, and they were getting points shots right off the bat. Our defensive zone faceoffs were maybe at 25 percent, and that is why they were getting better puck possession in the first period."
Chay Genoway scored a pretty power play goal to tie the game early in the second period. He hit the post and the crossbar before the puck beat Nilstorp. But, the Aeros did not show much life until late, late, late in the period when they had another power play chance.
The Aeros have to find a way to start better, and they have to find a way to get better on the PK. Right now there are still a lot of injuries and - even though I hate to make excuses - that has to play into it a little bit. I really do think with everyone back, this Aeros team could be really, really good even without Granlund and Scandella.
Part of starting well, and part of killing penalties is having good chemistry both at practice and during the games. I just don't think the whole team has been healthy enough to really form a good bond. We'll see, and hopefully things will settle down when players start to get healthy and the NHL labor situation resolves itself one way or the other.
I know there are a few of you who blame Torchetti for the lack of energy to start the games. And that may be true, but don't think he isn't aware of this pattern. He shouldered much of the blame for Friday's game. He's moving guys around, trying to find the best fit, but until that happens, there are going to be a few more games like this
"We didn't come out a play a good, sound hockey game," added Torchetti. "And I will take the blame for that one. I have to find a way to get us better prepared for tomorrow."