Curtis McKenzie’s third goal of the night broke a 2-2 tie in the third period and propelled the Texas Stars to their fourth straight victory, a 5-2 decision over the Grand Rapids Griffins on Wednesday at Van Andel Arena.
The Griffins (8-10-0-2), who have earned one point in their last four games, will attempt to snap their skid when they host a rematch with the Stars (12-8-0-1) on Friday at 7 p.m.
Just past the midpoint of a scoreless game and 13 seconds into a Texas power play, the Griffins took advantage of a misplay by goaltender Landon Bow to grab the lead. Bow collected a cleared puck to the left of his net and attempted an ill-fated pass that was picked off in the left circle by Colin Campbell, who immediately shot the puck into the vacated cage at the 10:24 mark of the second period.
The Stars potted the equalizer just five seconds after that power play expired, when McKenzie redirected Justin Dowling’s centering feed past Jared Coreau from the doorstep at 12:16. The visitors used a subsequent advantage to inch ahead 2:35 before the intermission, with McKenzie crashing the crease to jam a loose puck between Coreau’s pads for his second of the game.
Tyler Bertuzzi forged a 2-2 tie 1:02 into the final period, taking a sharp cross-ice pass from Robbie Russo and snapping a shot past Bow from the left circle. But McKenzie completed his second hat trick of the season at 7:45, intercepting a pass by a fallen Joe Hicketts at the Grand Rapids line and finishing his breakaway by blowing a shot by Coreau’s blocker.
Texas doubled its advantage at the 12:24 mark, as Max French did the honors from close range to polish off an odd-man rush, before Travis Morin put the game away at 15:23, scoring from the bottom of the left circle for the 5-2 final.
Bow improved to 7-3 on the season on the strength of 27 saves while Coreau answered with 24 in the loss. The Griffins ceded one power play goal to the Stars in three chances and were hampered by a 0-for-6 performance by their own power play unit, which has failed to convert 16 opportunities over the last three games.