CEDAR PARK – In a tightly contested matchup on Friday night, two goals from Maxime Fortunus was the difference as the Texas Stars edged the Chicago Wolves for a 3-2 win to begin a five-game homestand at Cedar Park Center in front of 4,443 in attendance.
Travis Morin added a pair of assists for the Stars, and Jussi Rynnas stopped 26 shots to earn his 11th win of the season in net. The win allows the Stars to keep pace and stay one point back of a playoff spot in the AHL’s Western Conference, plus close the gap on the Wolves who currently sit seventh in the West. With his two goals on the night, Fortunus has seven points over his last eight games (three goals, four assists).
The Stars (17-15-9-0) and Wolves (21-16-4-10) finish up their weekend set on Saturday at Cedar Park Center at 7 p.m.
After a scoreless first period, Texas opened up the scoring just over a minute into the second when Brendan Ranford finished off an odd-man rush with Travis Morin for his 10th goal of the season. Fortunus then made it a 2-0 hockey game for the Stars off a turn-around slap shot from the top of the slot that beat Wolves’ rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington for his sixth of the year at 16:24. Chicago answered back just over two minutes later as Petteri Lindbohm’s drive from the left circle beat Rynnas for the first power play goal given up by the Stars in nine games, and just the sixth over the past 24 contests.
In the third, Fortunus struck again to keep the Texas power play unit rolling with a blast from the point at 13:48 for his second of the game and the team’s seventh power play goal in the last six games. Morin tallied his second helper of the night on the goal, and the Stars would hold on in the end despite Chicago’s Shane Harper adding one in the final seconds with the extra attacker on the ice.
Binnington finished 26-of-29 to take the loss. The Stars finished 1-for-3 on the power play while the Wolves went 1-for-4. Texas improved their record to 7-5-1-0 this year when facing an opponent for the first time.