CEDAR PARK – In an eventful finish to the regular season series between the two teams, Derek Hulak scored twice, the Texas Stars offense rattled off 50 shots on goal, and Jussi Rynnas made 34 saves in a 4-0 shutout win over the Charlotte Checkers on Saturday night in front of a crowd of 5,268 at Cedar Park Center.
Texas finishes the season series going 5-3-0-0 against the Checkers. Stars captain Maxime Fortunus also enjoyed a milestone night, tallying the 200th career assist of his professional career. It was the third shutout of the season for the Stars and Rynnas, who stopped two penalty shots along the way to preserve a perfect night in net.
The Stars (19-15-10-0) close out their homestand on Tuesday when they host San Antonio at 7:30 p.m.
The third period proved to be an eventful one as the Stars offense peppered Drew MacIntrye with 20 shots to open up their 4-0 lead off a pair of goals, plus the tempers between both clubs boiled over in the final minutes of regulation with four fighting majors and a game misconduct being handed out between the two clubs.
Hulak opened up the scoring with just 2:12 remaining in the first period, deflecting Greg Rallo’s one-timer from the left circle for his 10th of the season. Fortunus also tallied the second assist, and the Stars offense was off and running.
23 seconds into period two Derek Meech’s wrist shot from the blue line fluttered its way through traffic and past a screened Drew MacIntyre, who took loss despite a 46-save performance in net for the Checkers (16-23-5-1), to make it a 2-0 lead for the Stars on his seventh of the season.
Hulak added his second of the night at 1:28 of the third, forcing a turnover in the right circle and carrying the puck across the front of the goal to pull MacIntrye out of position before lifting it over the sprawled goaltender to end the individual effort. Branden Troock added the final strike at 8:58 with a wrist shot from the top of the right circle that slipped just under the crossbar. Gemel Smith and Jesse Root added the assists.
Both teams were held scoreless on the power play as Texas finished 0-for-5 and Charlotte went 0-for-3. Charlotte’s Alex Aleardi at 5:19 of the first and Zach Boychuk at 16:07 of the third were the two skaters denied by Rynnas on penalty shot attempts. The Stars have faced three total penalty shots this season, all have come against Charlotte and all have been turned away by the Stars veteran netminder.
Hulak finishes the season series against Charlotte scoring five of his 11 goals on the year against the Checkers. The rookie forward registered a hat trick earlier this year on Nov. 8, in Charlotte. Travis Morin saw his three-game point streak come to an end in the win. The Stars maintained their pace in the AHL’s Western Conference playoff hunt, sitting two points back of Grand Rapids, Chicago, and Hamilton — who are all in a three-way tie in the conference occupying the seventh and eighth spots.