It's amazing what a difference one game can make, with the Condors entering Friday's matchup versus the Stars, having lost 3 of their previous four contests. However, facing the prospect of a tough battle on the road in a hostile environment, they came through to secure an important 5-3 win.
The Condors dominated the chances against the Stars, but in typical fashion made the encounter more difficult for themselves than they needed to. All that matters though, is that they ultimately did what it took to secure the two points.
The visitors would particularly be in control during the opening 20 minutes, as they held a superior 14-4 advantage in shots on goal. And yet it was the Stars who took the early lead, just over five minutes into the contest.
Early issues keeping the puck out of the net
The Condors only had themselves to blame as they should have cleared the puck, but instead lost it behind their own goal. Riley Damiani set up Kyle McDonald in front of goal, and Olivier Rodrigue was helpless to stop the latter firing home for the 1-0 advantage.
To their credit, Colin Chaulk's players continued to push forward and would get back into the game at the 10:59 mark of the first period. Xavier Bourgault forced a turnover and penetrated down the right wing, before calmly shooting home with the back hand on a shot-handed opportunity to tie the game at 1-1.
Despite the goal for the Condors, the Stars were still on the power play and they retook the lead just 21 seconds later. Matej Blumel scored his 18th of the season on a one-timer from long range, but in truth Rodrigue should have done better to stop it.
Fortunately for Rodrigue, the Condors again tied the game late on in the first period, just as their own power play opportunity was about to expire. Cam Dineen sent a probing and pinpoint pass across ice from deep out left, and Greg McKegg couldn't miss after being left all alone at the far post.
More of the same to start the second period
The Condors continued to dominate the shot count in the second, with a 13-6 advatage over the hosts. However, they had no time to rest on their laurels as the Stars took their third lead of the game just 1:40 into the middle period.
The Stars cut open the Condors' defence like a hot knife through butter, with Logan Stankoven and Mavrik Bourque combining to set up Christian Kyrou. Rodrigue was never going to stop Kyrou's shot, as the Stars took a 3-2 lead with just their fourth shot on goal.
The Condors could have quite easily been despondent, with them trailing despite dominating the chances. Instead though, they displayed their mental fortitude and as a result there would be no looking back.
First, the visitors once more tied up the game, just before the halfway point of the contest. The Condors hit the Stars on the break, with James Hamblin flying down the left wing before setting up Max Wanner, who fired home his third AHL goal of the season to make it 3-3.
Then, it looked as if Stars had retaken the lead for a fourth time, with just over eight minutes remaining in the middle frame. However, the officials immediately waved it off for kicking, much to the annoyance of the 6,153 in attendance inside H-E-B Center at Cedar Park.
Finally a lead for the Condors
The Condors would subsequently take their first lead at the 13:46 mark of the second period, with their second power play goal of the contest. Lane Pederson worked his way around the Stars players as if they weren't there, before passing to Seth Griffith to shoot home and make it 4-3 to the visitors.
After entering the third period down 27-10 in shots on goal, the Stars finally started to play more aggresively. However, the irony was that despite finally having an advantage in chances during the final 20 minutes at 14-11, they could not get even one shot past Rodrigue.
Not that it wasn't nervy for the Condors, who failed to put the game away until just 24 seconds remained. Bourgault turned provider with the primary assist, as Hamblin scored the empty-netter and make it 5-3.
Griffith took home the game's First Star, while Wanner was awarded the Third Star. Rodrigue stopped 21 of the 24 shots he faced and is now 6-2-2 in his last 10 starts between the pipes.
As a team, the Condors now have points in 16 of their past 19 games, with a record of 13-3-3 over this stretch. They are also now 19-2-2 this season, in games where they score at least three goals.
With the win the Condors improve to 20-13-4 and move up to seventh in the Pacific Division, still with games in hand and now the sixth-best points percentage in the Western Conference. They will renew acquaintances with the Stars late Saturday afternoon in Texas, with Jack Campbell in line for the start against his former team.