Curtis McKenzie scored at 10:46 of overtime to lift the Texas Stars to a 3-2 victory over the Rockford IceHogs in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals Sunday night. The Stars now take a 2-0 series lead on the road as the series shifts to Rockford for Tuesday’s Game 3, where the IceHogs are 3-0 in the postseason.
McKenzie pounced on a loose puck in front of the Rockford net, knocking it out of midair and past Collin Delia to seal Texas’ win on its seventh power-play opportunity. The goal was McKenzie’s fourth overall of the playoffs, and third game-winner.
The IceHogs managed to get on the board first in the contest, something they’ve done only twice in nine games this postseason. Just over six minutes after the puck was dropped, John Hayden collected a pass in the slot from Andreas Martinsen and slid it underneath Mike McKenna for an early Rockford lead that lasted into the second period.
In the middle frame, however, Texas responded with pressure, resulting in a game-tying tally by Jason Dickinson 2:45 into the stanza, and a go-ahead marker from Brett Regner six minutes later to make it a 2-1 game. But Chris DiDomenico once again knotted things up with his league high-tying sixth goal and league-leading 14th point of the playoffs, wiring a wrist shot from the left hashmark over McKenna’s shoulder and under the crossbar.
DiDomenico’s goal was assisted by Cody Franson and Adam Clendening, and the three have now combined for five of Rockford’s 17 power-play goals in the postseason. Clendening’s pair of assists on the night also vaulted him into second in league scoring with 1g-11a-12pts, trailing only DiDomenico’s 6g-8a-14pts.
The teams battled through a penalty-laden third period, but neither found twine until McKenzie’s game-winning effort in overtime. Rockford’s Delia finished with saves on 34 of 37 shots, while McKenna stonewalled 24 of 26 in the Stars’ cage.