Luke Johnson notched a late tying tally to force overtime and Victor Ejdsell potted a power-play goal at 2:32 of the extra stanza to help the Rockford IceHogs stave off elimination with a 3-2 victory over the Texas Stars in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals Thursday night.
The contest was the third consecutive game between the two teams to feature overtime, and Game 5 is now slated for Friday night in Rockford.
With the Stars ahead 2-1 late in the third period, Johnson deflected a Cody Franson shot from the blue line up and over Mike McKenna’s shoulder from the middle hashmarks to find twine for the second consecutive contest and send the game to extra time. Then, as the Hogs worked with the man-advantage in overtime, Gustav Forsling fired a shot from distance that bounced off of McKenna and was corralled by Matthew Highmore, who then sent a no-look pass across the crease for the waiting Ejdsell to deposit into a gaping net.
Ejdsell bookended the Hogs’ scoring efforts on the night, netting the game’s opening goal as well. Just 6:24 into the affair, he sped down the wing and cut to the front of the net, where he slotted the puck through the legs of McKenna for an early Rockford lead. Including his pair of strikes and a helper on Johnson’s third-period marker, Ejdsell factored in on all three IceHogs goals and became the first Rockford player besides Chris DiDomenico to record a three-point effort in the 2018 postseason.
The Stars then carried play and jumped out to a 2-1 lead during the first and second periods. Travis Morin first knotted the score at 1 on a first-period 5-on-3, and Matt Mangene pushed Texas to its only advantage of the night with just 26 seconds left in the second period. Texas’ lead held strong until 13:02 of the final frame, when Johnson stepped up for Rockford to again tie the game.
Rockford’s Jeff Glass, who made his AHL playoff debut for the Hogs, stopped 28 of 30 pucks to help the team earn its first-ever win in an elimination game and snap the Stars’ seven-game win streak. McKenna turned aside 33 of 36 in the opposite crease.