Though Kansas City had beaten the Allen in all four previous meetings this season, and the struggling Americans are buried in the cellar of the Western Conference, the Mavericks surely viewed their longtime bitter rival as a dangerous foe Friday at home.
After successfully killing a handful of penalties into the second period, the Mavericks got their offense rolling and cruised to a 6-2 win at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
Kansas City (13-5-1-1), which entered Friday in sixth place in the conference and fourth in the Mountain Division following a shootout loss at Indy, the team’s fourth loss in five games, welcomes Allen again Saturday at SEC Arena.
David Dziurzynski, playing in his 500th career professional hockey game, and Cliff Watson scored two goals apiece for Kansas City, and Rocco Carzo and Willie Raskob each tallied a goal and three assists. Gaoltender Ben Halford stopped 25 of 27 shots to earn his third win in five starts.
“Every game’s a big win, and you need to get the points when you can,” Carzo said. “At the end of the season, when you’re fighting for that last playoff, those points are big.”
“It feels good; it’s been a long time coming, and to have two goals on top of that,” Dziurzynski said of his career milestone, which comes in a season in which he’s teammates with his brother, Darian. Dziurzynski has played 26 games in the NHL and now 37 in the ECHL, as most of his career has been in the American Hockey League.
“We were ready for (the Americans),” Dziurzynski said. “They’ve got a lot of size, but we took it right to them.”
Watson nearly got the scoring spree started a minute earlier in the second when his shot past the circle went off the crossbar, but the Mavericks went ahead for good at the 7:13 mark when Dziurzynski buried a loose puck off a scramble.
Before that tally was fully announced, at the 7:41 mark, Watson found the net, wristing in a shot from the right side off Carzo’s pass from the middle.
Soon after, Carzo got penalized for a hold on an Allen breakaway. But the Mavs killed that penalty without much incident, and when Carzo got out of the box, he immediately received a pass from C.J. Eick at center ice and a free path to the goal as his wrist shot beat Jeremy Brodeur to the stick side.
Before Carzo’s goal, the Mavericks had killed five power plays while yielding just nine shots on goal in 31 minutes, including 30 seconds of 5-on-3 play early in the second period. A sixth penalty kill came in the game’s final 22 seconds.
“We were just aggressive,” Mavericks coach John-Scott Dickson said of his team’s penalty kill. “We were taking lanes away, got sticks on the puck, and we were forcing things to the outside.
“You’re going to get momentum off of that. The goalie makes a big save, and you can build off that.”
At the 15:33 mark of the second, the Mavericks had two minutes of a 5-on-3 power play thanks to an unsportsmanlike penalty on Jacob Duty after play stopped for a teammate’s slashing penalty. With 11 seconds left on that advantage, Watson hit a one-timer past Brodeur off Greg Betzold’s pass.
Allen got on the board at the 18:48 mark courtesy of Zach Pochiro, but even that moment proved costly for the Americans.
The Mavericks’ Zach Fischer exchanged a light shove while skating past the Allen celebration (he ultimately got penalized for slashing), and as he passed the Allen bench, the Americans’ Garrett Clarke swung his stick across Fischer’s chest. Fischer quickly turned back but was held off, and Clarke’s action didn’t go unnoticed, as he received a five-minute major and match penalties for spearing.
The third period started 4-on-4, and with Allen still a man down serving Clarke’s major penalty, Raskob and Dziurzynski tacked on power-play goals 68 seconds apart to make it 6-1. For Raskob, who entered the game with a team-high 13 assists, it marked his first goal of the season.
ERNST RECALLED: Mavericks forward Jordan Ernst we recalled earlier Friday by the Stockton Heat, the Mavericks' AHL affiliate.
Ernst, a 21-year-old from Mokena, Ill., had notched a goal in back-to-back games for Kansas City, giving him three goals and six assists through 13 games with a plus-5 rating.