The Texas Stars topped the 50 shot mark for the second straight game against the Toronto Marlies and Sunday night it paid dividends. After scoring just once on 50 shots in Game 1 of the series, the Stars scored six times on 52 shots in Game 2, defeating the Marlies 6-3 at Cedar Park Center to even the Western Conference Finals 1-1.
“It was the lesson of the other game. We knew coming into the game that if we did what we did the game before we would most likely get some success,” said Texas forward Brett Ritchie, who scored twice in the game.
Scott Glennie also scored twice and Chris Mueller and Travis Morin tallied as well. Mike Hedden had three assists. Cristopher Nilstorp stopped 27 of 30 shots and came up with several big saves at key moments in the game.
“[Nilstorp] played a good game. He came up with some big saves,” said Texas coach Willie Desjardins. “He’s a good goaltender. He played good the other night, they just scored on their chances. Tonight he came up with a couple of big ones.”
The loss was the first in this season’s playoffs for Toronto, which came into the game with an 8-0 postseason record. The six goals by the Stars were the most scored against the Marlies, who hadn’t allowed more than three so far this postseason. The next three games of the series will be played in Toronto with Game 3 of the series on Wednesday.
“It’s huge to break that streak,” said Ritchie. “They might have a little doubt in their minds. It’s only one game though. They are going to go back to their barn and they’ll be a little more comfortable there. We’re going to have to be ready.”
The Marlies took the lead 4:22 into the game, scoring on their first shot for the second straight game. After a Jyrki Jokipakka turnover in the neutral zone, Marlies forward Jerry D’Amigo scored on a two-on-one rush to make it a 1-0 game.
Nilstorp came up huge later in the period, stopping T.J. Brennan with the Marlies on another two-on-one rush.
The Stars drew even late in the period with a power play goal. Mueller set up Ritchie, who scored from close range on Marlies goaltender Drew McIntyre to tie it 1-1 at the 16:51 mark of the first.
Nilstorp came up with another big stop in the second, denying Peter Holland’s close range bid off a rebound. A short time later the Stars took the lead when Hedden drove the net off the rush, got off a backhand shot and Glennie put home the rebound to give the Stars a 2-1 lead at 8:37 of the second. It marked the first time Toronto had been behind in a game in this season’s playoffs.
But Toronto bounced back to tie when Josh Leivo banged home a rebound with the Marlies on the power play to tie the game 2-2 at the 13:41 mark.
That goal would kick off a sequence that would see the two teams combine for four goals over the next 5:18, including three in a span of 2:14.
Ritchie would score his second of the night to put the Stars back on top at the 16:45 mark. After a Texas turnover, Peter Holland scored to tie it at 18:11 of the second and then Mueller scored at the 18:59 mark to put the Stars up 4-3. The Marlies came close to tying it in the final seconds of the period, but Nilstorp came up with a big stop on Stuart Percy with 14 seconds remaining to keep the Stars up one goal heading into the third period.
“He played unbelievable,” Hedden said of Nilstorp. “That save he made at the end of the second period really lifted the guys on the bench and carried the momentum going into the third period.”
Glennie scored with 5:53 remaining in the third to put the Stars up 5-3, tallying on a rebound after Hedden drove the net to create the opportunity. Morin sealed the win with an empty-net goal with 9 seconds remaining.
*The Stars have outshot Toronto 102-49 through the first two games of the series.
*Stars forward Chris Mueller has scored a goal in four straight games.
*Texas was 1-7 on the power play and 4-5 on the penalty kill.
*Taylor Peters was back in the lineup for the Stars. He hadn’t played since Game 2 of the first round series against Oklahoma City. Derek Hulak came out of the lineup to make room for Peters.
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