Toronto Tops Texas Stars in Game 1 of Conference Finals
The Texas Stars controlled play Friday night and they dominated the shots on goal category, 50-19, but it didn’t add up to a victory in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. Toronto Marlies goaltender Drew MacIntyre stopped 49 shots and his teammates made the most of their opportunities in defeating the Stars, 5-1, at Cedar Park Center.
“We had to be better early. Once you get behind you are going to generate a lot. They were sitting back because we had to come after them,” said Texas coach Willie Desjardins. “They played real well. They outplayed us. Give them credit. “
“We had huge mistakes that ended up in the back of our net,” said Texas forward Chris Mueller. “We gave them Grade A chances and a lot of our chances weren’t Grade A chances.”
The Marlies scored on their first shot of the game and then scored two goals in a 13-second span in the second period to build a 3-0 lead. The Stars had a 21-4 shots advantage in the third period, but could only get a late power play goal with the goaltender pulled for a six-on-four advantage. Toronto scored twice into an empty net to seal the victory.
“We had lots of chances. We had four or five great chances with empty nets where we didn’t score,” said Desjardins. “I thought they played well and defended really well, but we had our chances and didn’t score.”
The Stars suffered their first home loss of the postseason and trail in a series for the first time. Toronto improved to 8-0 in the postseason and have now outscored their opposition 35-12. MacIntyre, the 30-year-old minor league veteran, lowered his goals against average to 1.49 and raised his save percentage to .955 in the postseason.
“He played good,” said Mueller. “I think we can penetrate more. We had a lot of shots from the outside. But he’s a good goalie.”
Mueller scored the lone goal for Texas. Cristopher Nilstorp got the start in goal and stopped 14 of 17 shots.
The Stars outshot the Marlies 12-9 in the first period, but Toronto scored on its first shot to take a 1-0 lead when Brandon Kozun split the Texas defense, broke in alone on net and beat Nilstorp with a wrist shot 3:11 into the game.
The Marlies extended their lead to 3-0 in the second, scoring two goals in a span of 13 seconds. T.J. Brennan scored from the slot off the rush with Toronto on a power play at the 7:15 mark and then after a Texas turnover, Peter Holland scored from the slot at the 7:28 mark to make it a 3-0 game.
Shots were 21-5 in favor of the Stars in the third, but they still struggled to crack MacIntyre. The Stars went on a power play midway through the period and halfway through it – with just under nine minutes left in the game – they pulled Nilstorp for a six-on-four advantage. They still couldn’t score. They kept Nilstorp on the bench, got another power play with five minutes left and finally broke through when Mueller scored off a one-timer from the left circle with 4:27 remaining that made it a 3-1 game.
But the Marlies sealed the win with empty net goals by Sam Carrick and Jerred Smithson to make it a 5-1 final.
*The Toronto Marlies have not trailed in a game so far this postseason.
*Toronto is 5-0 on the road in the playoffs and has outscored the opposition 25-9.
*Texas was 1-6 on the power play.
*Toronto was 1-2 on the power play.
*Texas forward Mike Hedden and Toronto forward Jerry D’Amigo both had seven game points streaks snapped.
*Justin Dowling and Toby Petersen also were out due to injury for Texas.