June 02 2014 09:07PM
The Toronto Marlies needed a more disciplined, closer game if they wanted a chance to bring this series to seven games, let alone head to the Calder Cup Finals. They definitely got it, at least for a period and a bit. Things began to unravel, but at that point, the Toronto lead was too big to blow, as the blue and white forced Game 7 with a 3-1 win.
Just like in every game during these playoffs, the Marlies were first to score. This time Carter Ashton was the one to put the puck in the net, taking advantage of a scramble to get his third goal of the year. It was the only one of the period, but most importantly, it was the tangibly positive moment in a very positive period, where Toronto outshot their opponents and stayed out of the box entirely.
Early in the second, it looked like the momentum was going to continue. Cristopher Nilstorp seemed unamused and went after Kevin Marshall with a slash, giving the Marlies their second powerplay of the game. After thirty seconds, Trevor Smith finished off Peter Holland and Sam Carrick's tic-tac-toe play to bring the game to 2-0. Things began to unravel midway through the period, as the Marlies closed the period with three consecutive penalties, but Drew MacIntyre was equal to the task. As luck would have it, Toronto was actually the team to capitalize before the buzzer, as Ashton scored his second of the night by putting home a slick saucer pass from Spencer Abbott.
The third period was controlled by Texas, and another four Marlies penalties definitely didn't help that cause. The Stars went for the extra attacker with a little over five minutes to go, and Sam Carrick's hook turned the play into a 6-on-4 situation. This lead to Curtis McKenzie breaking MacIntyre's shutout, but that was the most damage the Stars could ultimately do before the game ended.
Drew MacIntyre had a world-class performance. This is almost becoming stale news at this point. 36 saves on 37 shots, breakaway saves, multi-rebound saves, big glove saves, the usual. He's the MVP and showed it again tonight.
Polar opposite performance between periods 1 and 2/3. The first period looked like a team that could win this series handily. Everything else was the same "kicking and screaming" stuff we've seen all series. Shots in the final 40 were 27-11 Texas, helped by the 8-3 penalty gap.
What made that survivable was a 7 for 8 performance by the PK unit. They looked good out there, especially when you consider the one goal against was late in the game on a 6-on-4.
Carter Ashton needed to get on the scoreboard tonight after a not-so-hot Game 5. He wasn't a total offensive pest in this game either, with those being his only two shots, but that's the difference between a win and OT, so you take the hot stick as it shows up.
Peter Holland returned to the statsheet after ending his point streak in the last game, getting assists on the first two goals.
Trevor Smith really showed up, and showed why he's wearing a C on his chest. Lead the team in shots and was active on both sides of the ice.
Frazer McLaren came in for Josh Leivo tonight. I suspected we may see McLaren to add some toughness, but I didn't expect Leivo to draw out. There's no performance reason for him to be, and it was mentioned that he had an injury, but if he does, it was suffered or noticed after Game 5; he played that game in full and Spott didn't mention it.
Game 7 is tomorrow at 8:30 PM. Winner heads to the Calder Cup Finals.
Photo courtesy of @TexasStars