This had to be a radically different game for the Toronto Marlies than previous ones. We knew it, they knew it, everyone knew it. Allowing 102 shots in six periods is not a model for success, especially when you’re sending back less than half of that. It’s a miracle they got a win out of their time in Cedar Park, and if they wanted to do more, they’d have to bring a different game. In some respects, they did, but the second half told the story, and it was another scenario where the Marlies outshot, outplayed, and outscored, leading them to trail a series for the first time in these playoffs.
Toronto actually kept the Stars from taking their first shot until six minutes into the game. Granted, they only pulled off one themselves, in that time, but they kept the period relatively calm, being out shot a mere 8-6. More importantly, they walked out ahead on the score sheet, thanks to a wicked point slapshot from TJ Brennan about nine minutes into the period.
The lead didn’t last very long into the second period, however. Just a few minutes in, Patrik Nemeth skated in and fired a wrister straight ahead and into the back of the net, beating Drew MacIntyre to tie the game. A pivotal moment came around the half way point, when Brad Ross was cross-checked from behind and into the boards, but without a penalty called on the play. Ross headed to the dressing room for evaluation. From this point on, Texas had total control of the period, not giving up a single shot until six minutes into the third period.
At this point, the game needed a hero, and the two teams struggled to decide who it would be. Kevin Henderson put a knuckler off of MacIntyre’s back and into the net, quickly followed by TJ Brennan blasting another slapper past Cristopher Nilstrop, only to be responded to again by Curtis McKenzie trickling one in as well. The Marlies pulled MacIntyre in the dying moments and put volume towards the net, but rarely on it, and not in it, meaning the game remained 3-2 when the clock hit zero.
- Drew MacIntyre was in net again (duh) and gave his team a chance to succeed once again, stopping 27 of 30 shots. It wasn’t his absolute best game; Nemeth’s goal was probably stoppable if repeated again and the second and third were tricklers, but he made a bunch of unexpected saves to make up for it.
- TJ Brennan’s slapper is so predictable, yet when he can pick a spot at that speed, it’s no wonder it remains effective. That’s his fifth and sixth goal of the playoffs, stacking on top of his 25 during the regular season to bring him to 31 in 86 games, which is an out of this world performance for a defenceman.
- Peter Holland’s goal-a-game streak ends at six. He did keep his point streak going, however, with an assist on the second goal.
- The special teams saw less work today, which is good. Toronto had to be more disciplined tonight, and they were, only having to kill three penalties, which they did successfully. No luck on as many powerplays, however.
- I’m sure the team was hoping for a loud, playoff atmosphere. What they got was a dead building. I hate to say it, but one of the worst crowds I’ve seen here in a long time. Maybe its the good weather, maybe the Leafs’ collapse burned everybody out, but there were sections with two people in them at puck drop. Announced attendance was 4043, but that seems high. There’s no reason for this city to not be supporting a competitive hockey team with potential NHLers, so if you have the chance, drop in this week.
- Game four is tomorrow night, same time (7PM), same place (Ricoh Coliseum).
Photo Courtesy of Christian Bonin / TSGPhoto.com