Despite being out played in the first three games, it appears that the Toronto Marlies aren’t ready to give up on this series just yet. Needing a much better effort and for the special teams opportunites to go in their favour, the blue and white got just that. An offensive explosion from their top forward and an aggressively controlled first half of the game lead to a 4-1 Marlies win to tie the AHL’s Western Conference Finals at two games a piece.
In a radical change from games prior, it was the Stars who got to an undisciplined start, taking two penalties in the first five minutes. Spencer Abbott took advantage of both of them, scoring his first two goals of the post season with wrist shots from the point and from the slot. Toronto picked up a couple more changes to score and didn’t convert, but put up an impressive overall period, outshooting Texas 11 to 6 over the first twenty.
Toronto remained in control for much of the start of the second period, but had an opportunity to run away a little bit, thanks to Texas taking two penalties in three seconds. Sure enough, with plenty of room on the 5-on-3, Abbott found his way into the slot to fire off his third of the night, completing an all-powerplay natural hat trick.
Texas put on the pressure in the late second and entire third periods, but the score refused to budge, even with players headed to penalty boxes. Just over 7 minutes left, the Stars pulled Cristopher Nilstorp for an extra attacker, which eventually lead to Jerry D’Amigo potting an empty netter. Drew MacIntyre’s bid for a shutout was spoiled in the dying minutes, however, as Radek Faksa beat him short side. The game ended without any more significant action.
- Drew MacIntyre made 27 saves on 28 shots. A big performance from him once again, kind of spoiled by the Faksa goal, but he was a major factor in delivering the win.
- You can’t say enough about Spencer Abbott’s output tonight. He’s the team’s best forward, but not their go-to shooters, and had no goals in these playoffs heading into tonight. To score a natural hat trick in a big game like this? Huge.
- The shots were 18-9 Toronto at the midway point of the second period, which is the best effort the team has put up in this series. Getting outshot 19-10 on the back leg, though? Not so much. They need more of the first than the second to keep this up.
- Peter Holland continues to have a point in every game he’s played in these playoffs, notching 6 goals and 5 assists in 8 games.
- Jerry D’Amigo’s empty netter gives him 6 goals and 14 points in 11 games, which continues to led the team.
- Game 5 is on Saturday afternoon, at 3PM. Game 6 and 7 (if necessary) are in Cedar Park, so this could be the last time the Marlies play at home this season.
Photo courtesy of Christian Bonin / TSGPhoto.com