Saturday, May 10, 2014

Nilstorp Shuts Out Griffins, Puts Texas Up 2-0 in Series

Brendan Ranford had a pair of goals on the night
(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Cristopher Nilstorp got his crack at the Grand Rapids Griffins tonight and put up a goose egg, stopping all 30 shots he faced for his second AHL playoff shutout and first of this postseason. Brendan Ranford and Justin Dowling each had a pair of goals as the home team cruised to a 4-0 victory and a 2-0 series lead over the defending champion Grand Rapids.

"We're a good home team and we feed off the crowd here," said Dowling, who scored his two goals in three minutes in the second period. "Especially at home, we're a quick team. We're used to the ice. We get in on the forecheck and turn over a lot of pucks. When we have puck possession we tend to get a lot of chances and we're bound to put a few in."

Nilstorp didn't have to steal the game; the offense was there. However, it was a solid performance from the Swede in his first game action in ten days.

"Nilstorp was lights-out tonight," said Ranford, who set a Stars record for goals in consecutive playoffs games with his fourth tonight. "[With Campbell,] we have the best one-two punch in the league."

The Stars threw 18 shots on Petr Mrazek in the first period, but he stood tall for most of it. The final minute saw Brendan Ranford score his fourth of the playoffs. It was an easy tap-in at the end, but Ranford took the punishment in the corner to start the play toward the net.

Ranford narrated the play, "It was a good play by Morin to get it right back to me. Their defense made a nice play to take the pass away. McKenzie just battled and got a shot on net. I just tried to get a stick on it and it eventually went in."

It was an especially important goal for the Stars as they were about to head into the locker room unrewarded for their hard work in the period.

Coach Desjardins agreed, "We played hard in the first and didn't have anything to show for it. [Grand Rapids] takes it hard when they get scored on. They're a proud team. It's deflating to get scored on [late in the period]."

The Griffins came out shooting in the second, leading the shots in the frame 13-12. Texas would take the advantage though with Justin Dowling scoring his secodn and third of the postseason within three minutes of each other.

"I don't know if I've had a stretch like that in the American League," said Dowling.

The first goal was a backhander over a sprawled out Mrazek. Dowling's initial shot had rebounded to Kevin Henderson, who also had his shot rebuffed. Dowling followed the play and got the goal on the third effort into a wide open net. A few minute later on the power play, Dowling scored from the hashes thanks to a screen by Hedden.

Physicality stepped up in the game, both at and away from the net. There were some questionable calls and others obvious, including a rarely-seen clipping call. None of the marginal calls ended up affecting the final score as Texas got the only PPG of the night.

Brendan Ranford bookended the scoring with his fifth of the playoffs halfway through the third period. Curtis McKenzie dished around a defender to Ranford, who cut right to left across the crease of Mrazek.

Ranford said, "Coming down the right side, I was just trying to beat him to the far post. I just got around him."

The fourth goal was the final one as Grand Rapids did not even attempt to pull Mrazek for the extra skater in the dying minutes of the game.

Game 3 is Tuesday night in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-Ranford
Hedden-Dowling-Henderson
Jeffrey-Mueller-Glennie
Petersen-Faksa-Stransky

Oleksiak-Gaunce
Meeche-Fortunus
Jokipakka-Nemeth

Nilstorp

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Labrie, Guptill, Desrosiers, Troock, Peters, Vause, Wrenn, Byström (scratched)
Klingberg, Hulak, Ritchie (injury)

Travis Morin had two assists on the night. He is tied for second in the league in postseason scoring with eight points. Dowling is just behind him, tied for 6th with seven points. Ranford has six points, tied for 10th.

Today's attendance was 4,635.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Grand Rapids - May 10 2014

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