|Curtis McKenzie is stuffed by the Marlies. (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)|
Coach Desjardins summed up the contest, "We weren't quick enough tonight. They out skated us. When they're quicker than you, you're going to have trouble. They found a way to have legs better than we did."
Team speed, usually a Texas strength and a staple of their game, was non-existent at times against a hungry Marlies squad with their backs against the wall.
"For parts of the game, we were sitting back and hoping too much that something would happen," said Curtis McKenzie, who had the lone Stars goal. "We have to be hungrier around the net."
Toronto opened the scoring for a 13th straight contest and also collected the second tally as well. As in all prior games, the team that scored the second goal ended up winning.
Curtis McKenzie pointed to the team's desperation level, "Our desperation level wasn't high enough. We knew they'd have their best game of the series and we weren't where we wanted to be."
Along with team speed, Texas was clogged up on the power play, needing a late 6-on-4 goal to breakup the shutout. The Stars went 1-for-8 on the power play tonight.
"We didn't capitalize on the power play," said Desjardins. "Toronto took it to us tonight. It's up to us to see how we're going to respond."
It wasn't the first shot of the night, but Toronto got the first goal of the game for the 13th straight contest. Off a giveaway behind the net, Carter Ashton put the Marlies up 1-0 just under nine minutes in.
Texas was out shot 14-10 in the opening frame.
As has been key in each of the prior games, the second goal is the one that indicates the ultimate winner of the contest. It came on a power play off an ill-advised penalty by Cristopher Nilstorp. The Texas tender face washed Kevin Marshall and shoved him over, earning a roughing call. Trevor Smith would score from the low slot on the ensuing advantage. The puck dribbled in five hole on Nilstorp. It was a goal he should have had in more ways than one.
The Stars drew a 93 second 2-man power play in the second and couldn't convert. Toronto clogged the middle, and nothing would get through. Brett Ritchie had the best chance of the game and even thought he had the goal from the low slot, but MacIntyre snagged the puck.
As the period ended, Texas was beat on a faceoff in the Marlies zone, and Ashton and Spencer Abbott rushed up the ice 2-on-1. Against Maxime Fortunus, Ashton finished off Abbott's pass for the 3-0 lead after forty. Texas led the shots 22-20, but it was to no avail on the scoreboard.
Late in the game with the power play running so dry, Coach Desjardins mixed things up and tried the fourth line on the man advantage. He felt they "deserved a chance" after playing so well this series. It was some of the best power play time Texas had all night. The Stars were trying too much from the edges and weren't able to get interior on the Marlies in general. Clogged up was the best way to describe the PP unit.
With time waning, the Stars would find the net for a morale booster goal. Curtis McKenzie scored just his second of the postseason on a 6-on-4 power play, off the tip of a Maxime Fortunus point shot.
"It's something I need to do more of," admitted McKenzie. "I've had some chances but haven't been able to execute. It's nice to see one go in and hopefully that can roll over for tomorrow."
Tomorrow's game to decide the Western Conference crown will start at 7:30 PM.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Labrie, Guptill, Troock, Hulak, Vause, Wrenn, Byström, Desrosiers (scratched)
Klingberg, Dowling, Campbell, Petersen (injury)
Today's attendance was 4,852.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Toronto - June 2 2014