|(credit: Toronto Marlies)|
The Stars received contributions from everywhere in the lineup. Sheldon Dries scored a shorthanded goal in the third period, notching his tenth goal of the postseason. Curtis McKenzie's opening goal gave him eleven for the playoffs. Goaltender Mike McKenna turned in a monstrous effort, stopping 43 of 45 shots.
The first nine minutes of play were brisk and competitive, with quality chances going both ways. The Stars generated two good looks on the rush coming from Justin Dowling and Travis Morin. At one point, the shots on goal were tied at 4-4. Then the Marlies turned on their forecheck and forced the Stars to take a delay of game penalty. It would result the Marlies taking control of the game for the rest of the period.
Though the Stars managed to kill the penalty while only ceding one shot on goal, they gained no meaningful zone time during the ensuing shifts and struggled to solve the puck pursuit of Toronto. Neutral zone turnovers and poor breakout attempts led to quality chances against McKenna, who handled himself admirably all game, keeping the game goalless at first intermission.
The Marlies ended up outshooting the Stars 12-0 over the latter thirteen minutes of the period. The script would quickly flip.
The Stars got their second period push going by being harder on pucks. Nearly seven minutes in, they dialed up their own forecheck and forced the Marlies into a defensive zone turnover, leaving McKenzie 1-on-1 with Garret Sparks. McKenzie made Sparks overcommit on the initial move and find twine with his forehand, drawing the ire of Toronto fans who felt he had committed a penalty behind the net.
Matt Mangene nearly netted the second goal on the next shift, but he had a tough angle on the yawning net and only found the post. Morin wouldn't miss on his chance. The Stars dumped the puck in on Sparks near the fifteen minute marker to force him to make a clearing attempt. Dowling came hard on the forecheck and disrupted the clear, taking the puck to the crease. Morin was there to clean up Dowling's offering and push the game to 2-0.
The silence at the Ricoh Coliseum was palpable when Austin Fyten provided some secondary scoring and gave the Stars a three goal lead with three minutes left in the middle frame. Fyten earned it by stripping a puck in the neutral zone and taking it all the way for a short side tally.
It took less than two minutes for the Marlies to respond in the third period. Calle Rosen found the back of the net from the left circle while McKenna was being heavily screened by Carl Gundstrom. The crowd back into it, the Marlies seemed to be onto something when they drew a penalty one minute later on Reece Scarlett.
As has been a motif all series, the Stars did not benefit from any whistles and did not go on the power play once. They did, however, tilt the special teams battle in their favor on the ensuing penalty kill. After McKenna continued to be brilliant while Toronto was forcing traffic towards his crease, Dries sprung loose on the clear and left no doubt on his short side marker that has become a favorite shot of his. Restoring the three goal lead took the wind right back out of the building. The tally led to Calvin Pickard replacing Sparks in net.
With five minutes to go in the game, the Marlies pulled Pickard for the extra attacker and found success by once again getting bodies to the net. Justin Holl's shot from the point made its way through traffic to cut into the lead. Any momentum gained from the marker was quickly snuffed out by Colin Markison's empty net goal one minute later.
Game 7 will be on Thursday evening at 6:00 PM CDT.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
O'Brien, Payne, Calderone, Kelleher, Rallo, Hansson, Paliotta, Robertson, Laberge, Desrosiers, Gurianov, Caamano (scratch)
Tonight's attendance was 8,783.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Toronto - June 12 2018