CEDAR PARK, Texas - Marlies goaltender Drew MacIntyre put on an impressive display on Friday, but he gave his Toronto teammates credit for making his job simple.
MacIntyre stopped 49 shots and the Marlies defeated the Texas Stars 5-1 in Game 1 of the American Hockey League's Western Conference final.
"I felt in control, so that was nice," MacIntyre said. "Then our guys were awesome. Blocking shots, I say it every game. These guys are fun to watch, it's awesome and they made my night a lot easier."
After stopping 12 shots in the first period, the 30-year-old goalie stopped 17 in the second and was continuously under siege in the third period — where he faced 21 shots.
"I knew that the (shots) number was going to get up there," MacIntyre said. "We all knew they were going to come in third period. They're a good team and they showed it."
MacIntyre's performance impressed Toronto head coach Steve Spott.
"(MacIntyre) is a guy who is now starting to do what I think he needs to do to be an NHL prospect," Toronto coach Steve Spott said. "And I don't care what his age is. He's a guy that is playing the best hockey of his career in a very, very good league. I think he should open up some eyes from not only our club, but 29 other clubs."
Although the Stars applied consistent pressure, Toronto broke the game open in the second period when T.J. Brennan and Peter Holland scored 13 seconds apart.
Brennan scored on the power play 7:15 into the second period when he fired a wrist shot past Texas goalie Cristopher Nilstorp. On the very next shift Holland forced a Stars turnover and beat Nilstorp to give Toronto a 3-0 lead.
Game 2 is Monday at the Cedar Park Center, where Toronto can extend its playoff unbeaten streak to 9-0. Texas had been a perfect 4-0 at home in the playoffs before the loss.
"I think their whole team played well," Stars coach Willie Desjardins said. "I think we had to be better early, once you get behind you're going to generate a lot and we had to come after them … they outplayed us and give them credit."
MacIntyre was tested early and often by Texas — the AHL's regular-season champions — but helped Toronto stay undefeated in the post-season with a couple dazzling stops.
Late in the first period he was caught behind the net while battling for a rebound. The puck kicked out to Stars forward Brett Ritchie in front of the net, but MacIntyre scrambled back to make the save.
Toronto played with the lead for most of the night after Kozun scored 3:11 into the game.
Kozun collected a pass from Trevor Smith in the neutral zone, skated between a pair of Stars defencemen and fired a wrist shot over Nilstorp's shoulder.
Texas finally broke MacIntyre's shutout bid with 4:27 remaining when Mueller scored on the power play.
Two minutes later Carrick scored into the empty net, followed by a short-handed empty-net goal by Smithson to give Toronto a 5-1 lead.
Nilstorp stopped 14 of 17 shots for Texas in the loss. The Swedish goalie also spent almost half of the third period on the bench after Desjardins pulled his goalie with 8:50 remaining while down 3-0.