The AHL’s MVP and top scorer in both the regular season and playoffs came up big Wednesday night in Game 3 of the Calder Cup Finals. Travis Morin’s goal at 7:20 of overtime lifted the Texas Stars to a 2-1 victory over the St. John’s IceCaps at Mile One Centre. The Stars now lead the series 2-1.
Morin’s goal came just seconds after Stars goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp, who made 31 saves, stopped Patrice Cormier on a breakaway. The Stars headed the other way in transition and Brendan Ranford took a drop pass from Curtis McKenzie and then sent the puck to Morin, who redirected it past IceCaps goaltender Michael Hutchinson.
“Nilstorp came up with a huge save on that breakaway,” Morin said on the Leafs TV postgame broadcast. “We kind of got the transition off that, got an odd-man rush and Ranford found me with a great backdoor pass.”
That goal capped off an overtime that saw Hutchinson make a spectacular save on Stars forward Brett Ritchie just moments before Cormier’s breakaway. A few minutes earlier the IceCaps thought they had the game won, but the referee had blown the play dead as the puck was being poked from under Nilstorp and then knocked into the net by the Josh Lunden.
It was a game that saw the Stars dominate the first two periods and grab a 1-0 lead on a goal by Ritchie and the IceCaps control the final 20 minutes and tie the game to force the extra period before a sellout crowd of 6,287 in St. John’s.
“We knew this was going to be a tough place to play,” said Morin. “They play well here. Obviously, they have great fan support. It’s a great building to play in. We enjoy the challenge. Last series we went into Toronto and won Game 3 when we had to. They played a hell of a third period to fight back and tie it up. Then Nilstorp makes a great save and then we find a way to get one.”
The Stars had a 12-7 shots advantage in a scoreless first period. They killed off two IceCaps’ power plays early in the second and dominated play the rest of the way, outshooting the IceCaps 14-6. The Stars then broke the scoreless tie late in the second when Ritchie banged home the rebound of a Justin Dowling shot with 4:06 left in the period to put the Stars up 1-0.
St. John’s controlled the third period, outshooting the Stars 17-6 and getting the equalizer when Kael Mouillierat tipped in a Zach Redmond point shot to make it a 1-1 game with 8:16 left in regulation and get the game to overtime.
The two teams will have a few days off before Game 4, which won’t be played until Monday due to a medical trade show that is being held at Mile One Centre.
*The Stars improved to 4-0 in overtime in the playoffs.
*Travis Morin became the fourth player to score in OT for the Stars in this year’s playoffs. Dustin Jeffrey, Brendan Ranford and Chris Mueller are the others.
*Texas goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp is 3-0 in overtime this season for Texas. Jack Campbell is 1-0.
*Texas outshot the IceCaps 36-32.
*Derek Meech led the Stars with 7 shots on goal.
*Texas was 0-3 on the power play and 5-5 on the penalty kill.
*Morin has three goals in three Calder Cup Finals games.
*IceCaps forward Kael Mouillierat has scored a goal in three straight Calder Cup Finals games.
Texas Stars lineup
Curtis McKenzie – Travis Morin – Brendan Ranford
Dustin Jeffrey – Chris Mueller – Scott Glennie
Mike Hedden – Justin Dowling – Brett Ritchie
Kevin Henderson – Radek Faksa – Matej Stransky
Patrik Nemeth – Jyrki Jokipakka
Jamie Oleksiak – Cameron Gaunce
Derek Meech – Maxime Fortunus
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.