The Texas Stars hit the 50 shot mark for the third time in this season’s playoffs, and for the second time they lost. Goaltender Michael Hutchinson stopped 49 shots as the St. John’s IceCaps defeated the Stars, 2-1, Monday night at Cedar Park Center to even the Calder Cup Finals at 1-1.
“Their goalie played well,” said Stars forward Dustin Jeffrey. “We knew coming into this series that he was one of the hottest goalies in the league. We’ve got to put this behind us and be ready for Game 3.”
Game 3 is Wednesday in St. John’s Newfoundland.
Hutchinson was the story of Game 2. The 24-year-old netminder, who gave up five goals on 22 shots in Sunday’s Game 1 loss to the Stars, was brilliant Monday night. He was particularly sharp in the third, stopping all 20 shots he faced.
“I thought Michael was excellent,” said St. John’s coach Keith McCambridge. “When they were throwing a lot of pucks at the net with a lot of traffic, he came up with some huge saves that we needed. Felt he was where we needed him to be last night, but obviously didn’t get the results. But he was exactly what we had all season long and here in the playoffs. He was a big part of us having success here tonight.”
There were plenty of positives in the game for the Stars. They had a 50-35 shots advantage. They got another solid performance in net from goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp. But the end result just wasn’t there.
“I thought it was a good effort. I thought we played better than we did last night,” said Stars coach Willie Desjardins. “There’s nothing you can do. That’s the playoffs. You just have to forget about it and move on as quick as you can.”
The Stars controlled play early and had the first four shots of the game, but the IceCaps scored on their first chance of the night, taking advantage of a two-on-one rush. Eric O’Dell’s shot from the right circle got behind Nilstorp and Kael Mouillierat tapped it over the goal line to make it 1-0 IceCaps at 4:05 of the first period.
The Stars drew even 29 seconds into the second period when Brendan Ranford banged home the rebound of a Travis Morin backhand shot from the slot. But the IceCaps answered 44 seconds later when Blair Riley scored off a one-timer from the slot to make it a 2-1 game at 1:13 of the second.
The IceCaps dominated play in the second, but the Stars had some chances late. Hutchinson made a slick pad save on a Chris Mueller redirection in the final seconds of the period to keep it a 2-1 game heading into the third.
Hutchinson was flawless in the third, stopping 20 shots including a quality chance by Kevin Henderson from the left circle and then a slick stop on a wrap-around bid by Ranford. The Stars kept up the pressure to the final minute, but no luck.
Now, the series shifts to Newfoundland for Games 3, 4 and 5.
“We’ve just got to go in there and get Game 3, that’s the biggest part of it,” said Ranford. “We just have to go in there and get the first one and then worry about the other two.”
*Brendan Ranford’s goal was his 8th of the playoffs. He leads Texas in goal scoring and is tied for third in the AHL playoffs.
*Ranford led the Stars with 8 shots on goal Monday. Dustin Jeffrey, Travis Morin and Matej Stransky each had 6 shots on goal.
*The Stars had no power play opportunities in the game. It was the first time in this season’s playoffs they’ve not had a power play and only the second time in 94 games this season, including both regular season and playoffs.
*Former Dallas prospect and Texas Stars goaltender Tyler Beskorowany is the backup goaltender for St. John’s.
*Attendance for Monday’s game was 5,224.
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.