Next up for the Texas Stars: The Calder Cup Finals and the St. John’s IceCaps. The Stars advanced to the AHL’s championship series with a 6-2 win over Toronto in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals Tuesday night at Cedar Park Center.
The Stars rallied from a 2-0 deficit Tuesday, scoring six unanswered goals including four in the third period. Brett Ritchie’s goal at 6:28 of the third period snapped a 2-2 tie and held up as the game-winner. Ritchie, Justin Dowling and Mike Hedden each had one goal and two assists in the game. Dustin Jeffrey tallied two goals and Matej Stransky also scored. Cristopher Nilstorp stopped 25 of 27 shots.
This will be the Stars second trip to the Calder Cup Finals in their five-year existence. They made it in their inaugural season (2009-10), losing to Hershey in six games. Their series with St. John’s opens Sunday in Cedar Park.
Tuesday’s game opened in familiar fashion. For the seventh straight time in the series the Marlies scored the first goal of the game. After Jerred Smithson won an offensive zone draw, Frazer McClaren scored off a shot from the top of the left circle to put the Marlies up 1-0 at the 2:19 mark of the first period.
The Marlies extended their lead to 2-0 just 23 seconds into the second period when Peter Holland directed a Carter Ashton pass on net off the rush, Nilstorp made the stop but then the puck found its way into the net.
Nilstorp had a couple of big stops just before the midway point of the period to keep the Stars within two goals and the Marlies held the 2-0 lead until late in the second, when the Stars struck for two goals in less than a minute to tie the game.
A little more than one minute after the Stars killed off a Toronto power play, Ritchie centered a puck from the corner to Hedden, who redirected the puck past Marlies goaltender Drew MacIntyre to make it a 2-1 game with 2:38 left in the period.
Just 51 seconds later the Stars scored on the power play to tie the game 2-2. After taking a pass from Dowling, Hedden sent a cross-ice pass to Jeffrey, who roofed a shot from the bottom of the left circle with 1:47 left in the second.
That set the stage for the Stars’ four-goal explosion in the third, which would propel them to the Calder Cup Finals.
With the Stars on the rush, Dowling set up Ritchie, who tapped the puck past MacIntyre from close range to put the Stars up 3-2 with 13:32 remaining. Just 17 seconds later, Stransky circled behind the net and scored off a shot from the right circle to make it a 4-2 game. Dowling tallied with 5:28 remaining to make it 5-2 and Jeffrey rounded out the scoring with a goal into an empty net.
*The Stars outshot Toronto 50-27. It was the third time in the series that the Stars hit the 50 shot mark.
*Brett Ritchie, Jamie Oleksiak and Maxime Fortunus led the Stars with five shots on goal each.
*The Stars were 1-4 on the power play and 4-4 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars have outscored their opponents 22-6 in the third period during the playoffs.
*Toronto scored first in all 14 of its playoff games.
*The Stars are now 3-0 all-time in Game 7’s.
*Texas forward Justin Dowling was back in the lineup after missing the last seven games with an injury. With Dowling in, Taylor Peters was a healthy scratch.
Calder Cup Finals Schedule
Game 1: Sun., June 8, St. John’s at Texas, 7:30
Game 2: Mon., June 9, St. John’s at Texas, 7:30
Game 3: Wed., June 11, Texas at St. John’s, 5:00
Game 4: Mon., June 16, Texas at St. John’s, 5:00
*Game 5: Tue., June 17, Texas at St. John’s, 5:00
*Game 6: Thu., June 19, St. John’s at Texas, 7:30
*Game 7: Mon., June 23, St. John’s at Texas, 7:30
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.