The Texas Stars and Toronto Marlies are headed to a seventh game. The Marlies defeated the Stars, 3-1, Monday night at Cedar Park Center to tie the Western Conference Finals at 3-3.
Game 7 is Tuesday night in Cedar Park.
“Our desperation level wasn’t high enough tonight,” said Texas forward Curtis McKenzie. “We knew they were going to have their best game of the series tonight since we had a chance to knock them out. We weren’t where we wanted to be. It’s a short turnover and we’ll have to be there tomorrow.”
Carter Ashton scored two goals for Toronto and goaltender Drew MacIntyre stopped 36 of 37 shots. McKenzie scored the lone goal for Texas. Cristopher Nilstorp stopped 22 of 25 shots.
The Stars had a 37-25 shots advantage in the game, but the Marlies controlled play early and built a 2-0 lead by early in the second period and then scored late in the second to make it a 3-0 game.
“We weren’t quick enough. They outskated us tonight,” said Texas coach Willie Desjardins. “For whatever reason we didn’t have our legs and they were a lot quicker. It doesn’t matter what you do when they’re quicker than you, you are going to have trouble.”
The Stars power play could have been a difference maker in the game, but went 1-8 and missed on a 93 second two-man advantage in the second while trying to cut into a 2-0 Toronto leas. The Stars had back-to-back power plays early in the third, including a 17 second five-on-three advantage, but couldn’t capitalize.
“They’ve got a great PK. All series they’ve been tough. They block a ton of shots and MacIntyre has been so solid in net,” said McKenzie. “We’ve got to find ways to get pucks by him, surround the net, get shots through and battle harder around the net.”
For the sixth straight game in the series, Toronto scored the first goal of the game. Ashton put a rebound into an open net 8:45 into the game to take a 1-0 lead.
The Marlies extended the lead to 2-0 with a power play goal early in the second period. After Nilstorp was called for roughing, Toronto captain Trevor Smith scored off a wide open shot from the slot at the 2:28 mark.
The Stars had a chance to cut into the lead when they went on a 1:33 five-on-three power play, but couldn’t get a puck past MacIntyre.
Toronto extended the lead to 3-0 with 56 seconds left in the second when Ashton finished off a two-on-one rush with Spencer Abbot.
The Stars had back-to-back power plays early in the third, including 17 seconds of five-on-three time, but couldn’t cut into the Toronto lead. The Stars had some good chances at even strength, but MacIntyre made sharp saves on Matej Stransky and Travis Morin.
The Stars finally broke through late in the period while on their eighth power play of the night and Nilstorp on the bench for an extra attacker. McKenzie tipped a Maxime Fortunus shot past MacIntyre with 3:25 left in the third.
But eight seconds later, Stars defenseman Patrik Nemeth took a penalty to put the Stars shorthanded for the next two minutes. The Stars killed off the Toronto power play, pulled Nilstorp again for an extra skater, but couldn’t cut into the Marlies’ lead.
And now it is on to Game 7 Tuesday night.
“Toronto took it to us tonight, and now it is up to us to see how we respond,” said Desjardins. “You don’t ever want to leave it to Game 7 because it is breaks here or there or something. You don’t want to leave it to that, but we have and now we have to make it work for us.”
*The Stars were 1-8 on the power play in the game and are now 3-33 in the series.
*Toronto was 1-4 on the power play in the game and is 6-23 in the series.
*The Marlies have scored the first goal in all 13 of their playoff games.
*Texas outshot Toronto 37-25.
*Curtis McKenzie led the Stars with 7 shots on goal.
*McKenzie snapped a 10 game goal scoring drought with his power play goal on Monday.
*Texas and Toronto both are 2-0 all-time in Game 7’s.
Texas Stars lineup
Curtis McKenzie – Travis Morin – Brendan Ranford
Mike Hedden – Dustin Jeffrey – Scott Glennie
Kevin Henderson – Chris Mueller – Brett Ritchie
Taylor Peters – 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.