It’s down to a best-of-three between the Texas Stars and the Toronto Marlies in the AHL’s Western Conference Finals. The Marlies evened the series at 2-2 with a 4-1 victory at Ricoh Coliseum Thursday night.
The Marlies scored three times on the power play, all of them off the stick of forward Spencer Abbott, to build a 3-0 lead 27 minutes into the game. Jerry D’Amigo scored a late empty net goal to seal the victory for the Marlies, who received a 27-save effort from goaltender Drew MacIntyre.
Radek Faksa scored the lone goal for the Stars. Cristopher Nilstorp stopped 24 of 27 shots. Texas was 0-5 on the power play and 3-6 on the penalty kill.
Game 5 of the series is Saturday afternoon in Toronto.
The Stars got into early penalty trouble Thursday, taking two minors in the first four minutes of the game and Abbot and the Marlies made them pay. With Jamie Oleksiak in the penalty box for cross checking, Abbott beat a screened Nilstorp with a wrist shot from the point 1:36 into the game.
After Kevin Henderson headed off the ice for roughing, Abbot struck again, knocking home the rebound of a T.J. Brennan shot to make it a 2-0 game at 5:14 of the first period.
Abbot scored his third of the night 7:05 into the second period and with the Marlies on a five-on-three power play, skating into the slot and beating Nilstorp with a wrist shot to make it a 3-0 game.
The Stars made a strong push in the first half of the third period, but MacIntyre made several sharp saves, including a couple on Stars forward Curtis McKenzie.
The Stars started pulling Nilstorp for an extra attacker with just under eight minutes remaining and after they missed on their fifth power play of the night, D’Amigo scored into the empty net to make it a 4-0 game with 3:29 remaining.
Faksa scored from the slot with 1:42 remaining to spoil MacIntyre’s bid for a shutout.
*Toronto has scored first in all 11 of its playoff games this season.
*Shots were 28-28 in the game.
*Travis Morin led Texas with 5 shots on goal. Curtis McKenzie had four.
*Texas’ first goal in Wednesday’s game was changed from Patrik Nemeth to Radek Faksa. With his goal in Thursday’s game, Faksa has scored four goals over the last five games.
*Spencer Abbott’s three goals Thursday were his first three goals of the playoffs.
*The winner of the Texas-Toronto series will play the winner the Eastern Conference Finals series between St. John’s and Wilkes-Barre. St. John’s leads that series 3-1.
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
Jamie Oleksiak – Cameron Gaunce
Patrik Nemeth – Jyrki Jokipakka
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.