Drew’s the Glue: Heavily out-shot but not out-done, Marlies fly high in Texas
TORONTO - On Friday night, the Toronto Marlies began their series with against the West’s best Texas Stars. The Stars and Marlies split the season series at 2-2 this season and all four games were great match ups. The Marlies entered Friday’s game with an impressive 7-0 record in the post-season, haven’t trailed for a second in those 7 games, and were looking to continue those impressive streaks.
In the first period, Texas put pressure on fast and furious early but it was the Marlies who would again find the back of the net first. It was three minutes of play without a whistle until Trevor Smith made a great little slide pass at the blue-line to a streaking Brandon Kozun coming off the bench. A quick transition saw Kozun explode into open ice and snap home his fourth of the post-season past Christopher Nilstorp for an early 1-0 Toronto lead. Nilstorp has been the go-to guy for the Stars in the post-season with blue-chip goaltending prospect Jack Campbell out with an injury.
Toronto and Texas played a chippy first period. Texas would get a number of chances including a glorious chance by Brett Ritche on the powerplay, but somehow, after a mad scramble, Drew MacIntyre recovered and robbed Ritchie point blank. The Marlies would head into the 1st intermission with the 1-0 lead but trailed in shots 12-9.
The second period was calmer for the Marlies. Toronto got away from their game late in the first period, but got back into shape in the second and reaped the rewards. Midway through the second, on the powerplay, T.J. Brennan found the back of the net; Josh Leivo curled up and found the trailing Brennan, who joined the attack to snap a wrist shot off the post for a 2-0 Toronto lead.
Just thirteen seconds later, Toronto further padded the lead. This time it was Peter Holland capitalizing on a bad turnover by the Stars, beating Nilstorp up high for his fifth of the post-season, extending the Marlies lead to 3-0. Sam Carrick, in on the forecheck, got a piece of his stick on the outlet pass, gift wrapping a chance to Holland in the slot. Toronto would be outshot once again in the middle frame, resoundingly so at 17-6, but remained on top 3-0 after two.
The third period was like the first: In a word, crazy. Toronto and Texas both had some good chances but Texas dominated the offensive game for most of the third period. Drew MacIntyre looked like a road hockey goalie on some plays, but was his stand-on-his head self. Texas continued to pound Toronto with shots in the third and the animosity level and physicality picked up.
Stars’ coach Willie Desjardins then did something relatively unheard of, taking the Patrick Roy strategy to an extreme and pulling his keeper with eight minutes remaining in the third period. After a brief 6 on 4 powerplay (which Toronto killed successfully), the barrage of shots continued and the Stars finally got one past Drew MacIntyre. On a 6 on 4 with Trevor Smith in the box for putting the puck over the glass, Chris Mueller one-timed a seeing-eye cross-ice feed from Travis Morin to make it 3-1.
Still in the third, Chris Mueller had a great chance to bring the Stars to within one but missed a wide open net, which led to Sam Carrick landing a long empty-netter to make the lead 4-1. Jerred Smithson also added a long-bomb empty netter for a 5-1 final.
- Three really nice shots for three consecutive goals for the Marlies in this one, the Marlies have been bearing down on their openings really well in these playoffs.
- In his post game interview, Steve Spott mentioned the long layoff between series’ having an effect and said the Marlies lacked structure, played too East-West, and didn’t get pucks in deep behind the defence often enough, but was happy with the offensive opportunism.
- Texas has a very fast offensive break. Toronto did a good job at times of keeping the Stars to the outside, but 50 shots will perturb Steve Spott, as it should. Part of it is the score effects of establishing a three-goal lead half way through the second, no doubt, but there’s also no questioning there were too many quality chances forfeited.
- Part of the shots figures: Powerplays were 6-2 in favour of Texas, and they pulled their goalie with eight minutes to go in a full-ice press.
- Texas was 4-0 on home ice entering the game. Big win to steal in the away building.
- The Stars use their speed as an asset. Their big-body component allows them to work their way into the front of the net as well. There’s going to have to be tweaks to deal with this high-powered offense to find solutions other than just MacIntyre, as amazing as he was.
- It goes without saying Drew MacIntyre did everything but score a goal with 49 saves on 50 shots.
Toronto Marlies vs Texas Stars