The Toronto Marlies scored two straight in the second period and that proved to be enough Tuesday night in Texas, as they take a 2-1 series lead after a final score of the same number. It was another tightly-contested battle between the two sides with neither giving an inch.
Following a scoreless opening period, Texas struck first as Sheldon Dries broke in alone less than a minute in to open the scoring.
Chris Mueller helped the Marlies pull even three minutes later, scoring after a great cross-ice pass from Andreas Johnsson. It was Mueller’s fourth of the playoffs and Ben Smith earned the secondary assist.
Ten minutes later, Calle Rosen fired a point shot that made its way through traffic and beat Mike McKenna for the eventual game winner. Trevor Moore and Pierre Engvall had the helpers.
Garret Sparks turned aside 19 of the 20 shots he faced to earn his twelfth win of the postseason.
While special teams had been important through the first two games of the series, there was only a single penalty called Tuesday night. The Marlies were unable to convert on that power play.
The series continues in Texas on Thursday when Game 4 goes at 8:00 PM EST.
Toronto: C. Mueller (4) (A. Johnsson, B. Smith), C. Rosen (2) (T. Moore, P. Engvall)
Goaltender: G. Sparks (19/20)
Texas: S. Dries (8) (R. Elie, B. Regner)
Goaltender: M. McKenna (22/24)
FROM THE SCORESHEET
Chris Mueller scored at 3:55 of the second period. Mueller has 14 points (4 goals, 10 assists) in 16 games this postseason.
Calle Rosen scored at 12:28 of the second period. Rosen has seven points (2 goals, 5 assists) in 16 games this postseason.
Andreas Johnsson recorded the primary assist on Mueller’s second period goal. Johnsson’s leads the Marlies with 16 points (6 goals, 10 assists) through 12 games this postseason.
Ben Smith registered the secondary assist on Mueller’s second period goal. Smith has 14 points (6 goals, 8 assists) in 16 games this postseason. Smith has recorded a point (5 goals, 4 assists) in eight straight playoff games.
Trevor Moore had the primary assist on Rosen’s second period goal. Moore has 15 points (5 goals, 10 assists) in 16 games this postseason. Moore is tied for third overall in assists in the AHL.
Pierre Engvall recorded the secondary assist on Rosen’s second period goal. Engvall has eight points (3 goals, 5 assists) in 16 games this poseason.
Garret Sparks stopped 19 of 20 shots he faced against the Texas Stars. Sparks is now 12-3 in the playoffs with a .921 Save Percentage and a 2.10 Goals Against Average.
Toronto was not called for a penalty and went 0-for-1 on the power play.
Toronto had a 24-20 edge in shots in all situations.
Adam Brooks led the Marlies with four shots on goal.
Goals: C. Grundström, A. Johnsson, B. Smith (6) Assists: A. Johnsson, T. Moore, C. Mueller (10) Points: A. Johnsson (16) PPG: D. Timashov (4) Shots: C. Greening (48) +/-: V. LoVerde (+15) PIMS: T. Dermott (18)
HEAD COACH SHELDON KEEFE
On tonight’s game:
I thought we had a really good first period in terms of just getting a feel for this building, this game. Obviously, it’s a good opponent so in terms of coming out of it 0-0, we had some really good chances, we had really good timing in the offensive zone – great start for us. And then they score. It has the ability when you’re on the road here to get out of control and snowball. But just the fact that our guys didn’t get rattled, just went out and played, scored a huge goal to tie it up and you really don’t look back from there.
On the Andreas Johnsson, Miro Aaltonen and Carl Grundstrom line:
Those guys were skating today. They’ve been skating and working all series. The opponents have been making it hard on them. They were working, they were skating. Andreas Johnsson just made an elite play to set up that first goal. That’s the kind of play that we need from him and when he does that, it makes a big difference for us. Obviously, it’s a huge moment in the hockey game for us.
On playing through pressure:
We would have liked a little more breathing room in the third there for sure. But that’s the nature of playoffs, it’s always going to be tight and we’ve been in tight games all playoffs. I think it’s part of our M.O. to put teams away.
On offensive strength from the defence:
I think the forwards are doing a great job establishing possession in the offensive zone and finding the defenceman and giving us the opportunity to make plays so I think it starts with them. We’re working as a good unit of five in the o-zone.
On bouncing back after Texas opened the scoring:
Whether you score a goal yourself or let up a goal, it’s the same game and you’re going to stick to the same game plan and for us it paid off and we were able to get two more and put them away.
On positive start to the game:
We came out similar to how we came out in Game 2 and were able to maintain it a little longer. It felt good. We didn’t like giving up the first goal but it was a nice bounce back there by Mueller.
On responding after Texas opened the scoring:
We responded pretty well. We had some desperation to our game. I think that showed throughout, guys were physical, guys were working and it was nice to come out on top.
June 7 at Texas – 8:00 p.m. ET
June 9 at Texas – 8:00 p.m. ET
*June 12 vs Texas – 7:00 p.m. ET
*June 14 vs Texas – 7:00 p.m. ET
The first two games of the Calder Cup Finals have been decided by a single goal and both the Toronto Marlies and Texas Stars are expecting another battle when the puck drops Tuesday night.
After combining for 11 goals in Game 1, the two sides fought in a defensive 2-1 final that Texas won to tie the series up.
As the series shifts to Austin on Tuesday, special teams are expected to continue being an important theme throughout the series. Texas have gone three-for-eight on the power play this round while Toronto is one-for-eight.
Ben Smith had the sole goal for the Marlies on Sunday, moving into a tie for first place in playoff goals with teammates Andreas Johnsson and Carl Grundstrom. Smith has five goals in his last six games entering play on Tuesday.
Johnsson continues to lead the Marlies in scoring this postseason, putting up 15 points (6G, 9A) in 11 games.
Travis Morin has led Texas’ offense throughout the series, scoring twice and adding two assists in the first pair of games. Justin Dowling also has four points with a goal and three assists in the series so far.
Puck drop is scheduled for 8:00 PM EST and fans can tune in on live on Leafs Nation Network, TSN 2 and TSN 1050 Radio.
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