The Texas Stars used goals by Kevin Henderson, Patrik Nemeth and Travis Morin to power past the Toronto Marlies, 3-2, on Wednesday night, handing the Marlies their first home loss of the playoffs. The Stars skated into the Ricoh Center -- where Toronto had been absolutely dominant all postseason long -- and played almost as perfect a road game a team can play and now take a 2-1 series lead into tonight's crucial Game 4 matchup.
After seeing a volley of offense from both sides during the two games at Cedar Park, the Texas Stars deliberately slowed the game down on the road and seemingly frustrated the Marlies into submission on home ice. The Stars had become frustrated by magical goalie Drew MacIntyre and instead of focusing on volume, the Stars focused on tightening up their team game and on the quality of chances created -- and the tactic worked.
The scoring was back and forth, with Toronto getting on the board early in the game before Texas tied the early in the second period. Nemeth was all alone in the high slot and ripped a shot past a screened MacIntyre, capping off a couple of great shifts for Radek Faksa and the fourth line. The Stars then went into a defensive shell, allowing just five shots on goal over the next period and a half. Hendersen and Morin would both score in the third period, and Texas would survive a late push by Toronto to seal the win.
Highlights (the Marlies have their own Game in Six Minutes):
Some quick personal observations:
- Radek Faksa had another very strong game and while he is technically centering the 'fourth line', Willie Desjardins rolls all of his lines fairly evenly and Faksa and Stransky continue to be a formidable duo to deal with. Great news for those worried about the first round pick's development.
- Oleksiak recovered from a poor start to the game to have one heck of a second and third period. He was physical and engaged offensively, and made the key play on the game-winning goal by stealing the puck and sparking the rush up ice.
- Brendan Ranford (7G, 3A in 12 playoff games) is a very good young player and has come a long way from just being an extra body at development camp a few years ago. Kevin Henderson is also in this mold; two gritty and skilled players that have had a major impact on Texas' success in the postseason. We've seen undrafted players make an impact like this before and it will be interesting to see how Ranford's career progresses.
- Patrik Nemeth, ya'll.
- Brett Ritchie is ready for the NHL. So is Curtis McKenzie. Training camp is going to be interesting in a few months.