ST. JOHN’S, N.L. … He was the AHL’s regular-season scoring champion and the league’s most valuable player. But Travis Morin may have scored his biggest goal of the year on Wednesday night.
Morin’s goal 7:20 into overtime gave the Texas Stars a thrilling 2-1 victory over the host St. John’s IceCaps in the pivotal Game 3 of the best-of-seven 2014 Calder Cup Finals at Mile One Centre.
The win gives the Stars a 2-1 series lead. Because of an arena scheduling conflict in St. John’s, the series will now idle until Game 4 on Monday.
After a scoreless first period in which Texas owned a 12-7 advantage in shots on goal, St. John’s had a pair of power plays early in the second but could not crack Cristopher Nilstorp.
Michael Hutchinson made a spectacular glove save on Morin just over nine minutes into the middle frame to keep the game scoreless, but Brett Ritchie finally broke the deadlock with 4:06 remaining in the second, banging home the rebound of a Justin Dowling shot for his fifth goal of the playoffs.
It was the first goal allowed by Hutchinson after 55 consecutive saves, going back to the opening minute of the second period in Game 2.
The Stars took the 1-0 lead into the second intermission, but the IceCaps had the better of the chances in the third before tying things up when Kael Mouillierat redirected a point shot by Zach Redmond past Nilstorp with 8:16 to play in regulation. It was the third goal of the Finals and sixth of the playoffs for Mouillierat.
St. John’s could not convert on a power play late in regulation, and despite a 17-6 edge in shots over the final 20 minutes, the IceCaps settled for a 1-1 draw heading into overtime.
Both teams had great chances to win in OT. The IceCaps killed off a Texas power play — thanks largely to a huge save by Hutchinson on a wide-open Ritchie from five feet out — and Patrice Cormier was sprung on a breakaway as he came out of the penalty box but was denied by Nilstorp.
Play came back up ice and Morin took a pass from Brendan Ranford and beat Hutchinson for his seventh goal of the 2014 postseason and his second game-winner of the Finals.
Nilstorp (11-5) made 31 saves on the night to earn the win, and has still not lost back-to-back decisions (excluding shootouts) since early November.
Hutchinson (12-7) turned aside 34 of 36 shots in the loss.
Texas was 0-for-3 on the power play, going to 1-for-5 in the series. St. John’s was scoreless in five chances, falling to 0-for-10 during the Finals.
2014 Calder Cup Finals – Series “O” (best-of-7)
W1-Texas Stars vs. E4-St. John’s IceCaps | Series Snapshot
Game 1 – Sun., June 8 – TEXAS 6, St. John’s 3
Game 2 – Mon., June 9 – St. John’s 2, TEXAS 1
Game 3 – Wed., June 11 – Texas 2, ST. JOHN’S 1 (OT)
Game 4 – Mon., June 16 – Texas at St. John’s, 6:00
Game 5 – Tue., June 17 – Texas at St. John’s, 6:00
*Game 6 – Thu., June 19 – St. John’s at Texas, 8:30
*Game 7 – Mon., June 23 – St. John’s at Texas, 8:30
*if necessary… All times Eastern