ST. JOHN’S, N.L. (theahl.com) … For the second game in a row, Texas Stars forward Travis Morin played the role of overtime hero. This time, it has his team one win away from a Calder Cup championship.
Morin’s second goal of the night 2:24 into overtime gave the Stars a 4-3 victory over the St. John’s IceCaps in Game 4 of the 2014 Calder Cup Finals at Mile One Centre on Monday night. With a 3-1 series lead, the Stars can secure their first league championship with another win in Game 5 on Tuesday.
Morin became just the third player in AHL history to score two overtime goals in the same Calder Cup Finals series, joining Bud Stefanski of the 1984 Maine Mariners and Doug Robinson of the 1963 Buffalo Bisons.
Morin added an assist for a three-point night, Curtis McKenzie had a goal and an assist and Brendan Ranford recorded three assists as Texas rallied from a 3-0 deficit by dominating the second half of the game.
Cristopher Nilstorp was sharp early in the Texas net — including a shorthanded stop on John Albert, who led the AHL with six shorthanded goals in the regular season — as St. John’s built a decided early edge in shots
But off the ensuing faceoff, Patrice Cormier won the draw and Adam Lowry sent it back to Ben Chiarot, whose drive from the point got past Nilstorp for his second goal of the postseason at 13:02 of the first period.
Shots wound up 21-5 in favor of St. John’s in the opening period.
Carl Klingberg gave the IceCaps their first two-goal lead of the series just 57 seconds into the second period, racing past the Texas defense, taking a lead pass from Kael Mouillierat and beating Nilstorp for his third goal of the playoffs.
Mouillierat then made it 3-0 with a goal during a two-man IceCaps power play at 9:21, snapping a one-timer from the bottom of the right-wing circle that trickled past Nilstorp after the goaltender got a piece of it. It was Mouillierat’s fourth goal in as many games during the Finals after scoring three times total in the first three postseason rounds.
After the IceCaps had built a 29-6 edge on the shot clock, the Stars tilted the ice back in their favor and drew within a goal before the second intermission.
First, Morin put Texas on the board with 4:27 to play in the second. Ranford worked the puck out of a scrum along the boards, moved behind the IceCaps cage and threw a pass in front that was snapped home by the regular-season AHL MVP for his fourth goal of the series and eighth of the playoffs.
Texas then cut the deficit to 3-2 when McKenzie chipped a bouncing rebound of Ranford’s shot over Michael Hutchinson with 1:51 remaining in the second, his third postseason goal.
Shots were 16-2 in the Stars’ favor to close out the period, cutting the IceCaps’ advantage to 31-22 through 40 minutes.
Just over two minutes into the third period, Hutchinson made a big stop on Ranford to preserve the one-goal lead, then denied Dustin Jeffrey‘s point-blank bid with 13:48 to play and Radek Faksa‘s attempt on a three-on-one opportunity about a minute later.
The IceCaps dodged another bullet with 11:14 to play when a shot by Ritchie was ruled following official video review not to have crossed the goal line behind Hutchinson.
Ritchie got another chance to tie and this time converted with 2:09 left in regulation. A clearing attempt by St. John’s was held in at the blue line and Ritchie slammed home a pass from Justin Dowling for his sixth goal of the playoffs.
Texas outshot St. John’s 15-3 in the third period and 37-34 through three periods, including 31-5 over the second half of regulation.
The winning goal came on what would be the only shot of the OT period. McKenzie chipped Maxime Fortunus‘s outlet pass ahead to Ranford, who found a wide open Morin in the right-wing circle. Morin fired it home past Hutchinson for his fifth goal of the series (including his third game-winner) and ninth of the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Nilstorp finished the night with 32 saves and improved to 12-5 on the postseason.
Hutchinson, who had won his six previous starts following a loss in these playoffs, made 34 saves and dropped to 12-8.
St. John’s was 1-for-4 on the power play, while Texas was 0-for-3 with a shorthanded goal against.
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 4, ST. JOHN’S 3 (OT)
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