Marlies prevail in wild Finals opener

Photo: Christian Bonin

TORONTO ( Moore scored the go-ahead goal with 9:57 left in regulation and Toronto held on for a 6-5 win over Texas to open the 2018 Calder Cup Finals on Saturday afternoon.

Game 2 is set for Sunday in Toronto (4 p.m. ET, TSN2, NHL Network, Leafs Nation Network, NHL Network Radio).

Moore’s power-play goal put the Marlies ahead for good in a game they had trailed 1-0, 2-1, and 4-2, and sent Toronto to its 10th consecutive win during these playoffs and its 13th straight home playoff win going back to 2017.

Chris Mueller, a member of Texas’s Calder Cup championship team in 2014, led the Toronto offense with a goal and two assists in Game 1. Colin Greening and Dmytro Timashov tallied two assists each, and eight other Marlies had single points.

Travis Morin (2g, 1a) and Justin Dowling (1g, 2a) notched three points each for the Stars.

Texas converted on both of its power-play opportunities in the opening period to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. Morin snapped a shot over the glove of Garret Sparks at 6:19, and Curtis McKenzie beat Sparks blocker-side on a partial breakaway at 12:46.

In between, the Marlies got on the board when Justin Holl‘s centering pass from the corner hit a Texas defender in front and got past Mike McKenna at 8:32.

The Stars held that lead until Greening sent a pass from behind the net and found Frederik Gauthier, who scored the tying goal at 10:57 of the second period.

But Texas came right back 28 seconds later as Austin Fyten collected his second goal of the postseason, and Morin scored his second of the contest at 17:48 to give the Stars a 4-2 cushion.

The Marlies scored a big goal with 15 seconds remaining in the middle frame as Ben Smith sent a try from the corner that Mueller deflected past McKenna, cutting the deficit to 4-3, and Mason Marchment leveled the score again just 2:46 into the third, moments after Sparks denied McKenzie on a shorthanded bid.

Martin Marincin gave Toronto its first lead of the series at 4:55 of the third period, banging home a second-chance shot after finding himself alone in front. But Texas was quick to respond again, needing only 75 seconds to make it 5-5 on Dowling’s third postseason goal.

Sparks (11-2) finished with 32 saves on the night in the win for Toronto, while McKenna (11-5) stopped 28 shots in defeat.

NOTES: This was Toronto’s first-ever Calder Cup Finals win; the Marlies were swept by Norfolk in the 2012 championship series… Attendance was 8,127, second-largest ever for a Marlies game at Ricoh Coliseum (May 14, 2016 – 8,207)… This was the highest-scoring Game 1 in a Calder Cup Finals series since 1990, when the Springfield Indians defeated the Rochester Americans, 7-6… Toronto is the ninth team in AHL history to win at least 10 consecutive games in the same postseason; the record is 12, set by Hershey in 1988… The Marlies’ 13-game home winning streak in playoff action is three off the league record set by the Providence Bruins between 1997 and 2000… Game 1 winners are 62-19 all-time (.765) in Calder Cup Finals series.

2018 Calder Cup Finals (best-of-7)
N1-Toronto Marlies vs. P2-Texas Stars
Game 1 – Sat., June 2 – TORONTO 6, Texas 5
Game 2 – Sun., June 3 – Texas at Toronto, 4:00, TSN2, NHLN, LNN
Game 3 – Tue., June 5 – Toronto at Texas, 8:00, TSN2, NHLN, LNN, FSSW+
Game 4 – Thu., June 7 – Toronto at Texas, 8:00, TSN2, LNN, FSSW+
*Game 5 – Sat., June 9 – Toronto at Texas, 8:00, TSN2, NHLN, LNN, FSSW, FSSW+
*Game 6 – Tue., June 12 – Texas at Toronto, 7:00, TSN2, NHLN, LNN
*Game 7 – Thu., June 14 – Texas at Toronto, 7:00, TSN2, NHLN, LNN
*if necessary… All times Eastern