Star burst sinks Marlies in Game 6

Photo: Christian Bonin

TORONTO ( … Texas scored three times in the second period and Mike McKenna made 43 saves as the Stars pushed the Calder Cup Finals to the limit with a 5-2 road victory over the Toronto Marlies on Tuesday evening.

The decisive Game 7 — the first Calder Cup Finals Game 7 since 2003 — will be Thursday night back at Ricoh Coliseum (7 p.m. ET, TSN2, NHL Network, Leafs Nation Network, AHL Live, NHL Network Radio).

Toronto controlled play through most of the opening period and outshot Texas by a 16-4 margin, including 12-0 over the final 13:45.

But the Stars grabbed a 1-0 lead at 6:46 of the second period when the Marlies were unable to clear the zone and Justin Dowling found Curtis McKenzie alone in front. McKenzie slid the puck past Garret Sparks for his league-best 11th goal of the playoffs.

Texas made it 2-0 when Sparks’ clearing try was intercepted by Dowling and Travis Morin cleaned up for his seventh goal of the postseason at 14:57.

Austin Fyten then out-muscled Colin Greening for a puck at the blue line, skated in and wired a shot past Sparks at 17:03, giving the Stars a 3-0 edge.

The Marlies broke through at 1:37 of the third period when Calle Rosen wristed a shot from the top of the left-wing circle that got through traffic and past McKenna (14-7). It was the fourth goal of the Finals for Rosen, who scored four times in 62 games during the regular season.

But Sheldon Dries got behind the Marlies and scored his 10th goal of the playoffs on a shorthanded breakaway at 3:08, putting the Stars back up by three at 4-1.

Toronto replaced Sparks with Calvin Pickard after the fourth Texas goal, then pulled Pickard for an extra attacker and cut the deficit to 4-2 on a goal by Justin Holl with 4:48 remaining.

The Stars withstood some more Marlies pressure before Colin Markison hit the empty net with 3:36 to play, sending the Finals to Game 7 for the first time in 15 years.

McKenna’s 43 saves included 19 in the third period, as the Stars improved to 4-0 this postseason when trailing in a series.

Sparks (13-5) finished with 13 saves on 17 shots; Pickard stopped six shots in relief.

NOTES: The last Finals to go seven games was also the only other Finals to feature a team from Ontario against a team from Texas (Hamilton vs. Houston)… Toronto allowed three goals in a single period for the first time since Apr. 7, when Rochester scored three times in the second during a 6-5 overtime win… Morin’s goal gives him 9-8-17 in 17 career Calder Cup Finals games… The crowd of 8,783 was the largest ever for a Marlies game at Ricoh Coliseum, shattering the record of 8,219 set in Game 2 last Sunday… The teams have alternated victories in the series, Toronto winning the odd-numbered games and Texas winning the evens… The Marlies were 0-for-4 on the power play in Game 6, falling to 1-for-16 in the series.

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