Radek Faksa’s Late Third Period Goal Spoils Toronto’s Shutout Bid
TORONTO, ON – Radek Faksa scored his third goal of the playoffs, but Spencer Abbott had a natural hat trick, scoring three power play goals to lead the Toronto Marlies to a 4-1 win over the in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals on Thursday night at Ricoh Coliseum. The best-of-seven series is now tied at two games apiece.
After suffering their first home loss of the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs, the Marlies took very little time grabbing the lead for the 11th consecutive time in the post-season. The Stars took a penalty in the opening minute of play and Marlies forward Spencer Abbott scored at 1:36, snapping a shot from the blue line into the top left corner of the net, beating a screened Cristopher Nilstorp for a 1-0 lead. Abbott did it again on the power at 5:14, this time being in the right spot to score on a rebound from a T.J. Brennan one-timer from the blue line.
Abbott continued his performance as a one-man wrecking crew in the second period. With two Stars in the penalty box, the Marlies had a lengthy five-on-three advantage and Abbott completed his natural hat trick with a wrist shot from the slot into the upper right side of the net, past a helplessly screened Nilstorp at 7:05. Texas picked up the pace later in the period, but Toronto goaltender Drew MacIntyre firmly turned away everything that was sent in his direction.
In the third period the Stars tried to rally, but MacIntyre came up with some big saves to keep them off the scoreboard. Texas pulled Nilstorp with just under eight minutes remaining and he was off the ice for nearly four minutes before Jerry D’Amigo scored an empty net goal from the red line at 16:31 for a 4-0 lead. The Stars would not quit, however, and rookie Radek Faksa would spoil MacIntyre’s shutout bid with just 1:42 left in regulation. Fellow rookie Matej Stransky blocked a clearing attempt at the right point along the boards and fed Faksa in the slot, who snapped the puck under the blocker of MacIntyre for his third goal of the playoffs and a 4-1 final score.
Drew MacIntyre (9-2) did not get the shutout on the night, but turned in another strong performance, stopping 27-of-28 shots to record his ninth win of the playoffs in goal for Toronto. Cristopher Nilstorp (7-3) was also very good on the night, but did not get much help, as he made 24 saves on 27 shots faced and took the loss in net for Texas. The shots were even at 28-28 on the night and the Marlies were 3-for-6 on the power play. The Stars were 0-for-5 with the man-advantage.
The Texas Stars and Toronto Marlies will play Game 5 of the 2014 Western Conference Finals on Saturday, May 31st at 2:00 p.m. CT at Ricoh Coliseum. Then the series heads back to Cedar Park Center for Game 6 on Monday, June 2nd at 7:30 p.m. CT. If necessary, Game 7 will be on Tuesday, June 3rd, also at 7:30 p.m. CT. Texas Stars season ticket packages for the 2014-15 season are on sale now. For more information, call (512) GO-STARS (467-8277) or visit www.TexasStarsHockey.com.
Photo credit: Brad White/Toronto Marlies