Tuesday night proved just how resilient the Stars really are.
Facing a win-or-go-home Game 6 of the Calder Cup Finals on the road against the best team in the league, Texas put in its best performance of the season, trouncing the Toronto Marlies 5-2 and forcing a decisive Game 7.
“We knew we were coming into this with our backs against the wall,” Stars forward Austin Fyten told Leafs Nation Network. “It’s going to be the same thing on Thursday. It’s going to be a battle. It’s going to be a war. That’s the way it’s been all series. We’re excited and we’re happy we got what we wanted.”
Game 7 will be Thursday at 6 p.m. in Toronto.
The Stars’ top line shined on Tuesday as Curtis McKenzie and Travis Morin each scored a goal and Justin Dowling finished with a pair of assists. Sheldon Dries scored his 10th goal of the playoffs while Fyten and Colin Markison also found the back of the net.
Mike McKenna returned to his previous playoff form after being pulled two periods into the Game 5 loss on Saturday night, stopping 43 of the 45 shots he saw, his third-highest save total of the playoffs.
Toronto outshot Texas 45-24 in the game, including a 16-4 advantage after a scoreless first period. Marlies starting goalie Garret Sparks was pulled after allowing four goals.
“I think he was pretty mad after last game, he didn’t have his best game,” Morin told Leafs Nation Network. “Every time he’s had a rough game, he’s responded and he’s done the same thing here tonight.”
The Stars didn’t have a power play chance, while Toronto went 0-for-4 with a man advantage.
The Calder Cup Finals have gone to seven games three times in AHL history, the last time being in 2003 and saw another Texas-based team, the Houston Aeros, take down a team from Ontario, the Hamilton Bulldogs.
The two teams have traded games throughout the series, most recently when the Stars won evened the series with a 3-2 win in Game 4 last Thursday. The Marlies then dominated Game 5, winning 6-2 in front of a sellout crowd in the last home game at HEB Center on Saturday.
Texas repaid the favor on Tuesday.
McKenzie scored his league-leading 11th goal of the playoffs six minutes into the second period and Morin and Fyten scored later in the period to give the Stars a 3-0 lead after 40 minutes of play.
Calle Rosen responded early in the third period for the Marlies but Dries scored a shorthanded goal less than two minutes later to restore Texas’ three-goal lead.
Toronto’s Justin Holl scored with an extra attacker with under five minutes to go before Markison sealed the game with an empty-net goal just over a minute later.