“[The Texas Stars] defend extremely well,” said Keefe at the morning skate for the Marlies. “We had more than enough opportunities to get more than two goals. That’s what we need to get to, we need to get over that hump of two, we need to get three or more.”
Well, the Toronto Marlies certainly accomplished that with a 6-2 victory on the road in Game 5 of the Calder Cup Final.
The Marlies were reeling after a futile loss in Game 4 against the Stars. But a lucky bounce early in the game gave the squad life as they exploded for six goals on 30 shots, chasing Stars goaltender Mike McKenna out of the game, and taking a critical 3-2 lead in the series. Calle Rosen broke out with a two-goal performance, sealing the deal for the Marlies when they needed it most.
The Marlies will get two chances to hoist the Calder Cup at home. Game 6 will be on Tuesday night, with a potential Game 7 on Thursday night. These are the last two teams playing professional hockey right now, so you might as well be there!
Andreas Johnsson - Miro Aaltonen - Carl Grundstrom
Dmytro Timashov - Chris Mueller - Ben Smith
Pierre Engvall - Frederik Gauthier - Colin Greening
Mason Marchment - Adam Brooks - Trevor Moore
Martin Marincin - Justin Holl
Andrew Nielsen - Vincent LoVerde
Calle Rosen - Timothy Liljegren
With Dermott out of the lineup due to injury, head coach Sheldon Keefe was forced to shuffle his bottom-4 defensemen a little bit to accomodate the the replacement skater in Nielsen. Rosen walks over to Liljegren, in what looks to be a sheltered offense-first pairing, with LoVerde on babysitting duty with the youngster in Nielsen.
Garret Sparks once again in the net for the Marlies, he has been playing well for the Marlies, but his counterpart McKenna has been a step better all along the way. McKenna’s .933 save percentage in the playoffs is a solid .015% better than Sparks’ .918. Putting this in practical terms, the Stars netminder saves an extra goal every seventy shots compared to Toronto’s Sparks. For now, that's been the difference.
Almost immediately, the Toronto Marlies catch a break in the neutral zone. Offensive leader Johnsson picked the puck out of the feet of Brent Regner before speeding away and scoring on the breakaway. Johnsson’s eighth goal of the post-season is unassisted, and his seventh on the road. I think it’s safe to call him a road warrior.
Forty-seven seconds later, the Kid Line for the Marlies pounced on a reeling Stars group and capitalized on a rebound, giving the Marlies a commanding early lead. Marchment started the play by digging the puck out from the corner off the cycle, finding his centerman Brooks with a pass. Brooks spins and fires a shot on McKenna, creating a rebound that Moore muscles between the legs of the Texas goalie.
This was a classic Kid Line goal; Marchment doing the dirty work along the boards, Brooks finding space and creating a play, with Swiss-Army knife Moore picking up the leftovers.
Despite the lack of scoring for the next 10 minutes of the game, the Marlies did not slow their ferocious pace against the Stars. Shift after shift, the Marlies got chance after chance on McKenna’s net. The shots with five minutes left in regulation were a commanding 10-4 margin in favour of the Marlies, with most shots either creating rebounds, or nearly going in the net themselves.
Marlies kid line causing havoc each time they hit the ice.— Mark R (@MarkUkLeaf) June 10, 2018
The period ends with the shots 11-6 in favour of the Marlies, with scoring chances favouring the Marlies at 7-3 as well. However, by watching the game, it felt like the shots were 20-1 with the Marlies up four. For the first time in Texas, and possibly the series, we got to see the relentless, four-line, fast, and talented roster the Marlies had to offer. Andy Nielsen has been, dare I say it, the best offensive defenseman on the ice for the Marlies. He’s jumped in plays, communicated with his wingers to make sure things are covered defensively, and made his presence known with his dangerous shot.
The Stars started the second period by putting the first behind them and tried to jump on the Marlies early. They kicked off the period taking over the shot clock for the period (1-6) and they got rewarded with a goal. Sparks has been having trouble with traffic in front of him all playoffs and this game was no exception. With four or five bodies in front of him, Gavin Bayreuther’s point shot found a hole and beat a late-moving Sparks for the ever-dangerous 2-1 goal.
The Marlies attempted to get their groove back by throwing out the hard-working third line. That trio accomplished exactly what the team needed and more when Greening took a Mueller pass in the slot and fired home the third goal of the game for the team in white and blue. Timmy Liljegren’s point shot was hard and timely as Mueller had just separated himself from his defender and was in a good rebound position.
Almost exactly a minute later, Johnsson burst into the offensive zone with speed, stopped up to find teammates, and fed Rosen with a bullet of a pass. Rosen took the puck in stride, and in one motion, deked around his man before pulling McKenna out of his jock and scoring his third goal of the playoffs.
That goal wasn’t all Rosen had in his bag of tricks, as he showed off his skating ability and shot with an incredible end-to-end goal. Rosen picks up the puck in his own end, blisters through the neutral zone — dropping Jason Dickinson on his way — before stepping into the far faceoff dot and blasting home a wicked wrister past McKenna.
We should start calling him The Swedish DSP with numbers that wild.
Calle Rosen scored 4 goals on 157 shots in the regular season.— Mike Stephens (@mikeystephens81) June 10, 2018
He now has 4 goals on 41 shots in the playoffs.
Despite giving up an early barrage of shots in the first period, the Marlies played an incredible final 16 minutes, scored three goals, and finished the period with a respectable 11-13 shot differential. The Leafs Nation Network somehow has scoring chances as a stat and they determined that the Marlies led in that category 16-8 across the first 40 minutes.
After five goals on 22 shots, the Texas Stars pulled McKenna to start the third period. Landon Bow took over, giving the Stars’ MVP 20 minutes of rest before Game 6.
Landon Bow takes over in net for the start of the third period. https://t.co/caWjAYZ3Ib— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) June 10, 2018
Aaltonen catches the Stars jumping too far ahead into the offensive zone and sneaks away for a 2-on-1 with Grundstrom. A saucer pass later, the Swedish Terminator gives the Marlies a five-goal cushion.
Rosen and Brooks stop a breakaway from Remi Elie. They had no right catching up with the Stars winger but they did somehow.— Hardev Lad (@HardevLad) June 10, 2018
It was a good thing Grundstrom scored the 6-1 goal for the Marlies because the Stars came right back and put up their second goal of the game. Once again, the Stars created traffic in front of Sparks so that he couldn’t see a Matt Mangene shot deflect to Sheldon Dries before he put the puck into the Marlies goal.
And like most Marlies games, that's when the boys from Toronto shut down the Stars, holding them to only six shots in the period, and sealing the victory.
We’ll see you at Ricoh Coliseum on Tuesday night for Game 6. Doors open at 6:30pm ahead of the 7pm puck drop. You are more than welcome to come to the back of Section 102 and meet either Species or myself (or both of us!) between periods, we’d love to see you!