Having not played against the Western Conference champions this season, it took some time for the Toronto Marlies to settle in against the Texas Stars.
"There are a lot of chunks in this game that weren't very good for us," Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe said following a come-from-behind 6-5 win over the Stars on Saturday in Game 1 of the American Hockey League's Calder Cup final. "It was ugly for sure, but we're up one, and we're going to take it."
Trevor Moore scored the game-winning goal at 10:03 of the third period to help Toronto erase a two-goal deficit.
"Mules [Chris Mueller] made a good pass," Moore said of his goal.
A sweet first shot with the brand new stick off the bench.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MarliesLive?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MarliesLive</a> <a href="https://t.co/4wBmr5Wv0d">pic.twitter.com/4wBmr5Wv0d</a>—@TorontoMarlies
It was part of a three-point night for Mueller, who scored the Marlies' third goal of the game late in the second period to kick off the Toronto comeback.
"He got a piece of my shot to deflect it in," said Ben Smith, who was temporarily credited with the goal before officials changed it back to Mueller.
Justin Holl, Frederik Gauthier, Mason Marchment and Martin Marincin each scored for the Marlies, who erased a two-goal deficit late in the second period and scored three third-period goals.
Garret Sparks made 32 saves in the victory, as the Marlies won their 10th consecutive game in the AHL playoffs.
But the sentiment around the Marlies dressing room was unanimous.
"I think if you go around the room and ask guy-to-guy, we've got more," Sparks said.
Travis Morin scored twice for the Stars. Curtis McKenzie, Austin Fyten, and Justin Dowling also scored for Texas, which earned a pair of power-play goals against Toronto.
"I didn't mind our game," said Stars coach Derek Laxdal. "We had a pair of opportunities to increase our lead, but Sparks made some timely saves for them. You have to give them credit."
Mike McKenna made 28 saves in defeat.
Morin opened the scoring for the Stars while on the power play. His wrist shot went past Sparks's shoulder at 6:19 of the first period.
The Marlies replied later in the period. Holl's centring pass from the corner deflected off a Stars defender and past McKenna at 8:32.
Texas scored their second power-play goal of the game when McKenzie picked up a stretch pass from Brent Regner and fired the puck past Sparks at 12:46 for a 2-1 lead.
Gauthier scored a 10:57 of the second period. He was parked in the slot as he one-timed a Colin Greening pass to tie the game 2-2.
Fyten put Texas ahead for the third time in the game just 28 seconds after Gauthier's goal.
Morin scored his second of the game when he picked up Justin Dowling's rebound to give Texas a 4-2 lead at 17:48.
Toronto's Smith shot from a tight angle was deflected by Mueller and beat McKenna at 19:45 to cut Texas' lead down to 4-3.
The Marlies opened the scoring in the third period. Marchment's low shot from the slot beat McKenna to tie the game 4-4 at 2:46. Toronto followed that up with their first lead of the game at 4:55 when Marincin would pick up his rebound and fire the shot at the roof of the net.
Texas would erase the Marlies lead. Dowling scored his third goal of the playoffs at 6:10, before Moore put away the winner for the Marlies to make it 6-5 at 10:05.
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