The Texas Stars defeated the Toronto Marlies 5-2 on Tuesday night to force a deciding seventh game in the Calder Cup final.
Curtis McKenzie, Travis Morin and Austin Fyten scored in the second period to silence the raucous sellout crowd at the Ricoh Coliseum.
Sheldon Dries added a short-handed goal in the third for the Stars and Colin Markison had an empty-netter.
Calle Rosen and Justin Holl scored for the Marlies. Toronto outshot Texas 45-24.
Game 7 is set for Thursday night in Toronto. The American Hockey League uses a 2-3-2 playoff format.
Brimming with confidence after an emphatic 6-2 road win in Game 5 on Saturday, the Marlies dominated the opening period but couldn’t find the back of the net.
Miro Aaltonen gave Stars netminder Mike McKenna his first real test near the four-minute mark. McKenna stretched to his right to get a piece of Aaltonen’s snapshot.
Toronto goalie Garret Sparks answered at the other end a short time later with a nice blocker save on Justin Dowling, who elected to shoot on a 2-on-1 break.
The Marlies have struggled with the man advantage throughout the final, entering Game 6 with just one goal in 12 opportunities.
Toronto got its first power play midway through the opening stanza but was unable to apply sustained pressure. However, the missed opportunity seemed to spark the home side.
Once back at even strength, Toronto forced the action and McKenna had to make several strong saves to keep the game scoreless.
Toronto outshot Texas 16-4 in the opening 20 minutes.
The Marlies kept up the pace early in the second period but it was the Stars who opened the scoring at 6:46.
McKenzie flattened Martin Marincin as the Toronto defenceman was getting back to his feet after taking a hit behind the net. Dowling secured the loose puck by the boards and found McKenzie in front and he gave Texas the lead.
It was McKenzie’s 20th point (11-9) of the post-season, briefly moving him into a tie with Toronto’s Andreas Johnsson (8-12) for the AHL playoff lead.
A Sparks miscue led to the Stars’ second goal at 14:57. The netminder fanned on a clearing attempt and Dowling recovered it, sliding the puck to Morin for the tap-in.
Fyten hushed the crowd even more with an unassisted goal at 17:03.
The Marlies scored the early goal they were looking for in the third period. Rosen snapped a floater from the point past McKenna at 1:37, with Johnsson picking up an assist.
That got the towel-waving crowd back into it and when Pierre Engvall drew a slashing penalty just over a minute later, Toronto fans could feel a comeback coming on.
But just 17 seconds into the power play, Dries broke in alone and chipped a backhand past Sparks. The Toronto netminder was replaced after the goal by backup Calvin Pickard.
Holl made it a two-goal game at 15:12 but Markison iced it at 16:24.
The Marlies rolled through the first three rounds of the playoffs, winning 10 straight games before dropping Game 2 to Texas.
Toronto has not won a Calder Cup since the franchise moved to the Ontario capital over a decade ago. The St. John’s Maple Leafs were renamed the Toronto Marlies for the 2005-06 season.
The Marlies are the primary development program for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The last Toronto AHL affiliate to win the Calder Cup was the New Brunswick Hawks in 1982.
The Stars last won the league championship in 2014 with a five-game victory over the St. John’s IceCaps.