CEDAR PARK — Even with a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference Finals, Texas Stars coach Willie Desjardins said there’s still work to be done headed into Game 6 against the Toronto Marlies on Monday at the Cedar Park Center.
“There’s still lots left to go. Every game (has) been hard in this series,” Desjardins said after the Stars’ 2-1 victory in Game 5 on Saturday. “It’s still going to be a very tough series heading back into our building.”
Part of the strife Texas has faced in this series has been the fast starts Toronto has pieced together. The Marlies have scored first in each game of the series, and scored on its first shot in three of the five games.
While Toronto has had the early chances, Texas has a 193-117 edge in shots during the series. The Stars have been outscored 6-1 in the opening periods despite a 61-38 shot advantage.
“It happens sometimes, but the thing is you can’t over react,” Desjardins said of Toronto’s early leads. “I thought we were real ready (in Game 5). If you aren’t ready, that’s when things can derail with early goals. But if you are ready, that can focus you more for the rest of the game.”
That statement has also embodied the play of Stars goalie Cristopher Nilstorp this series.
With the exception of Game 1, the Swedish goalie has bounced back from early goals against and played well in the second and third periods. After allowing two goals on eight shots in the second and third periods of Game 1, Nilstorp has stopped 66 of 69 shots during the latter periods for the remainder of the series, good for a .956 save percentage.
“I think that’s a sign of maturity,” Desjardins said. “He’s played in a lot of pressure situations here and in Sweden. The bottom line is you just move on and forget that last shot happened.”