Spencer Abbott broke out of his scoring slump in a big way Thursday, scoring a natural hat trick and leading the Toronto Marlies to a 4-1 win over the Texas Stars that ties the American Hockey League's Western Conference final at two.
Abbott, who had not scored in seven playoff games after missing 12 games with a shoulder injury, picked up all three goals on Marlies' power plays. Defenceman T.J. Brennan assisted on all three Abbott goals while Peter Holland extended his point streak to eight games with two assists.
With Marlies defenceman Andrew MacWilliam off for boarding at 14:26 of the third, the Stars pulled goaltender Cristopher Nilstorp giving Texas a two minute, two-man advantage, but the visitors were unable to capitalize.
Following the penalty kill, Jerry D'Amigo added an empty netter to give Toronto a four-goal cushion.
However, with just 1:42 remaining, Radek Faksa spoiled Marlies goaltender Drew MacIntyre's bid for his third shutout of the post-season.
MacIntyre made 27 saves for his ninth win of the playoffs, while Nilstorp stopped 24 shots in the loss.
With the win, Toronto avoided losing three straight for the second time all season (Nov. 9-14).
Abbott opened the scoring at 1:36 of the first period, beating Nilstorp from the point.
On the Marlies' second power play of the night, Abbott put home the rebound off of a Brennan point shot past a sprawling Nilstorp.
Holland nearly made it 3-0 at 11:20 of the first, beating Nilstorp but hitting the post.
Toronto has now out-scored opponents 16-3 in the opening frame during the Calder Cup playoffs.
Abbott completed the hat trick at 7:05 of the second on a two-man advantage, beating Nilstorp who was screened well by Toronto forward Josh Leivo.
The Marlies finished 3 for 6 with the man advantage while holding the Stars scoreless on five tries.
Stars forward Chris Mueller had his five-game point streak halted in the loss.