The St. John's IceCaps gave up too many open-ice chances and the Texas Stars capitalized during a 6-3 victory in Game 1 of the Calder Cup final on Sunday night.
St. John's had 29-23 advantage in shots and pressured Texas for most of the night, but the scoring chances against IceCaps goalie Michael Hutchinson disappointed head coach Keith McCambridge.
"The goaltending wasn't the issue for me, it was our execution during the game," McCambridge said. "We played the game too wide open against obviously a very dangerous team offensively. We gave up too many Grade-A scoring chances against us and got ourselves on the wrong side of the game."
The second period embodied McCambridge's disappointments.
St. John's outshot the Stars 12-4 in the period, but Chris Mueller, Scott Glennie and Travis Morin all scored for Texas, cancelling out a tying goal by Will O'Neil 1:47 into the period.
All three goals came on rushes by Texas.
Mueller beat Hutchinson over the right shoulder on a breakaway, while Glennie finished off a 3-on-1 rush with a wrist shot over the same shoulder. The backbreaker came later in the period when Morin scored a short-handed goal on a 2-on-1 with Brendan Ranford.
"It was tough, we knew they were a great team and we gave up too many odd man rushes," said IceCaps centre Eric O'Dell. "We know how offensively skilled they are and they capitalized on their chances a we just caught a few times and that when they came down and scored."
With the IceCaps trailing 4-1 after 40 minutes, the game opened up even more in the third period.
Tic-tack-toe passing play
Kael Mouillierat cut the lead to 4-2 just 2:36 into the third. Glennie then reinstated Texas' three-goal lead on a tic-tack-toe passing play with Mueller and Dustin Jeffrey.
Jordan Hill countered Glennie's second goal less than a minute later when he tipped an initial shot by Andrew Gordon in for his first goal since the 2012-13 season.
Mike Hedden added an empty-net goal for Texas to reach the final deficit.
Earlier Morin gave Texas a 1-0 lead 3:08 into the game on a power play. It was the first power-play goal St. John's conceded in 34 chances dating back to the second round against the Norfolk Admirals.
Morin beat Hutchinson on the Stars' first true scoring chance of the game, a shot from below the right circle after a pass from Glennie.
"I thought it was big, they had killed of 34 in a row so we knew they were good on the penalty kill," Stars coach Willie Desjardins said. "It's important to get the power play going, so that was big for us."
Texas didn't allow a shot on goal until there was just six minutes left in the first and outshot St. John's 11-5 in the opening period. But things changed in the final two periods as the IceCaps finished with a 23-12 shot advantage in the final two periods.
Cristopher Nilstorp stopped 26 of 29 shots for Texas, while Hutchinson made 17 stops.
Game 2 is Monday back at the Cedar Park Center.